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Selling to Drivers: Earning Trust and Offering Options for Success

By Tim Deuitch  |  September 26, 2018

Is your client or prospect looking for evidence and proof of ROI? Do they want to get right down to business and leave small talk until the end of a meeting? You are probably working with a Driver. Tim Deuitch and Susan Hall discuss strategies to be more versatile and successful when selling to clients and prospects who display the Driver social style.

Tim Deuitch: 00:01  Hello and welcome to the Strategic Insights Podcast brought to you by Strategic Enhancement Group. I'm Tim Deuitch, Senior Performance Consultant at Strategic Enhancement Group, and today I'm joined by Susan Hall, Vice President of Business Development and Performance Improvement. Welcome, Susan.

Susan Hall: 00:19  Hi Tim. It's great to be here.

Tim Deuitch: 00:21  We're glad you're here. This podcast is one of a series that addresses the challenges we feel when we work with clients and coworkers that exhibit unique communication styles. Unique meaning, they're different than ours. There are four styles we'll speak to during this series, but only one today. The four styles are, first, the Analytical style. That's a person who's task focus, deliberate and thoughtful, and they prefer process. There's also the Expressive style. That person is a people focused person. They're verbal, they like to think out loud, they're creative, and they're very demonstrative and communicate. The third one is the Amiable style. They're also a people focused person, however, they're very diligent, they prefer harmony, they would like collective input from people. Then there's the fourth one, the Driver, the task and results oriented person. They like to get to the point, they like to use their time wisely. Each of our podcasts addresses one of these styles, and today we'll be talking about that customer or client of yours who has the Driver style.

We'll start by describing some of the characteristics of the Driver style, and then we'll share practical tips and action steps to make the most of your relationship with this style person, and ensure that your relationship produces a productive as possible outcome from both of you. So, let's start with characteristics, the customer or client who is a Driver is a task oriented person. They're very results oriented in their interest and in their dialogue. In a business meeting, they tend to be direct and decisive in communication. This is the customer that wants to get right down to business and leave small talk until the end of a meeting, if at all. Physically they can be stern or they can come across that way, as a quietly intense person with few facial gestures. They'll listen closely while you speak but might interrupt you if you don't stick to the point or stay on something that they're interested in. They'll also make declarative statements as opposed to more inquisitive questions, and so forth. So Susan, what are some of the other behavioral cues you see in a Driver who is a customer or a client?

Susan Hall: 03:00  Well, they like control. Drivers want options as opposed to being positioned to accept one single solution. I think that's something to keep in mind when you're making a proposal to a Driver is to always have a few options in mind that you can discuss, and you definitely want to talk about the probabilities of gaining results with each one of those options. Credibility also means everything. I mean it does with any style, that's part of trust building. With Drivers especially, it's important that you stay on task, that you tie everything back to what's important to them in terms of results, and make sure that you're doing what you can to maintain your credibility in demonstrating your competence.

Tim Deuitch: 03:44  Right, absolutely. In my case, the truth is, I love working with a customer who is a Driver. I like somebody who is all about results and productivity, and those who want to use their time efficiently. They base decisions on evidence and outcomes, and they think in terms of ROI. So, what I found is that they're often people of few words. But when they commit to you, they almost always follow through, and I enjoy that in a Driver.

Susan Hall: 04:17  Yes, so do I. In fact, one way or the other you know that you're going to get a decision pretty quickly with a Driver. From a sales point of view, they're not a style that likes to drag things out, have a lot of process. If you can convince them again through evidence, through facts, through probabilities and options, you'll get a decision quickly, one way or the other.

Tim Deuitch: 04:42  Let's go from there Susan, the things we really like about them, about that ability to get a quick decision often. What are the things that frustrate us about a person of the Driver style, especially a customer who's a Driver?

Susan Hall: 04:57  Well, they can be controlling, again, they like control. They can be a bit autocratic under stress, you know, "Do it!" without a lot of explanation. They can sometimes come across as short, and for some styles whose decision making process is different, for example, Analyticals, who want some time to really analyze to make sure that they're offering up the best solution or opinion, or Amiables, who may want to check with other team members before they put a decision forward, and Expressives, who are brainstorming, Drivers can get impatient with all of that. They can view those types of decision making styles as being indecisive when in reality, they're just different. So, that's something to keep in mind.

Tim Deuitch: 05:51  Absolutely. One I'll add to it is sometimes, especially as a customer, they can simply become quiet. You may have a really good meeting with them, and you really hone in together, and you're aligned, and they say to you, "Yes, this is something that interests me. Let's revisit this at x point." They'll then go quiet, they'll not respond to your next call until the time makes sense to them. If we don't watch it in a sales position, we'll read silence as the end of a relationship, or they disconnected from it when they really just don't think it's time to revisit it, no matter how wildly in agreement we were on something.

Susan Hall: 06:39  Exactly. You may not get a lot of feedback from this particular style until you get a yes or a no.

Tim Deuitch: 06:46  Right, absolutely. One of the reasons why I love the Driver as a customer is I know that if they tell me that they're interested in what we're talking about, I know we'll be able to revisit it down the road with almost certainty. My job is to be patient until we get there.

Susan Hall: 07:04  Right.

Tim Deuitch: 07:05  So, speaking of those types of tips, let's talk about some actions that we can take with a customer who is a Driver. A few things. Credibility is everything to them and they don't want their time wasted. You get high marks for both if you're always on time, and you end on time. They appreciate receiving an agenda, not just because it helps lay out what you'll talk about, but it proves to them that you're organized, that you're focused, and that appeals to them. Related, get to the point, get to the task in hand.

They're truly not interested in small talk. Even if your a person who thinks rapport and small talk is essential, they don't. So maybe when the business is completed, at the end of such a meeting, they might go to small talk but get to the point, that's their comfort zone. Another is to be prepared with the information on results in ROI. And Susan, you mentioned this before, if they can't intuitively see results, you'll need to bring that evidence to them. We don't want to confuse bringing evidence with trying to sell them that you have some kind of a "Can't-miss solution". They're not opposed to taking risks or responding to challenges, they might actually be cynical if you suggest that a certain idea or solution is guaranteed to work, or that your service will be impeccable. Talk is cheap to them, your actions will matter most. The last thing I have is to initiate interest in assessing progress. Measuring results is important to them. They'll appreciate you if you ask them to inform you if things are not progressing, or if you ask to be invited and involved in measuring progress and results. This shows them that you care as much about results as they do. Susan, what would you add to this list?

Susan Hall: 09:15  Yes, that was a good list, Tim, just a few more that I would add is, words are everything. Words that resonate with Drivers are "results", "efficiency", "control", "time savings", "deadlines", "outcomes", and "deliverables". When you are speaking with the Driver, when you're proposing a solution, start with the outcome, the bottom line, the results, and then give them the option of going into more detail if they want it. So think executive summary and appendix, present the facts logically, appealed to their knowledge versus their feelings. I think it's also important to remember that Drivers are motivated by control, so they really do value when you bring options for them to consider, even if you're pretty certain of this solution or approach that would benefit them, they will want to have a say in that. And then finally, I'd say, don't be intimidated, show no fear as you answer these difficult questions. Certainly admit when you don't know the answer as always, but it's very important that you're upfront with every style, and specifically so with the Driver with what you can and what you can't do.

Tim Deuitch: 10:36  I love that you used those words of "Show no fear". That speaks to one of the misconceptions about a Driver, especially one who's a customer. Drivers can sometimes seem intimidating, they're very direct, but they expect you to get to the point, and they expect you to bring a point of view to the dialogue. So that, while they speak with authority, sometimes they'll make a statement that suggest their words of wisdom or a foregone conclusion. But I've learned from working with Drivers that they, as you said, they can be influenced. What influences them is a succinct point of view based in evidence and results. So if you're prepared, they'll truly value your input and your advice, and even if they don't take it then, they'll look forward to receiving it from you down the road. Susan, would you add any other kind of common misconception or misunderstanding at this point?

Susan Hall: 11:42  Yes, I think so. Just in the sessions that we run around styles, sometimes a lot of the feedback that Drivers get when the other styles have an opportunity to talk about their perceptions is that there's sometimes viewed as cold, or unfeeling, or that they don't care. It's really interesting to see the Drivers reactions to that because, like all people, we all have a full range of emotions and feelings. It's just that some of us choose to show them or not show them as readily, and Drivers don't. I think that's really important to remember that Drivers can experience all those emotions. They just have a combination of controlled behavior and very declarative statements which makes them seem like everything they're saying sometimes, is putting a stake in the ground, and to your point, Tim, that's not always the case. You can absolutely influence their style.

Tim Deuitch: 12:48  Very well said, Susan.

Susan Hall: 12:50  I think finally, the last misconception that I will talk about is that most leaders are Drivers. Many feel that "Well, you know, gosh, this person's in a position of leadership. He or she must be a Driver because that's what they do, they make decisions, they get results", and yet the research shows that all four styles are represented in leadership roles. So it really is about, how can you be versatile? In fact, when we think about leadership, leaders who are versatile, regardless of what style they are, can be up to 40 percent more productive and effective than those who aren't, so that is something to remember.

Tim Deuitch: 13:30  Yes, absolutely. Versatility is everything and it's really the basis behind us bringing this series to our listeners. So let's summarize our conversation. The Driver customer is often the style easiest to identify, but sometimes the toughest to police. They're bottom line, take charge people who want to make efficient and productive use of their time. So, the key is not to fight this style by trying too hard to impress them. It's actually to help them be decisive by offering options to them, supporting them, and getting the results they need. Pragmatically be on time and be prepared, and don't be intimidated or afraid to argue a different point than something they might suggest. Be ready to share your educated point of view. They'll respect you for it, and even if they initially don't agree, they'll seek out your opinion if they know you're prepared. Susan and I thank you for listening, and we also know we've just scratched the surface today. If you have additional questions or thoughts, please visit us at StrategicEnhancement.com.

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Tim Deuitch

Senior Performance Consultant

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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