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Working with Expressives: Using Versatility with Talkative, Big Picture Clients

By Tim Deuitch  |  July 13, 2018

Does your client or prospect love to talk? Do they have a hard time getting down to business? You are probably working with an Expressive. Tim Deuitch and Susan Hall discuss strategies to be more versatile and successful when working with clients and prospects who display the Expressive 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 with Strategic Enhancement Group, and I'm joined by Susan Hall, Vice President of Business Development and Performance Improvement. Welcome, Susan.

Susan Hall: 00:17  Hi Tim. Great to be here.

Tim Deuitch: 00:19  Glad you're here. This podcast is one of a series that addresses the challenges we feel when working with clients and coworkers that exhibit different communication styles. There are four styles we'll speak to over the course of the podcast series. The first one is the Analytical style. The Analytical is a task focused person. They're deliberate, they're thoughtful, and they love process. Then there's the Expressive. Expressives are people focused, they're verbal, they think out loud, they talk a lot. They're creative, they're demonstrative. There's also the Amiable style. They're people focused, they're diligent, they prefer harmony, and they like collective input. They like everybody to be involved. The fourth one is the Driver. They are task and results oriented. They're people who like to get to the point and they use their time wisely. Today in this podcast we're going to speak to the Expressive client, then the challenge and the opportunities of salespeople who have an Expressive as a client, and remember, the Expressive is a people focused person who's a verbal type. They like to think out loud. So let's set this situation a little deeper. 

Most salespeople are delighted to have clients who like to talk, to share their thoughts openly, to think out loud with us as we talk about the business and other topics. These are the verbal traits of the Expressive client. When you get them on the phone or in person, you often feel like you have their full attention. Susan, how else would you describe the Expressive client?

Susan Hall: 02:09  Well, they definitely value relationships and will spend time building the relationships so that they feel like they've got a sense of trust for those that can make it easier for them to achieve their goals. So if they trust you, like all clients, they'll be more willing to do business with you, but for them, trust is really based on knowing you personally and having a good relationship. They tend to be fast-paced, outgoing, enthusiastic. Like you said Tim, they like to think out loud and they love to brainstorm.

Tim Deuitch: 02:44  Yes. Now in many ways, these are the absolute positive aspects of an Expressive client. They're vocal with us and not all clients give us such time and attention. But there are things about the Expressive that can challenge us as a salesperson, especially if we are a "get down to business" type of person. One is that we are not necessarily special to them, though we feel like it at the time. They engage with most people this way. They are very capable of sharing ideas and thoughts with anyone, including our competitors. Related to that is they can change their minds. When we think we have a deal, an inside track, a growing relationship, they can seemingly change on the fly and they sometimes become suddenly silent as they begin to share perhaps, with others. If we're not careful, we might assume that they  have greater influence than we think. So Susan, what are cautionary thoughts you might have on working with Expressive?

Susan Hall: 03:51  I think those are all good points Tim. I think were other styles often trip up with Expressives is around time and scope. Expressives are fast paced and they sometimes have a different sense of timing than other styles. You've probably had this experience where you've asked an Expressive for directions and they say, "Oh, it's just five minutes" or "It's around the corner," when it ends up being a good 15 minutes and half a mile away. So when the Expressive asks, "Can you get me such and such?", always ask, "When do you need this?" You may be thinking next week and the Expressive may be thinking the next day, or not. It's just always good to check.

Tim Deuitch: 04:33  Right.

Susan Hall: 04:37  Remember, they like to brainstorm out loud too and that can be watching fireworks go off. I once made a call with an Analytical rep on an Expressive client and afterwards my Analytical colleague was just running his hands through his hair and saying, "Gosh, how are we ever going to get all that done the next two weeks?", and I kind of smiled because, knowing the Expressive, clearly this client wasn't asking for all these ten things to be accomplished, he was brainstorming. So helping them prioritize is really important, and then finally, don't overload them with too much detail. Expressives like to see the big picture first, then ask them if they want more detail. Be prepared to show it, but only if they want to, and they probably won't.

Tim Deuitch: 05:28  Right. So let's switch to what we would look at as action items. How do we maximize productivity and results with an Expressive client? Attempting to maintain control with an Expressive person can feel like herding cats, but we do have some tried and true approaches. One is to become a partner in helping the Expressive create a productive result and outcome to the conversation you are having, or certainly, to your overall work. Expressives want to feel their ideas and involvement matter and they appreciate it if you help make this possible. So some of this action can be in the language of, "Hey, how can I help you succeed? You've just shared a lot with me, so how can I help you succeed?" or "How can I bring your idea to fruition?"

Another is, simply the act, and you mentioned this before Susan, of confirming next steps in meetings before you close a conversation. They move quickly on to other topics. So make the progression easy for them by taking time to submit next steps. For example, using the language of, "Would it be easiest for you if we set the next meeting? Would it help you if I confirm our conversation and send you the details?" All around helping take what was probably eight lanes wide of information and turning it into the most important single or two lanes. What about you, Susan?

Susan Hall: 07:05  No, I think that's critical. I know the mantra with the Expressive is "Make it easy for them to do business with you." So all of the things that you just said Tim and write communications for them that they can edit and forward internally if they need to. If you're scheduling a meeting, you be the one to ask, "Would it be helpful if I sent an invitation with a draft agenda?" They will love that. Make it easy for them to work with you. I think the second one is probably my favorite as well, summarize your key points in next steps from your meeting, send that out immediately afterwards. Distill it down, so that you can pick up the next meeting with those notes and make it easy for them to engage back into the business discussion.

Tim Deuitch: 07:57  Perfect. In summary, Expressives can be both energizing and frustrating. They're not people of few words and it's often a challenge to turn their ideas into action, to pin down specifics, to make decisions, and to move the process forward. Think of working with an Expressive like riding a horse, they'll take the lead, but they're okay if you recognize their power, their ideas, and enthusiasm, and you become a partner in helping you both get to the same place. Thanks for joining us and if you have any 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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