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Today’s sales anxiety: I’m anxious about…
|“Being able to read the client quickly enough to figure out how to build value.”
So how do you do it?
Great question! Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Blink” called this ability a ‘thin-slice’ – which is the ability to find patterns in events or people based on very quick glimpses of small amounts of data – such as an immediate first impression on the phone or in person. Some call this “using your gut”.
So let’s take an example of two prospects: One is a male, 70 year-old, retired farmer that has an amenable personality upon first meeting. He talks in a measured cadence, is polite and genial, and shows respect for your views. The other is a female, 42 year-old, managing director of a tech firm, who has a tendency to drive the conversation (and you) to satisfy her skeptical curiosity. It’s clear that the two couldn’t be more different, but how do you approach each one to get your message across so that you can build value?
We’d classify the first person (the 70 year old, amenable male) as an” M9″, and we’d classify the second person (42 year old, confident, director-level female) as an “F1”, and we teach our training participants to do the same.
Experienced brains do this through a learned process known as conceptual clustering in which ideas and objects are recognised, differentiated and understood. Research by Rosch and Lakoff in the 1970s suggests that categorisation is the basis of learning and development.
Stevan, in his 2005 paper “To Cognize is to Categorize: Cognition is Categorization”, writes
We organisms are sensorimotor systems. The things in the world come in contact with our sensory surfaces, and we interact with them based on what that sensorimotor contact “affords”. All of our categories consist in ways we behave differently toward different kinds of things — things we do or don’t eat, mate-with, or flee-from, or the things that we describe, through our language, as prime numbers, affordances, absolute discriminables, or truths. That is all that cognition is for, and about.
We recently created a categorisation system to classify prospects that went beyond the traditional models that rely on either gender, age, or personality. The LiveseySolar team created a model that integrates all three of these differences for relatively easy sorting of the people who are siting in front of you. We created an identification model that we call the LiveseySolar iD Model (the iD standing for Individual Differences).
We based this model on the research accumulated by Piaget (Swiss philosopher), Maslow (American sociologist), Sperry (Nobel Laureate neuropsychologist), Kohlberg (Harvard Professor in developmental psychology), Schoonmaker, Woolf and Black (psychologists), Foot (Canadian economist and demographer), and Armstrong (American gender researcher).
In the LiveseySolar iD Model, we categorise prospects and customers into 18 types – 9 female and 9 male – shown as red and blue respectively in the image below. The left-hand side of the asymmetrical cube are personality differences including Ego, Analytical and Amiable. The bottom side of the model relates to generational differences including Traditionalists, BabyBoomers and Generation Xers. The numbers relate to the intersection of the three axes (gender, personality, and generation).
For example, a Male Amiable Traditionalist would be an M9. See the two images below for more information about how the iD process works.
The Male Amiable Traditionalist would be an M9 which is the lowest right-hand corner of the numbers on the blue side which is male. (The blue cube labelled 9 being the only place Amiable and Traditionalist intersect on the male side.
On the red (female) side seen in this image, a Female Ego GenerationXer would be an F1. (The red cube labelled 1 at the top-most right, being the only place Ego and GenerationX meet on the red side.)
First, we teach participants how to spot the differences between personalities and generations; gender being somewhat more obvious. By observing calls and role play situations, participants can soon recognise the differences.
We also include a key with the LiveseySolar iD Model that describes how to address each of the 18 categories, by communicating to the type in the way that ‘speaks their language’. For example, using the examples above, the instruction for an Male Amiable Traditionalist, or an M9, is to “Be efficient & listen, Be patient & professional, Be genuinely interested”. The instruction for a Female Ego GenerationXer, or an F1 is to “Be relatable & contributive, Be clear & informative, Be confident & appreciative”.
The LiveseySolar iD Model is a shorthand method of quickly identifying individual differences among prospects and customers, and then being able to approach them in a way that has the most chance of building value, rapport and a long term business relationship.
Of course, all of the flaws and weaknesses inherent in categorisation may occur (miscategorisation, over-generalisation, expecting recognition alone to overcome differences), but on the whole, our sales training participants have found it is a very useful tool to quickly have an effective starting point to approach the prospect.