Ego / Expressive
These guys may look like Dominant / Drivers but they are worlds apart. They are completely driven by the need to be acknowledged (applauded actually). Very often creative as they do not feel constrained by how things are, they have a god like belief in themselves.
What is important here is to recognize what personality type the executive is, what it probably means about their responses to you and your solution, and how you should shape your sales messages to meet their emotional makeup. Most people have all eight types of behaviour in their response to others, but in different proportions and some 80% of any individuals responses are shaped by their top two personality pair types.
Not clear, well think about your own work colleagues; when you interact with them there are many (maybe 70%) who are chatty, not very judgmental and happy to talk about what they did last weekend or how their kids are doing at school. Leaving aside the amplification issue of whether they are shy or extrovert the majority of people are Complacent / Amible, and thank god for the complacent / amiables I say as if the world was full of Dominant / Drivers and Ego / Expressives it really would be red in tooth and claw.
The next commonest is probably the Stable / Analytics – sometimes characterized as a bit geeky, they again do not judge some aspects of who you are, they can tolerate individualist expression as they consider it irrelevant to the issue they judge people on “can they do the maths?”. Stable / Analytics understand whether you are adding value or not. Competence that affects metrics is what they are interested in.
Dominant / Drivers are the most conservatively dressed guys who are most likely to talk about work and what the goals of the team (or his personal goals) are for that week, or month. They have an edge but it is not personal it is competitiveness about performance at work.
Ego / Expressives are easier to spot. Usually they are the best dressed, often almost flamboyant, I met one with cufflinks that were huge, gold and shaped like Hippos. They talk loudly and nearly always about themselves. They react very badly to criticism, they love people who admire them; they have pictures of themselves with celebrities in their offices.
Getting clearer, the more you consciously use this model to analyse the people you meet through work (or socially) the more you can see how people usually fall into one dominant and one secondary personality pair type. I have never met a CEO that did not have Dominant / Driver as either his dominant or secondary personality pair type.
If you can begin to pick them what are the lessons for you as a salesperson, how do you change your behaviours and sales messages? Stop and re-read the last sentence; it is important that you fully understand this. Just as you need to think about your appearance to maximize confidence and minimize the possibility that your sales message will not be listened to because your appearance offends them, so now you need to understand that a salesperson shares with an actor the need to be able to become a character. Ok, this can be a big challenge for some people so I will go through it and see if you can stay with me on this one.
I am who I am, right, people have to take me or leave me, right. Well, maybe but look at the numbers. If 70% of the world are complacent / amiable people with little drive and ambition and I am an alpha male who is starting out but destined for the top; if I show contempt for these Complacent / Amiables that I am selling to – are they likely to buy from me?
If truth be told all of us have these personality traits within us; it is far better to try to find a way of being that works with as many people as possible to maximize your relationship opportunity and sales (and commission). We all have issues with this, and ultimately (I am no psychologist) they may relate to the attributes of ourselves that we are not comfortable with. I have always enjoyed the company of artistic people but when I come across Ego / Expressives in a work environment my defences go up immediately. Partly this is because of the way you have to relate to them is difficult for me (see below) but partly it is because I really do not like egocentric people. Is that their fault, maybe, but I am sure it is partly because I struggle with my own ego. It is a trade off, none of us can become a chameleon, a Zelig and I would not recommend this, but making adjustments so that you do not allow personality clashes to get in the way of getting a hearing for your product or solution is fair enough I believe.
So what are the “approach plans” for each of the personality types?
Dominant / Drivers – D/D – as I said earlier I have hardly ever met a CEO in an elevator, but for these guys you are “in an elevator” at the beginning of the meeting. You have about two minutes to impress them or they will start looking to end the meeting. Start with a clear statement (Elevator Pitch) of how your offer will affect something that they are responsible for. You have to be another Dominant / Driver in your behaviour, do not challenge them – you do not want to get into a gorilla chest beating session, but do demonstrate that you are confident (and positive) about your Product, Employer, Yourself etc. (see how it begins to hang together). If you get the first two minutes right you will get about 30 minutes with him, probably never more than 45 minutes. Do not fill the time with a presentation on features. I prefer a meeting or presentation structure that summarizes an initial understanding of the business outcomes and how they relate to the companies (his) business objectives and strategy, then a high level view of the “project” required to deliver the benefits, an investment summary (it has to be there, just indicate the areas that could vary upon further investigation) some references of other companies you have done similar projects with and no more than a few minutes on your company and a summary of the next or next few actions. In many ways the first meeting with a dominant / driver is the same as the Final Presentation. He wants High Level, clear, business outcome messages and he needs to know that your company can deliver. Remember, “can it do the job?” “is this a company (person) I am comfortable doing business with?”.
Stable / Analytic – S/A – approach plan. Most Stable / Analytics completely assimilate their company’s business objectives, in this sense they are “stewards” for the Dominant / Drivers. They need to hear all the business outcomes, references, company messages you put into a presentation to a Dominant / Driver, the difference is quantity. The Stable / Analytic was probably responsible for converting the Strategic Plan into the annual operating budget. He knows the numbers in detail. If you developed 20-30 minutes of content to meet or present to the Dominant / Driver, you will need exactly the same structure with twice as much detail. His expectations will be that they will be accurate. With a Stable / Analytic it is not the right approach to estimate. It is better to say we are certain about this aspect and need more data about this topic. He will respect that.
Complacent / Amiables – C/A – approach plan. If the D/D & S/A approach plans sound formal that is because they are not very focused on you outside of making judgments on your competence. The Complacent / Amiable needs to know who you are. These are all imaginary scenarios, but if I imagine I need to prepare you for a boardroom presentation to approach a D/D or S/A executive with a Complacent / Amiable I see you drinking a cup of coffee that he walked to the vending machine to get with you (or sent his secretary to get as soon as you sat down) and talking in general terms and not always about business. These guys are really motivated by values and loyalty. If you are a decent family guy who is working hard and honestly, as long as one of the D/Ds or S/As that he probably works for let him, he will try his best to do business with you. There will be photos of his family, there will be talk about how well his kids are doing at school. He will be very comfortable that the company he works for has values that he subscribes to. Just get beside him, make him a friend, and make him feel comfortable that you and your company will help him with the project. As I said these guys can be counted upon for at least a little loyalty (though they have the breaking strain of a Kit Kat if things really go wrong). I remember when one of the product vendors that we had implemented with a particular client whose Project Manager was a C/A referred to him as one of their clients in the first meeting; he stopped them and made it clear he considered himself my client. I had put in the work to build the relationship; my company had seen the project through and helped him be successful. That counted with him. These guys are nice guys, build lots of friendships with them. They will act as listening posts for you within the account. The D/D will only meet with you when there is a compelling reason to. The C/A will let you take him to lunch and (without being disloyal to his company) will share information with you that will help you.
Ego / Expressives – E/E – approach plan. If you look back at the approach plans what they are asking you to do is find some part of you that is like the person you are dealing with. Find some common ground, find some part of you that they can respond to. This does not require you to give up who you are it requires you to stress the D/D or S/A or C/A part of yourself and put it up front and centre when you are with that person. If you do not have a part of your personality that is interested in business outcomes, if you are not committed to professional competence, if you cannot figure out the value of what you are selling to the company you are selling to, and if you are not able to make human contact with 70% of your fellow human beings, then I can confidently predict you will not succeed as a salesperson.
Ego / Expressives are different. The last thing you should do is pretend to be another ego / expressive. He will not listen to you, other peoples egos are either completely tuned out or if you persist he will lose his temper with you. I am afraid only flattery works. My distaste is probably showing through. I am not an expert in selling to egotistical people, I have a less than 50% success rate with this personality type. Good luck in finding better counsel. My strategy with these guys is simple. Work with someone else in the organization. Meet with them as little as possible; there is method in this madness. One of the common responses of the Ego / Expressive is to think less of another human being with every meeting. In your first meeting, as long as you listen attentively and murmur appreciation for his accomplishments periodically during the meeting, his first impression is that you are a first class guy. You must be because he had a first class experience of telling you all about himself. In each successive meeting he will notice more and more that you are not him. By definition as you are not him you are not the centre of the universe. To make an analogy, he is the Sun at the centre of the Solar System, and with each meeting you become the next planet away from the Sun until with repeated exposure you are Pluto and he will begin to re-classify you as not a planet at all, more a meteorite in stable orbit. OK I am overstating the issue, but you all know people like this.
So what does this all mean in terms of your Value Propositions and sales messages. First of all I hope I have made you think about not putting who you are in the way of these Value Proposition being heard by the customer. Appearance, and personality projection is about maximizing confidence and minimizing offense. Getting You out of the way so that your product’s value proposition can be heard.
The Value Proposition is again specific to the customer in his organization. Repeating what the brochures say just does not cut it. You have to figure out whether what you are saying resonates with the customer. A Stable / Analytic may be a global warming denier, but he will understand that a Sustainability spin is an important marketing message. A Complacent / Amiable wants a better world for his kids and will be passionate in his advocacy of a Sustainable initiative.