Understanding Customers Using Sports Analogy

Excerpt from “Playing to Win: The Sport of Selling and How You Can Win at the Game” by Allen Guy (Sartoris Literary Group, March 2013).

If everyone possessed the same personality characteristics, the life of a salesperson would be much easier. Sales representatives often fail to understand the uniqueness of each buyer. In his book, “Playing to Win,” author Allen Guy discusses the various interactions differing personalities have with one another. Here is an excerpt from Guy’s book that helps educate both veterans and beginners who want to broaden their success in sales.

By Allen Guy

While there are four distinct and dominant personality types, everyone has traits from all four, with only one being dominant. That means you are unique in the blend of your personality traits, as is everyone else.

In that there are many variations to a basketball team’s zone defenses, so there are an infinite number of variations in human personalities. Your task is to determine the unique personality blends belonging to each and every customer or prospect.

Early assessment of these traits will help you efficiently interact with customers and prospects for maximum results, thus, increasing your chances of success.

Knowing your prospect or customer, as well as knowing yourself, is important to your success. Coaches and players spend hours viewing and reviewing videotapes of their opponents. Why? Because coaches and players know that for every offense, there is a defensive strategy that will work best. Likewise, if you know how an opponent’s defensive strategy works, you can adjust your offense for maximum sales.

If you’re a football coach who detects a glitch in your opponent’s pass defense, then you’re going to exploit this weakness and call pass plays frequently. You won’t make touchdowns every time, especially if you forgot about the outside linebacker who likes to blitz almost every play.

See how quickly personalities can trick you? Personalities are multifaceted and always complex. As you learn more about personalities, you’ll experience increasing success in sales.

How Do Different Personalities Interact?

As you have seen already, the world of personalities is vast. Within that expanse, you quickly can find yourself piecing together different jigsaw puzzles from one minute to the next, trying to determine how all these personalities interact with one another.

Certain personalities tend to work more easily with others, just as some combinations tend to conflict with one another. When it comes to relationships, we have all heard the old saying: “Opposites attract.” Well, it’s equally true between salesperson and customer. In the PDF you can download at the end of this article, the table shows the Dominator (the Quarterback) in the upper left quadrant. Diagonally down to the right is the Detail Player (the Wide Receiver). These two personalities tend to complement each other in the same way a Wide Receiver complements a Quarterback. The Dominator wants to be in control and make the decisions, but also wants to know each decision is the right one.

For confirmation the decisions are right, the Quarterback (Dominator) tends to trust or rely on a Wide Receiver (Detailer). The Quarterback knows the Wide Receiver has considered all aspects of the product or service and will guide the Quarterback to the right decision. If you’re selling to a Quarterback, you want to earn his respect as a Detail Player (Wide Receiver) so the buyer is assured that you’ll handle the bothersome details.

The Dominators tend to show appreciation and respect for the Detailers for how they understand the details. It is much easier being the Detailer selling to the Dominator than the other way around. Why is this? If you’re a Dominator, you don’t want to get bogged down in nitty-gritty details. However, the person sitting across the table or on the phone wants to know all the details of your product or service. You, the Dominator, have to modify your approach to effectively sell this person, the Detailer.

As a Dominator, you don’t relish the fine-tooth-comb approach to details. But if you’re going to sell the Detailer, who needs this level of explanation before making a decision, then get to know your comb. As a sales rep to Detailers, your patience and attention to details are your best allies.

In the diagram, the upper right quadrant shows the Celebrator, or Running Back. Diagonally down in the lower left quadrant is the “Whatever” player, the Lineman. Unlike the Dominator and the Detailer, the “Whatever” and Celebrator personalities mesh well because neither pressures the other.

The Celebrators tend to work with the Linemen because they’re the encouragers and tend to focus more on the positive than the negative. Linemen like to be “pumped up” by those they admire, and want to emulate them. So the acceptance or inclusion of the Lineman by the Celebrator puts the Lineman at ease and more likely will lead to increased sales opportunities with the Lineman.

As a Celebrator, you’ll find selling to the Lineman easiest. The Lineman sees your excitement about your products and wants to be part of it. In pro football games, a running back quickly will spike the ball in the end zone after running a touchdown and even do a dance. Linemen usually join the end-zone elation and whoop it up with the running back longer than the receivers or quarterback. Similarly, your excitement and enthusiasm about your products and services will help motivate the “Whatever” players, the Linemen, to make decisions.

Likewise, Celebrators thrive near Linemen. As I have described the Linemen as “Whatever” players, Celebrators like anyone who will join their party. The Celebrators enjoy audiences. As a Lineman salesperson, it’s vital for you to join the Celebrator’s fan club. This is how Linemen score points.

Most Celebrators value benefits of products and services. But if you’re competition’s products and services are equivalent to yours, then quickly join the Celebrator’s team to influence sales. As a sales representative to the Running Back personality, you should celebrate with the Celebrator who buys your product. Help him celebrate the decision and praise him for it. This makes the Celebrator enjoy doing business with you and ensures a long-term relationship that will keep the revenue stream flowing for your organization and the commissions flowing for you.

Excerpt from “Playing to Win: The Sport of Selling and How You Can Win at the Game” by Allen Guy (Sartoris Literary Group, March 2013).

Allen Guy, author of “Playing to Win: The Sport of Selling and How You Can Win at the Game,” (Sartoris Literary Group, March 2013) is a veteran sales representative and manager with experience that spans more than 25 years and multiple industries. His training and success is evidenced by numerous awards from different companies recognizing him as one of the top performers among his peers.

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