Why don’t they understand? When communication breaks down.
Do you ever come across people that just don’t think the same way you do? Some people are over analytical while others totally fly by the seat of their pants. Some are super detail-oriented while others are way too general. Some just care about business results while others are more interested in how people are affected in the business. There are no rights or wrongs in any of these “types” of people. They are just different and the more aware of who they are, the better you will be at communicating with them. Sometimes the people we want or need to connect with are your customers. Sometimes they are your peers. Sometimes it’s your boss. If you have ever had a hard time really communicating or connecting with any these people, then you could run into problems. Why does this happen? Why can’t everybody think about things the same way you do?
Well the answer is that a lot of these characteristics are “baked in” to every one of us as a result of our upbringing. Some characteristics go all the way back to our childhood and even potty training. People can learn to be more versatile, but the chances that you are going to change who you are is pretty small. The good salesperson learns to spot certain characteristics about their customers and learns to communicate in the style that makes most sense to them. If you are selling to a CEO that is all about action and results and bottom line, then a good sales person is not going to go into details about specifications of the product/service. Instead, he/she is going to talk about how their product/service is going to help that CEO’s business and bottom line. Likewise, if you are talking to an engineer, you better not take that approach because most of them want to dig under the covers and dig into those details. Recognizing somebody’s “style” is crucial in selling to them.
Likewise, a good sales leader can recognize the styles of their peers, their team members and their boss when communicating to them. I can’t tell you how many times we have seen a sales leader and a CEO have trouble connecting. I’ve seen times when the sales leader wants to present their idea to the CEO and get approval to do something new. They have put together great data and reports and analytical information, but when they go to present that information, the CEO doesn’t want to take time to look at any of it. They just want a summary and recommendations, then are non-committal. This frustrates both of them. But if that same sales leader recognized HOW the CEO wants to consume information, they may have presented things in a very different way and got the approvals they sought.
There are a slew of assessment tools on the market that are great at defining the “style” of yourself and others. The help to understand how others look at the world, what is most important to them and the most effective ways to communicate with each other. Some of the most popular ones are DiSC, Wilson Learning’s Social Styles. Strength Finders and Meyers-Briggs. Some will put a label on each type such as Driver, Expressive, Amiable or Analytical (or something similar) while others define you as a color or even an animal. The label doesn’t matter nearly as much as understanding who you are as well as the style of the people that you need to work with. Understanding this almost always helps to be more effective in how you work with others.