Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

What’s Your Customer’s Communication Style?






Direct or Indirect?
 
I recently sat down with a potential client for the first time in his office. He graciously asked me if I’d like a cup of coffee or a bottle of water. When he returned, I planned to explore his goals for the upcoming semi-annual sales meeting.

Unfortunately, the meeting took a different turn when he launched into a dialogue. A dialogue that continued for 45 minutes, non-stop. The only skill I could display during that time was eye contact, gestures and attentiveness.

Has that ever happened to you?

Either way, your sales efforts will be more effective by being aware of the different varieties of communication styles that you may encounter.
To keep it simple, do you prefer to do the talking or the listening?

Obviously, it’s hard to do both at once. Someone has to talk while hopefully the other person is listening, even when it can be hard to listen if you’re a talker!

Those who typically like to talk have what’s called a direct communication style - they like to control the conversation. They are explicit, use definitive statements and get right to the point. Those with the direct style have strong opinions and like to tell others the way things are, even recommending their approach. They have no shortage of ideas.

Direct styles are persuasive by nature and are usually among the most active participants in meetings. You can easily identify them by their use of words such as “should” or “have to.” The default for the direct style is to “order” and “act.”

The opposite of the direct style is the indirect. Indirect communicators would prefer not to control the conversation. They are more subdued and will observe quietly in meetings. Their default is to ask questions and then they will offer suggestions. Words that identify their style are “maybe” or “possibly.” They will ask others to consider their ideas. Where the direct style likes to order and act, the indirect style prefers to “observe” and “wait.”

Direct communicators are usually more aggressive than the indirect, who are more on the passive side. When trying to identify someone’s style, you’ll also want to consider whether the person is an introvert or an extrovert.

Generally, indirect communicators lean towards being introverted and direct towards being extroverted. Of course, there are always exceptions.
Extroverts prefer to answer questions directly and are fast-paced in nature. Typically, extroverts lean towards the impatient side. Introverts answer questions indirectly or might even skirt the question or respond by asking a question. Introverts are more patient than extroverts.

When you’re on a sales call like the one I mentioned, and an extrovert with a direct style gets started, it’s usually best to let them have the floor. Your job is to actively listen and respond with gestures such as nods of approval. That’s what satisfies their nature.

With an introvert, indirect person, respond to their questions, slow down your rate of speech and ask for feedback.
 
The ultimate goal of identifying and modifying your communication style is so you can better connect with the client.
 
The number one asset of every great sales person is their ability to adjust their communication style to satisfy the needs and style of their client.

Relationships are built on trust and to develop trust, you need to connect in a way that is natural – to them.
After a couple of minutes with a client, ask yourself: who am I with?
 
When you ask this question, it takes the focus off of you and puts it on the customer, which is exactly where you need to be.

Good selling!
Stu


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