Using Dialogue to Build Relationships

by | Feb 4, 2021 | Communication Skills, Personality Styles

Building a relationship with a prospect or customer is a prerequisite to successful selling. I believe that creating a genuine dialogue at the beginning of the sales call is critical to making that happen because it’s all about making a genuine connection. It’s focusing on their needs and interests not yours.

At this point you don’t know if they have a need you can fulfill, therefore, your intention is to learn and find out what is most important to them. The key is to build trust which will put them at ease when talking with you. Think about those times when they opened up with you. Why would they give you such personal information? Because you created a safe space, and they thought that you had their best interest at heart.

To create a relationship, you start with a conversation. A good one requires that you focus and use keen listening skills to help you help them dig deep, and that happens when you ask meaningful and relevant questions. Remember that dialogue is two-way.

One of the challenges many salespeople have is just the opposite, because they like to talk. But if you do all the talking, you don’t learn anything, and your conversation is shallow and superficial. Instead, it’s nothing more than fact finding and qualifying. Remember that you want them to be doing two thirds of the talking. For that to happen, you need to ask insightful questions.

One important tool when leading a conversation is to understand the personality styles of everyone who is participating. Your own personality style is a huge predictor of your approach to communication. Each of the four styles has its own default, so you’ll need to pivot to their style to have the most effective and successful dialogue.

Someone with a High-Blue Personality is genuinely interested in the prospect since they are known as the relationship builder. It’s natural for the Blue to put the needs and interests of the customer first. They are naturally inquisitive, especially when it comes to personal information, and are likely to ask questions like, “How did you decide to get into this industry?” Blues being intuitive in nature will dig deeper to find out more about the prospect and are the best at initially building trust in a new relationship.

The test for sellers with a Blue Personality Style is asking the more challenging questions. Blues will avoid conflict and therefore will skirt questions that might cause controversy or uneasiness with the customer. Because Blue’s are so sincere, their intention comes through making this conversation more likely to have a positive outcome.

Someone with a High-Gold Personality is very methodical, preferring to start with an agenda to any meeting. Their communication style is a “give and take” approach. They will ask a question, listen, give their feedback, and then ask the next question. In between every other question they will ask if there are any questions. Checkpoint summaries are also a common technique with Golds, and might sound like this, “Now that I’ve had a chance to learn about some of your most pressing needs, let me summarize to be sure I’ve got it, then I’d like to know what questions you have before we continue?” To a Gold Personality, exploring your needs is their highest priority.

Where the Gold can improve is to work to overcome their default which is to control the conversation. Rather than doing most of the talking, they need to ask solid questions that help identify the needs, such as timeframes, budgets and the financial impact on their business.

Someone with a High-Green Personality style is typically the best at asking questions and at digging deeper, because there are naturally curious and want to learn and gain wisdom. Like the Blue Personality, Greens are intuitive in nature, but because they like to ask a lot of questions, they need to watch out for sounding like they are interrogating their client. This can put the prospect on the defense even though that is not their intent. Greens build relationships by demonstrating and sharing their expertise, while doing their best at fact finding, problem solving and thinking in a futuristic manner. This conversation might sound like, “I noticed in doing my research that your average ‘days on the market’ has risen over the past 18 months, which I’m sure you’d like to reduce. What type of solutions have you considered to improve those numbers?” As the meeting comes to a close, you can expect the Greens to ask for the next steps and how they prefer to move forward.

Because a Green Personality likes to look at all possibilities, they need to work to be more decisive and direct when making recommendations. Then rather than letting the conversation drag on, they need to identify the next steps, then bring the call to an end.

Someone with a High-Orange Personality style like the Gold is more aggressive and prefers to do most of the talking. Even though they are good at thinking on their feet and building relationships, they need to lead a conversation that is two-way and invites the prospect to talk more. This will take patience for the Orange as their enthusiastic nature can drive a one-way conversation that doesn’t net them the knowledge and insights that their clients and prospects have. Instead, a seller with an Orange personality might say, “Now that I’ve told you about me and my company, I’d like to learn more about you. You’ve told me that a recent change in your supply chain has disrupted your distribution timeline. What are you doing to try to prevent further delays?”

Because they like to talk, the Orange Personality needs to work on their listening, so they can ask better follow-up questions and to get the important information they need to serve their client. Staying in the present instead of anticipating their next response will help them improve their listening skills.

The ability to lead a good dialogue is critical to your sales success. Use what you know about the different personality styles and adjust accordingly. And remember, the customer comes first.

Good luck with your relationship selling!

©2021 Stu Schlackman