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Commentary by Alan G. Bayham

RISMEDIA, July 29, 2008-It happens over and over again. The agent delivers an outstanding presentation to the prospect. She not only knew all the facts, but also about all of her competitors. Her vocal skills were impeccable, and she portrayed professionalism and confidence. Her close was strong and affirmative.

But her prospect – a very prominent physician – said he would “consider” using her if it became “appropriate.” He may as well have said, “No.” So, what went wrong?

While it is true that everyone is different and unique, it’s also true that people tend to fall into four basic behavioral types when it comes to buying a service or product. The success (or failure) of the sales call is dependent upon the sales representative being able to distinguish the correct behavioral type of the prospect, the sales message and also the appropriate communication style. For example, a sales representative cannot sell the same way to Donald Trump as he can to Richard Simmons, and visa versa. The product is the same in both sales calls, but in order to close the sale effectively, the approach and the message would (or should) be different to each of the four categories.

The Donald Trump – The Direct Type

This buyer is usually a Type A personality – think, “Donald Trump.” They are usually in a hurry and tend to be very direct in their conversation. Direct Type Buyers are often blunt and even interrupt the sales representative constantly. They state their opinions as fact. They are impatient and demanding, wanting to get to “the bottom line” quickly.

While you want to be direct and specific, provide alternatives so that the Direct Type Buyer can make the decision to buy. Let this buyer speak and you listen. Do not go into all the details or try to control the situation. Ensure he/she “wins.” You must act quickly, because this buyer type decides fast. Whatever happens, don’t take issues personally.

The Richard Simmons – The Interpersonal Buyer

This buyer is very friendly and excitable, often animated – think “Richard Simmons.” They cannot focus on details and jump from subject to subject. Because they don’t always have the ability to listen for long periods, they may ask the same question several times. Interpersonal Buyers are more interested in forming a relationship than they are in buying.

Schedule time for chatting and let this buyer speak, giving recognition as appropriate. Talk about people and feelings. As you converse with this buyer type, move closer and maintain a positive atmosphere. You want to show how your will help to achieve popularity and recognition. Focus on the people aspects. Do not fail to socialize. Also, do not set hard restrictions, unless absolutely necessary.

The “Aunt Bee”- The Safety or Status Quo Type

These buyers usually appear calm and do not get easily excited, imagine speaking with “Aunt Bee” from the old Andy Griffith show. They listen carefully and ask specific questions. Completely new ideas/things make these buyers uncomfortable.

It is key to slow down your presentation and build trust. Provide the necessary information that this buyer needs logically, and secure commitment piece by piece. Ask specific questions to find out true needs, and then provide support. It is also advantageous to provide precedents or examples of previous success to reduce uncertainty. Be sincere and do not dominate.

The Albert Einstein – The Contemplative Buyer

These buyers are usually very quiet. They focus on details and ask questions. The “Albert Einstein” characters of the world study specifications and other information carefully. In fact, they may have even done some research on your product or service prior to your sales call.

When selling to this type, patiently provide facts and plenty of detailed information. Go slowly and do not invade his or her private space. Avoid talking about personal issues or small talk. Listen carefully, and then answer questions calmly and carefully. Be thorough; remember to include all relevant information, utilizing written supporting documentation. Find out what the key issues are and focus on them. Don’t move too fast, move too close or lose patience in providing all the requested information. Also, don’t expect decisions right away.

In order to be successful, sales representatives must tailor their approaches and messages very differently to each Buyer Behavioral Type. Let’s examine the differences below:

As the numbers suggest, professionals who try to use the same “canned” message will be effective only 25% of the time because the approach and message will be effective only for the buyer behavior type it was designed for. The ability to recognize the various behavior types and adapt the sales call appropriately takes training and practice.

Also, just as buyers fall into one of each of these buying types, so do sellers. More times than not, sales representatives will have to learn (and train) themselves on how to adapt their own behavioral type to the specific prospect they’re calling on.

Success in the sales arena will increase exponentially by training sales representatives on how to properly identify the behavioral type of their prospect, and how to adapt the sales approach and message appropriately.

Alan Bayham is a business coach and consultant with a Masters Degree in Organizational Management combined with more than 30 years of experience in leadership, management and marketing training. As the president of Bayham Consulting, LLC, he has worked with worked with companies ranging from small- and medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

For more information, call 504-259-8682 or visit