The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 24, 2017 • Issue 17:04:02
Simple questions set the stage for results
Whether you're on a cold call or at an appointment with an interested prospect, if you're meeting for the first time, it can be difficult to establish rapport. As a merchant level salesperson (MLS), you may encounter any number of personality types while on the job.
Sanjay Srivastava, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon and director of the university's Personality and Social Dynamics Lab, studies how personality affects and is affected by the social environment. He and other researchers subscribe to the theory that there are five personality types, dubbed the Big Five described at http://pages.uoregon.edu/sanjay/bigfive.html as follows:
- Extraversion (sometimes called Surgency). The broad dimension of Extraversion encompasses such more specific traits as talkative, energetic, and assertive.
- Agreeableness. Includes traits like sympathetic, kind, and affectionate.
- Conscientiousness. Includes traits like organized, thorough and planful.
- Neuroticism (sometimes reversed and called Emotional Stability). Includes traits like tense, moody and anxious.
- Openness to experience (sometimes called Intellect or Intellect/Imagination). Includes traits like having wide interests, and being imaginative and insightful.
A little preparation goes a long way
Of course, you don't need to study this or any other system of human personality traits to excel at your job, but it does help to realize that people have tendencies that affect their responses to you that have nothing to do with you and what you have to offer. People who are extraverted, agreeable and open to new experiences may be easier to deal with initially; those who are highly organized and thorough might ask more detailed questions than you'd like, and those who are moody or anxious might increase your level of tension and make it more difficult for you to function optimally.
So how can you prepare when you can't be certain what type of person you're about to encounter?
In Good Selling! The Basics, Paul H. Green offered suggestions for getting past awkward first meetings. "It may help to take a few minutes and get to know the person a bit before jumping in with both feet," he wrote. He suggested the following transition phrases to start building relationships with prospects:
- Your staff is very personable. Do you have special employee programs to keep morale up?
- I saw you in the paper (saw your company on the business page, etc.). Do you have a PR department or do you do that on your own?
- I saw an article about your type of business in Sunday's paper. Did you see it?
- This is an excellent location. Do you get a lot of traffic from XYA's store?
- It seems that you run the show around here. How many hours per week are you here?
- I see your plaque on the wall. Who is it from?
This should help you come up with a list of go-to questions tailored to your target merchants for those times when it appears a conversation could head into awkward territory. Often, it's low-tech tools that help close accounts and sometimes even lead to life-long friendships as a result.
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