February 26, 2013


“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

This oft-quoted bit of common sense has an application in closing sales techniques.  People tend to buy from those they like and trust, and one of the best ways to get them to like and trust you is to emulate their personality type when presenting and closing sales.

The most successful salespeople are able to relate to a wide variety of personality types. Depending on who you ask, there may be as little as two (“passive” or “aggressive”) to as many as 30 different personality types to consider in sales. As an example, JPMorgan Asset Management uses five categories to classify its millionaire investor as revealed by the Wall Street Journal:

  • Thrillionaire: aggressive thrill seekers
  • Coolionaire: thoughtful, interested in beauty and style
  • Reallionaire: pragmatic spenders, down-to-earth
  • Wellionaire: focused on things which make them feel good mentally and physically, holistic
  • Willionaire: interested in social causes, giving back to the world.

While these describes some millionaires, what about the rest of the world? And which sales closing methods should be used for each type? Considering that there are so many different opinions as to what these types are and how to handle each, let’s go with two very simple, yet effective, ways to match the personality in front of you to better close sales.

Emulate the Body Language

In dealing with an aggressive prospect, you will most likely encounter folded arms, leaning forward, furrowed brows, and other signs that apparently show “combativeness.” This doesn’t mean the prospect is actually being aggressive towards you, so instead of backing off, try to mimic their body language without being too obvious.  If they lean forward during your close, you lean forward slightly too. If they lean back, do the same. This works amazingly well, probably because body language is a most primal form of communication.

Talk the Same Talk

Don’t ever call a C-level exec “Dude”…unless she meets you in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops. Even then, you should still show a modicum of respect to those prospects who seem to take everything in stride without a care in the world, while adjusting yourself to match her more casual language and slower speech. If you try to close a relaxed, emotionally-aware buyer with an aggressive spewing of facts and logic, you will likely fail. Instead, listen closely and try to use the same manner of speech, even if it means speaking in what seems to be a painfully slow manner, with the flowery, descriptive language many emotional personality types use.

While they should learn the different closing sales techniques suitable for different buyer types, salespeople would be well served by understanding that not everyone fits neatly into these categories. Simply trying to get into communication and establishing a common reality will do wonders for handling the buyer in front of them, something which the two quick tips above will help them do beautifully.

Happy selling!