The classic mistake that many financial professionals make is to assume that every client (or potential client) will automatically plug in to their style of communication. They won’t. If you expect clients to accommodate you, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead of enjoying a fruitful relationship, you’ll experience a communication breakdown and disintegration of trust. And without trust, there is no relationship between you and your client—and no reason for that client to remain with you.

During the course of my research on client behavior, I have asked hundreds of individuals the following question: “When in a sales situation, how do you like to be approached?” Answers varied, which means you need to vary your sales approach accordingly—one size does not fit all.

The changes you make in your approach with clients, though often simple in nature, will be profound in effect because they help those clients feel comfortable with the information and ideas you are sharing. In this article, I’ll introduce you to four client personality types, and provides tips for working with each one. In Selling with Emotional Intelligence, I discuss these four personality types in more detail. To be able to determine the personality style of your client, pick up a copy of the book or consider joining (where you will enjoy unlimited access to the tools discussed in the book including the TEAM Dynamics profile).

Togetherness Personality

Togetherness clients want to know that you are focused on how they feel, and how you treat them. It is essential to not rush things and to pay close attention when they speak. If you appear to be distracted while they are speaking, they will shut you down.

Provide these clients with specific steps and time frames, but do not force a buying decision. One of the things people with this personality type have shared with me during my research is that they will let you know when they’re ready. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with this type of client:

  • Demonstrate respect by paying close attention when they talk.
  • Demonstrate sincerity. They want to like you before they work with you.
  • Go slowly. Wait until they trust you.
  • Ask about their feelings regarding your product or services and its applicability.
  • Do not force them into a buying decision. Avoid pressure tactics.
  • Tread lightly because it is easy to offend the Togetherness personality.
  • Allow them time to think things through.
  • Refer to your satisfied clients.
  • Use statements of commitment and seek a commitment.
  • Identify specific steps and time frames.

Togetherness clients have their antennae up for honesty, integrity, sincerity, and respect. They are quickly turned off by those who fail to demonstrate those abilities. The word “we” is particularly significant to the Togetherness personality because it connotes partnership and collaboration.

Enterprise Personality

These clients are focused on speed and efficiency. They want to know ahead of time how much of their time you want. To win their undivided attention, tell them up front, “I need ten minutes of your time,” and then stick to it—unless they prolong the conversation. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with this type of client:

  • Uncover their top concern/priority.
  • Don’t talk about your company before you ask what they want (concisely).
  • Stress bottom-line benefits.
  • Establish context upfront. Start with the end result and work back.
  • Ask for their opinion and affirm it without sounding like you are pandering.
  • They will view long stories or overly enthusiastic presentations as phony.
  • Prepare for a quick decision based on facts.
  • Give options and possibilities, and let them decide.
  • Don’t contradict unless you have information and confidence to back it up.
  • Allow them to talk themselves out of a position rather than to be talked out of it.

Don’t be a slave to your script. Instead, be willing to customize your plan for them if that’s what it takes. You also better be able to pinpoint when the deal is going to get done and then follow through quickly. Show them that you mean it and be confident in your approach.

Analyzer Personality

Analyzers are all about facts. They can be a tough group because they have a natural aversion to “selling.” Slow your pace and listen intently when working with an Analyzer. Lead with facts, or you’ll be quickly written off. Takes notes to demonstrate that you are listening.

Avoid exaggeration, emotion, and overpromising. Summarize your presentation carefully. Use the notes that you took to summarize exactly what you heard during the meeting (and to let them know you were listening): the main concerns, the direction you discussed, and the timeline. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with this type of client:

  • Slow your pace—listen intently.
  • Be accurate. Don’t approximate or round off numbers.
  • Do your homework. Be prepared to provide details.
  • Set the stage for trust by using data.
  • Explore their interests (the latest technologies, etc.).
  • Support each feature/benefit statements with logic and rationality.
  • Never hurry them with tone or body language.
  • Summarize your presentation carefully.
  • Detail how you’ll follow through.
  • Avoid hyperbole and overly animated presentations.

The biggest concern that Analyzers have is doing the right thing. This is why they ask so many questions. Your job is to help them find the right products for their needs and to assure them that they are making the right decision.

Motivator Personality

Start with a smile. Motivators need to see friendliness. Try to be somewhat informal, signaling to them that you will be enjoyable to work with.

Ask about their histories, victories, and goals. Motivators love to tell their stories. When selling, lead with passion, and follow with features and proof. In many ways, Motivators require the opposite of Analyzers. Motivators love a good metaphor, illustration, anecdote, or analogy because they bring dry facts to life.

Avoid small print and thick presentations. When you put small print or a big presentation in front of Motivators, they back up and become tense. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with this type of client:

  • Pick up your pace and energy.
  • Talk about the potential of your product and services.
  • Describe your benefits and program with passion.
  • Use storytelling, illustrations, anecdotes, metaphors, and true life experiences.
  • Be prepared to respond to a quick decision.
  • Ask lots of questions about your client—their histories, their victories.
  • Provide an opportunity for your clients to vocalize their goals.
  • Use an informal and sociable approach.
  • Avoid small print and thick presentations.
  • Focus on payoffs for them (recognition, excitement, income).

Negativity is a deal killer. Don’t walk into a Motivator’s office complaining. Don’t exercise your cynicism in front of Motivators. They want to know that you are a positive person. They want to deal with optimistic people who are going to get the job done—not with people who are habitually whining and complaining.

Motivators by nature are optimistic people, and they want to believe that there’s something bigger and better that they can do. They want to reach the goal that’s never been reached; so talk in terms of opportunity and achievement.

As I’m sure you’ve realized after reading this, personality types are as disparate as the number of people you are working with. Chances are some clients will have combinations of profile types so it’s not always straightforward. For example, I’m pretty sure negativity is a buzzkill for all personality types, even though it’s most pronounced with Motivators.

Remember, at the core of everyone you meet is a unique personality DNA driving their perspectives, communication, and responses (including how they respond to you). But more importantly, remember that no two clients are the same, even if they share the same personality type. Once you understand that you need to adapt to your client’s personality—and not vice versa—you’ll notice a positive difference in how those clients respond to you.