Venus and Mars aside – are buyers from a different planet?

I was pleased to be asked to help a large motor manufacturer with their sales teams some time ago. The burning question they had of their sales teams on the shop floor of the car dealership was:

Why would a (very well) commissioned sales person not get out of their seats to approach and greet a new potential buyer? Instead they would prefer to stay behind the security of their desks.

The answer they had received when formally asking their team was: “Because we can just tell by just looking at them if they are a serious buyer or not.”

The sales people were so confident about their assessment skills they even had a list of descriptions that helped identify these non-buyers to their colleagues: “He’s a tyre kicker…”; “She’s a ‘I don’t want to bother you’…” or even a ‘bog snorkeler’ (sounds attractive)!

Confident of their initial assessment – any initial communication with said ‘Tyre kicker’ usually confirmed their initial thoughts, or, were they only seeing the evidence that they wanted to?

What is the potential buyer thinking while this is going on in the sales people’s heads?

Blissfully unaware, at this point, of the perceptions and judgements the sales people were basing on their presence and behaviour. The potential buyers would be left to wander round and collect evidence for themselves that the salespeople were not interested in them and then leave.

Isn’t it interesting how one event has been totally differently perceived and experienced by the two sets of people? It is said that negative news spreads faster, wider and is more memorable than positive news and this was certainly the case for some of these dealerships. The potential buyers were disillusioned with the lack of attention and customer service during their visit and shared that impression with others.

Enter The SDI & Portraits. The task I was engaged to carry out on behalf of the Motor Manufacturer…

I introduced SDI to the sales teams and we worked through giving each member of the team an image of their team and also the opportunity to position some of their favourite (previously believed to be) ‘non-buyers’.

Through some simple exercises we highlighted the importance of communication based on our personal filters. The SDI talks about Motivational Value Systems (MVS) – everyone has a unique and different set of motives which affect how they interpret the effect of their own behaviour of other people. The team learned quickly how their own filters were giving them quite clear but potentially incorrect feedback on the intentions of certain buyers when they walked into the dealership. Once this seed of uncertainty and doubt had been sown, especially the question concerning how certain MVS’ might perceive their behaviour and the link between that and missed opportunities had been made, there was increasing interest.

Then we moved on to some specific individual-based feedback

After the exercises has highlighted the influence of each MVS – I then moved on to introduce the ‘Portrait of Personal Strengths’. The sales teams were asked to complete this behavioural tool thinking specifically of the strengths they used in their role as sales people.

We then identified the typical profile of buyers who they had been successful with using their top strengths. The next step was to extend the exercise to look at identifying the profiles of the potential buyers where their natural style would not work.

Now, at this point I could sense there was some concern that there was little hope for some of them until they realised that the strengths that were listed at the bottom of their portraits (i.e. the ones that were not necessarily used that frequently) were not out of reach. Plus, the old and ever present challenge of ‘why should I change my behaviour?’ was being answered by linking the new behaviours directly to their own MVS to create better results for each sales person

Pulling together the self-learning and putting it into perspective

The results from these exercises are displayed on a large SDI triangle (pictured left) – which we use as an easy visual map. Imagine, if you will, that each of the coloured areas represent a country …where each of the locals speak a different language and have a different culture.

When there is an important issue at stake, like perhaps a decision to buy a £50,000 car or not, it would be useful if we had an appreciation of their language so that we could explain things in a way that they really understood and each of the benefits we were describing.

This also helps to quite simply realise any potential for offending certain cultures simply through our own style and ignorance of what is important to them.

The outcome from SDI learning as an individual and in a team

The learning has enabled the sales teams to develop specific behavioural and language based strategies to identify which ‘country’ their potential buyers come from and then select the most appropriate strengths from any position on their ‘Behavioural Portrait’ proved to be a very successful combination.

Are you aware of what your key relationships want from you?

Are you deploying what you are most comfortable with rather than what your key relationships (work or personal) want from you? Which teams in your business could benefit from understanding how to communicate more effectively with a wider cross section of their clients?

Please feel free to ask me a question about how we use SDI to support sales teams to improve their relationship, communication and sales skills. You can do this by commenting below, emailing me, tweeting me or giving my team or I a call on 01780 480 102.


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