Sales Training

Relationship Awareness tools help salespeople to see that the key to a successful sales career lies in being able to relate to people on their own terms. Many salespeople believe that in order to sell, they need to use set skills or techniques that turn prospects into customers. Relationship Awareness shows that in order to appeal to potential customers, one needs to speak to them in their own language, tailoring the communication style to each individual. The SDI helps sales professionals to understand how their own motivational values affect how they see the people they are trying to sell to. The Portrait of Personal Strengths will tell them which strengths they use the most-either validating their SDI results, or demonstrating that they are using strengths outside their own Motivational Value System for one reason or another. Feedback Portraits will help them to see what strengths others see them using and which they see them overdoing.

The Portrait of Overdone Strengths will tell them which strengths they are most likely to overdo, and thus what they need to be on the lookout for. In overdoing strengths, it is possible to create a conflict trigger for the potential customer, and thereby lose all chances of a sale. By ensuring that they do not overdo their strengths, salespeople can better relate to others and create a mutually rewarding consultative relationship built on trust and open communication with their customers.

The reality of all relationships is that they are at least bi-directional. That is, there are always at least two people and those two people each bring their own perspective to the relationship. Each person’s perspective, or Motivational Value System in Relationship Awareness terminology, colours all that they say and perceive. The other component then that salespeople need to take into account is the Motivational Value Systems of their customers. Each customer will have his or her own set of motivational values to which the salesperson will need to appeal. The customer’s Motivational Value System will affect how they see the salesperson, and vice-versa. Therefore, to be successful, each client needs to be handled as a unique individual with relationship needs of his or her own.

As a case study, let us examine Bob. Bob is a sales representative who just moved from a position in a fast-paced, high-pressure sales arena to pharmaceutical sales. Bob likes things to be accomplished quickly, without over-analysing, without worrying too much about what the consequences may be, and Bob likes to win. He sees each sales prospect as an opportunity, each sales call as a battle. Bob is having difficulty making the transition. He finds it difficult to relate to the doctors he sells to. One individual with whom Bob is having the most difficulty relating to is Chad. Chad is a neurologist who often deals with pharmaceutical salespeople like Bob. Chad sees salespeople as arrogant, he feels like they do not care about his needs or his concerns, and he tries to avoid contact with them for as long as possible. Chad usually says that he has appointments or meetings already scheduled, does not take Bob’s calls personally, and has, on occasion, failed to show up for scheduled meetings with Bob. He resents Bob and does not look forward to his calls, and especially his visits. To Bob, Chad seems to over-analyse everything; he seems to want too many facts, even facts beyond the information that Bob has been given by his company. Bob feels put off that Chad doesn’t like to take his calls and avoids meetings with him. To Bob, Chad seems nit picking, cold, and suspicious.

In analysing this case, we need to make note that neither Bob nor Chad is “right” in their relating style. A style of relating is only “right” in so far as it gets one what one wants or needs. Having said that, we can look at Bobs position on the SDI, how he rated himself on the Portraits of Personal and Overdone Strengths, what feedback he got on the “Portraits” from friends, family, and co-workers, and then finally, how he applied this to his situation.

Bobs totals were very high on the Assertive-Directing, or “Red” scale of the SDI. People whos totals are high on this scale tend to be like Bob. They see life full of challenges and opportunities. They are quick to act, they see opportunities others do not, and they take risks others will not. They tend to see themselves as exciting, fun, and energetic people. They don’t have much patience for slow-moving, thinking, intellectual types who seem to get mired in the details and seem unable to make decisions. In fact, when Bob completed the Portrait of Personal Strengths, he found most of his top strengths to be “Red” strengths-self-confident, competitive, ambitious, and persuasive were all at the top of his chart. Likewise, on the Portrait of Overdone Strengths, Bob thought he was most likely to overdo ambition and become ruthless, or to overdo persuasiveness and become abrasive.

The feedback on Bob confirmed this further, with friends, family, and co-workers all seeing Bob in the same sort of light. Many felt that Bob could also be arrogant, dictatorial, and combative at times.

Because Bob sought training on his own, and because he did not have a solid relationship with Chad, he did not know Chad’s SDI position, nor did he feel comfortable asking Chad to take the SDI. From Bob’s descriptions of Chad, we assumed that Chad’s Motivational Value System was Analytic-Autonomising, or “Green.” As such, Chad values logic, principles, and being right. He wants to be absolutely certain that the prescription medications he buys from Bob are tested, proven, and safe. He wants to feel absolutely comfortable in recommending them to his patients.

The real learning here is that from Chad’s perspective, all of Bob’s strengths appear to be overdone. Chad does not see assertiveness; he sees aggressiveness. He does not see persuasiveness; he sees abrasiveness. Likewise, from Bob’s perspective, Chad is not analytical; he is nit picking. Chad is not cautious; he is overly suspicious.

By learning how he relates to others, and by learning to read how others relate to him, Bob was able to “tone down” his “Red” strengths that had served him so well in his previous position. He found that when he was dealing with someone who he believed to not share his “Red” perspective and strengths, he needed to soften those strengths so much that, to him, he felt as though he was not using them at all. But, by toning down his “Red” strengths, Bob was able to appeal better to Chad and other doctors like him. He was able to communicate with them on their level, in their language. He knew that he would sell far more by obtaining and supplying more information to Chad than he would by being persistent in calling and scheduling meetings. He learned that by providing the information ahead of time, giving Chad time to review it and respond with questions, and then fielding those questions at the sales meeting, he could win over Chad’s trust and respect. Bob saw that by providing information to Chad via fax or postal mail, he gave Chad the time he needed to review it. Bob learned that Chad especially valued receiving industry-related information that was not marketing-oriented. He saw that Chad was not a cold, suspicious, unfeeling person; he just required time with the facts to make up his own mind. Bob became more than a pharmaceutical sales representative to Chad. He became a valued consultant to him because he learned how to help Chad make an informed purchase decision instead of trying to sell Chad on the products’ benefits. In the end, Bob, Chad, and Chad’s patients all benefited from this newfound respect and open communication.