When NOT being yourself is a strength!

I worked with a coaching client a few years ago who, by his own admission, wasn’t a great salesman.  He also knew that he was exceptional at keeping customers happy and had an incredibly loyal customer base who loved the thoughtful and attentive service that he (let’s call him Dan) gave.  Everyone liked Dan – he was a caring and genuine guy.

Dan’s frustration came when he was in front of prospects and he found the whole process challenging and outside his comfort zones – to the extent that he ended up paralysed and unable to be effective and close the sale.

But that wasn’t the whole story… Dan had been very successful in building a strong business over the years and “on his day” (his words) he could convince people that they should put their business with him.

It was immediately clear when talking with Dan that he had passion and a great interest in people – he always had the time to ask about you, your family and your business before getting down to the job in hand.  This was a natural people skill and had stood him in good stead… some of the time!

As part of our work together, Dan and I explored how his natural style and preferences might impact on other people he met and, more importantly, tried to sell his services to.

We talked about how people differ – how there are people who are faster paced and others who are more moderate paced and deliberate.  I’m sure you can think of people you know who are very brisk and business like, others who like to be more leisurely and steady in their interactions.  You probably can think of some who are downright direct and sometimes can appear abrupt with it – others who never seem to get to the point!

Likewise, we reflected on whether people are naturally accepting and people focused, or more questioning and task focused.  Dan could think of a number of people who were at each end of this spectrum.  He also saw that he was a naturally accepting and people focused individual.

During our conversations we were able to create a picture for Dan of his behavioural preferences and how they might impact on people he met – both those who were similar and those who were diametrically different!  We use Inscape DiSC® behavioural products in our coaching – a fantastic resource which is at the heart of embedding change through coaching – and making it stick.

Armed with this insight and a little help from his coach (yours truly!), Dan went into his next sales meetings with a different view on how to conduct the sales conversation, depending on the behavioural preferences of his prospects, which he was able to recognise through his new found knowledge – which in turn allowed Dan to adapt his approach to match the preferred style of the person he was meeting.

And do you know what… it worked!  Dan’s conversion rate in the 3 months following the work we did went from around 10% to over 30%!  Some result, I’m sure you’ll agree?

It was the insight into understanding behavioural preferences in our conversations which helped Dan to be more effective.  It’s a great way of improving the effectiveness of sales people and provides a powerful platform for sales performance improvement.

So, with tongue firmly in cheek, I’m suggesting that sometimes, just sometimes, it pays not to rely solely on your strengths when seeking effective communication!