I recently had an epiphany that I want to share with you. Bear with me as I begin my story almost 15 years ago…
When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I spent years switching jobs, moving from city to city (NYC, Boston, Concord, NH, just to name a few) and generally being aimless.
At one point I decided “wouldn’t it be fun to work in an art gallery?” So I walked into the nicest one, on Newbury Street (Boston) and asked if they were hiring.
When the gallery curator interviewed me, the conversation went (something) like this:
“Do you have any sales experience?” — “Uh, no.”
“Do you have any art background?” —“Hmmm. Nope.”
“Have you ever done anything like this at all?” —“Well, last summer I visited 45 cities in 60 days to hand out Dentyne Ice chewing gum samples on street corners. Does that help?” [See pic at right]
Maybe they were hurting, because despite my un-qualifications I got the job. So I packed up, left bustling Concord, NH, and moved to Boston to sell art.
By the 3rd month, I hit #1 in the Boston gallery. In month 9, I ranked #2 among ALL of the art consultants across the entire national franchise. What happened?
I didn’t get this back then, but in retrospect, it’s clear. I’d studied psychology in college, and in the absence of ANY art knowledge OR sales skills, I relied on a basic “Psych 101” technique: personality profiling.
When people walked into the gallery and it was my “up,” instead of accosting and trying to “sell” them, I focused on reading their body language, adapting to the cues, and developing rapport, mostly by educating them and focusing on the stuff that they wanted to talk about. The sales followed. Lots and lots (and lots!) of sales.
The lesson that I see now, in retrospect, is that I was successful selling because I wasn’t focused on the sale. Instead, I was focused on building relationships, and ultimately TRUST. People want to do business with regular people – not with salespeople, not with logos, not with marketers. Moreover, they want to do business with people they LIKE.
To that end, one of the most powerful ways to connect with other human beings is to adapt to their unique personality type. Do you know the 4 basic types? If not, here’s my “secret weapon” so you can use it too.
First and foremost, it is important to understand that we ALL have elements of all types, but like a preference for right-handedness or left-handedness, most of the population exhibits a natural preference for certain ways of being over others. When we understand our natural preferences, and those of others, communication and interaction is just easier.
In addition, there are MANY different ways of categorizing personality type – The Myers Briggs Type Instrument (a 16-type distinction that, incidentally, my company is certified to administer and interpret), DISC, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and many, many more.
Below is a SIMPLIFIED 4-type distinction* that can quickly get you to a place where you are recognizing and adapting to different styles. In this type paradigm, there are 4 basic personality types: Lions, Monkeys, Owls and Koalas.
The below designations are adapted from several sources, but the essence is based on my favorite: The Referral Institute’s Behavioral Styles model.
The Lions and Monkeys (top of the chart below) tend to do things FAST. They walk fast, talk fast, drive fast and decide fast.
The Owls and Koalas (bottom of the chart below), tend to take their time. They like to consider things more carefully and tend to be more circumspect in making decisions.
The Lions and Owls (left side of the chart), tend to be more TASK-oriented, whereas the Monkeys and Koalas (right side of the chart) tend to be more PEOPLE-oriented.
The below chart helps you by giving clues about how to adapt to each type.