According to Merrill and Reid there are four personality types or social styles - Analyticals, Drivers, Expressives and Amiables - and all four have their own unique approach to business, their own language and thought processes etc. As a consequence, the very best sales professionals have become adept at recognising which personality they are dealing with and adapt their approach and communication style accordingly.
In every boardroom, you will always find three of the four personality types, occasionally, all four: I have discovered over the years which personality is likely to fill which position on the board but more on that later.
Let's begin by looking at the characteristics of the Driver. Drivers are action and goal oriented, need to see results and have a quick reaction time. They are decisive, independent, disciplined, practical, and efficient. They typically use facts and data, speak and act quickly, lean forward, point and make direct eye contact. Their body posture is often rigid and they have controlled facial expressions.
They rarely want to waste time on personal talk or preliminaries and can be perceived by other styles as dominating or harsh and severe in pursuit of a goal. They are comfortable in positions of power and control and they have businesslike offices with certificates and commendations on the wall. In times of stress, drivers may become autocratic.
Analyticals are concerned with being organised, having all the facts, and being careful before taking action. Their need is to be accurate, to be right. precise, orderly, methodical and conform to standard operating procedures, organisational rules and historical ways of doing things. They typically have a slow reaction time and work more slowly and carefully than Drivers. They are perceived as serious, industrious, persistent, and exacting.
Usually, they are task oriented, use facts and data, and tend to speak slowly. lean back and use their hands frequently. They do not make direct eye contact and control their facial expressions. Others may see them as stuffy, indecisive, critical, picky, and moralistic. They are comfortable in positions in which they can check facts and figures and be sure they are right. They have neat, well organised offices and in times of stress, Analyticals tend to avoid conflict.
Expressives enjoy involvement, excitement, and interpersonal action. They are sociable, stimulating, and enthusiastic and are good at involving and motivating others. They are also ideas oriented. have little concern for routine, are future oriented and usually they have a quick reaction time. They need to be accepted by others, tend to be spontaneous, outgoing, energetic, and friendly and focused on people rather than on tasks. Typically, they use opinions and stories rather than facts and data. They speak and act quickly; vary vocal inflection, lean forward, and point and make direct eye contact.
They use their hands when talking; have a relaxed body posture and an animated expression. Their feelings often show in their faces and they are perceived by others as excitable, impulsive, undisciplined, dramatic, manipulative, ambitious, overly reactive, and egotistical. They usually have disorganised offices and may have leisure equipment like golf clubs or tennis racquets. Under stressful conditions, Expressives tend to resort to personal attack.
And Finally - The Amiable:
Amiables need co-operation, personal security, and acceptance. They are uncomfortable with and will avoid conflict at all costs. They value personal relationships, helping others and being liked. Some Amiables will sacrifice their own desires to win approval from others. They prefer to work with other people in a team effort, rather than individually and they have an unhurried reaction time and little concern with effecting change. Typically, they are friendly, supportive, respectful, willing, dependable, and agreeable. They are also people-oriented.
They use opinions rather than facts and data, speak slowly, and softly, use more vocal inflection than Drivers or Analyticals. They lean back while talking and do not make direct eye contact; they also have a casual posture and an animated expression. They are perceived by other styles as conforming, unsure, pliable, dependent, and awkward. They have homely offices - family photographs, plants etc. An Amiable's reaction to stress is to comply with others.
Most people's first reaction after reading the four profiles is to believe that they fit into more than one category and this is absolutely right. However, everyone has a dominant style and no-one should believe that they fit into more than two because they don't. Let me explain why:
The Social Styles Model:
Note where each style is placed, because this is important. The people, with whom you probably find it most difficult to relate to naturally, are your diagonal opposites on the matrix. So you do need to study the characteristics of your diagonally opposite Social Style.
Now, what I can share with you is that the majority of professional salespeople are Expressives; so clearly, they are going to find it most difficult to relate to and communicate with Analyticals. That is a challenge in itself, because there will always be at least one Analytical within the formal DMU!
What is even more interesting is that Top 5% achievers (yes, a favourite term I know) are Drivers! So you see, they have no difficulty getting onto the same wavelength as Analyticals, because they are side by side and of course they have total synergy with other Drivers, plus, they relate well to Expressives. But, they have little in common with Amiables. Why is that so significant? Well quite simply, the Social Style that you are least likely to find in a boardroom is........ yes, it's an Amiable.
So, which Social Style do the various residents of the boardroom typically have?
Managing Directors/CEO's are typically Drivers, as you might expect.
Finance Directors are usually Analyticals
Sales Directors are nearly always Expressives
Marketing Directors are also Expressives
Technical Directors are almost always Analyticals
And Finally: In Sales
Collaborative Sales Professionals: Top 5% Achievers, are normally Driver/Expressives
Consultative Sales Professionals: Are typically Expressive/Amiables
Traditional Sales Professionals: Are almost always Amiable/Expressives
It is of course dangerous to generalise and there will always be exceptions, however based on my experience, I have very rarely been mistaken using this concept of personality identification.