Tip of the Month - Know Your Customer by Stewart Mednick

by 01 Aug 2008
In 1964, Dr. David W Merrill and Roger Reid began research to create a model that could predict the success in selling and management careers. What the partners ended up discovering was that people's behaviors and actions are consistent. They used a social style matrix or system to help define a person?s predictable behavior. If you know the style of your customer, you can effectively communicate and develop a relationship rapidly and with a percieved added value. There are four styles defined: driver, expressive, amiable and analytical. The goal of an effective relationship development specialist; which is what you all are, is: 1) identify which of the four types of social styles you possess. 2) identify the type of your customer, and finally, 3) adjust your behavior to mirror or match that of your customer. People who recognize and adjust to these behavior patterns have a better relationship with other people. There have been a myriad of studies and redevelopments in this field over the last forty years. I encourage you to research more on the topic if interested (www.wikipedia.com keywords ?social styles?). I will focus on these four styles for the purposes of this column. There are two critical dimensions to understand social behavior: assertiveness and responsiveness. Assertiveness is the degree to which people have opinions about issues and publicly make their positions clear to others. Assertive people express their convictions publicly and attempt to influence others to accept these beliefs. These people typically speak out, make strong statements, have a take-charge attitude, and when under tension, they confront the situation. Unassertive people rarely dominate a social situation and often keep their opinions to themselves. Responsiveness is the degree to which people express emotion and tend to respond in social situations. These people readily express joy, sorrow, and anger. They appear to be more concerned with others and are informal and casual in social situations. Less responsive people devote more effort toward controlling their emotions; being cautious, intellectual, serious, and formal. The four social styles are based on a high or low level of assertiveness or responsiveness in various combinations as described below. 1. Driver ? high on assertiveness and low on responsiveness; task-oriented. ?Lets get it done now, and get it done my way?. Drivers work with others only because they must, not because they enjoy people. They have a great desire to advance in the company and are swift, decisive and efficient decision makers. They focus on the present and have little concern for past or future. They base decisions on fact and take risks; wants to look at several alternatives before making a decision. Drivers want to know the bottom line and are not interested in technical information; independent and candid. 2. Expressive ? high on assertiveness and high on responsiveness; warm, approachable, and intuitive. They view power and politics as important factors in their quest for personal rewards and recognition. Though interested in relationships, these are built primarily with supporters and followers recruited to assist in achieving their personal goals. Like drivers they tend to be more ?tell? assertive meaning that they are more likely to tell someone to complete a task rather than ask them to complete the task but, unlike the drivers, expressives are more people oriented. They focus on the future, directing time and effort toward achieving their vision. Little concern for practical details is given in present situations. Decisions are based on personal opinions and they change their minds easily. Sell to them emphasizing benefit to personal status and recognition. They prefer sales presentations and graphics rather than technical or factual statements. Testimonials, need for status and are the first to do or use are key characteristics. Expressives are described as outgoing, enthusiastic, persuasive, fun loving, and spontaneous. 3. Amiable ? low on assertiveness and high on responsiveness; close relationships and cooperation are important. They achieve objectives by working with people, developing an atmosphere of mutual respect rather than using power and authority. They tend to make decisions slowly, building a consensus among people involved in the decision. They ask more questions of others rather than telling others what to do. They typically avoid risks and change reluctantly. These people seldom show true feelings, so it is difficult to read them or sell to them effectively. They avoid conflict and often say things to people to please them despite their own opinions. Amiables want guarantees and do not like lack of follow-through. Benefits are in terms of effects on the involved party?s satisfaction. In a nutshell, they are supportive, cooperative, diplomatic, patient and loyal. 4. Analytical ? low on assertiveness and low on responsiveness; facts, principles, logic. These people tend to be suspicious of power and personal relationships, striving to find a way to carry out a task without resorting to influencing methods. However, they are strongly motivated to make the right decision and do so slowly and in a deliberate method. The analytical is very ?ask? assertive, meaning that they are more likely to ask that a task be completed. They systematically analyze facts, using past indicators for future events. It is prudent for you to use solid, tangible evidence when making presentations to analyticals. They respond to technical expertise and long-term benefits and disregard personal opinion; and tend to be more involved with the task rather than with the relationship with others. Analyticals are described as logical, thorough, serious, systematic, and prudent. (Amiables and analyticals develop loyal relationships; amiables based on personal, and analyticals based on not needing to re-examine a well-reasoned decision.) Practice actively analyzing people that you are in contact with on a daily basis to start to identify these social styles. Start with yourself, and then friends and family. Soon, you will be familiar with the traits of these various styles and will pick up quickly in the initial stages of conversation. Then, be adaptive and ensure that you present and focus key points in a manner that will provide benefit to the client. Review my column in the May 2008 issue about ?The Formula? and apply this new tool so that you can effectively communicate and be perceived by the client as the trusted advisor. Stewart Mednick is a seasoned mortgage banker and published author. His writing focuses on relationship development, customer satisfaction, marketing and sales techniques. Stewart is available for personal coaching and training sessions. If you have a comment or a question for Stewart, contact him at 651-895-5122 or smednick1@netzero.net

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