It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I was never fond of the various personality models that appeared over the years. These were the programs that identified various personality types and provided insight into the things about yourself that you never quite understood before.
For a period of time, it seemed as if every company I worked with was investing in these programs to help them sell more effectively. After all, once you went through this extensive, multi-page assessment, you had a pretty accurate understanding of what motivates you, what demotivates you, how you want to be managed, strengths and weaknesses of selling, and much, much more.
Personally, I fought these programs for one, stubborn reason: I felt the information I was gaining from these assessments was absolutely perfect… as long as I was selling to ME for the rest of my life! I always felt the information was aimed at the wrong person! I’m as interested as the next guy to learn more about myself, and be a better person, but quite frankly, I didn’t want this to be about me. I wanted it to be about the person sitting across from me!
So I treated these programs with disdain often claiming: “Who needs them?!” I can’t go to my clients and say, ‘Uh, pardon me, would you mind taking this assessment so I can figure out how to sell to you more effectively?” In my book, this conversation about personality had no business in the trenches with real sales training. It was insulting to me that these models even dared to try and pass themselves off as sales models!
And then I realized I was wrong. So often, I would field questions from audience members and I would hear things like: “How long should I spend chitchatting with a client before I move into the business side of things?” Wouldn’t that depend of the personality of the client?
The fact is that I needed those personality models, and I appreciated their attention to learning more about individual human behavior. But those personality models needed more attention to skills that taught true selling techniques as well.
Full personality assessments are great as management tools, and wonderful to show family and friends at parties, but they won’t be a lot of help when you are training your eyes on someone else you are meeting for the first time. What will work is studying how someone dresses, how an office or home environment is set-up, or even learning to read personality from emails and voicemails. These kinds of reads will give you a head start, and your early questions will allow you to fine tune your assessment.
In the real world, many personality reads are made on the fly so it’s extremely difficult to juggle the level of detail in multi-level assessments. You don’t need such in depth assessments. I think there are just three personality types that will cover all of the bases for you. They are the dominant, the analytical, and the social personality.
Our natural behavior is to try and communicate with people with whom we would naturally feel comfortable: People who are like us. Unfortunately, when you are trying to persuade someone else, it’s his or her personality that matters, and that means communicating in the way that person would like to be communicated with.