Understanding the personality types you will come across when working with veterinary practice teams
We are all shaped by our experiences, upbringing, likes, dislikes, education, family, and society. It’s impossible to know all of this about someone else without years of connection and conversation.
While it is probably safe to guess that most veterinarians and veterinary technicians are highly compassionate, caring, science-focused people and had a love for animals at a very early age, this doesn’t tell you much about their buying styles, their decision-making processes, or their personal preferences. This short article will provide some insights into the art of understanding four basic styles of personality types, and the best way to interact with them. Keep in mind that most people are a combination of different styles, but these insights will allow you to more closely identify a person’s primary motivators to foster better communication and relationships.
There are many different sales techniques, books, training methods, and programs. I am a certified trainer in PAR and DiSC. These are both great programs and I would encourage you to look at both when you have a chance. The reality of any of the good sales development programs is that they emphasize people dealing with people. Many times, we are so focused on products and services, we can overlook the most important part of the transaction – the people. Letting the customer’s style lead the conversation is a talent that all successful reps learn to master over time. Let’s look at some of the basic types of customers that you will encounter every day as an animal health sales professional.
The first type of person is often seen as the most difficult to deal with, but they are the type that is most likely to decide and stick with that decision. This type of person is a take charge, results-oriented person. They are often the person in charge at the practice. The owner, the office manager, or an integral staff member. Whatever their role in the practice, this person is in command of their duties and the outcomes. They need little input from others to be effective. This is not to be mistaken for being difficult, bull-headed, or stubborn. These folks just want the pertinent information without all the extraneous conversation bits. They want the details and the effect to the end goal or the bottom line.
Once they have the information that they feel they need, they are very capable of deciding. They respect quick but thorough detail, the benefits, and the price. Identifying characteristics of these folks are a clean, business-oriented work area, short answers, direct questions, no time for chit chat, results driven. When dealing with these folks, it is typically acceptable to verbally acknowledge and honor the direct approach. Engaging with them on a personal level, chatting about topics like the family, or the weather only comes long after a working relationship has been established and you have proven to understand their style and goals.
Another type of person that you will interact with is the influencer. These folks require more conversation than the first type, before you can do business with them. The best part is that they will provide most of the content. Their work space typically has more a familial feel with photos of loved ones, is less organized, but more inviting to others. Influencers love to chat and often do it with enthusiasm. Responding to these folks with genuine interest and acknowledgements of their thoughts and topics will provide you ample time to get your message across after you have heard theirs. Influencers love to build relationships. Being diligent with acknowledgments and showing interest and respect will gain you reciprocal respect. These folks are also capable of making decisions and will often help you to influence others in the process.
Social and stable
A third style that is common is the social and stable person. These folks are very personable but in a more cautious manner. They are often in support roles as associates or partners in the practice. These folks like personal interaction and can be very supportive, but in a more sincere and nurturing way. They require detail and a slower pace than the influencer. There is a tendency to want to make decisions, but the need for collaboration often overshadows the need to decide on their own. Interaction with this type is enjoyable. It is best to frequently visit the facts and check with them to see if they are comfortable with the information. These folks are great team players and often very empathetic, but this can lead to avoidance of change and indecisiveness. Be attentive and specific regarding their questions or insecurities. They need a little extra support and are turned off by aggressive or fast paced sales efforts.
The last style that we will discuss in this article are the calculated and careful people. Interacting with this style of person must happen at their pace or they will shut down. These folks need all the data that you can provide and will analyze every bit of it prior to deciding. They are more reserved and almost shy when it comes to socialization. A fast pace and lack of details will turn these people away quickly. A detailed methodical approach with all the necessary information is the way to win their confidence. Frequently asking this person if there are any other details that they may need, or any other questions that you might be able to answer is the best way to keep these folks engaged. Getting this person to decide is not something that happens quickly. They can decide, but are often afraid of being incorrect. They must be positive about their choice.
There are many variations of these basic styles. Take the time to watch your customer’s body language. See if they are open and inviting or closed and protective. Notice if they invite you and offer you something to drink, or if they invite you in and immediately look at the clock or the computer. Making observations with this information in mind can help you to adapt your style and make the first impression a great one for your customer. Be true to who you are always. Adjust your method of delivery based on some of these styles and signs. You will be a success if you put your customer first!
Todd Brodersen is President of Same Page Consulting, Inc.