Sales, at its core, is simply making connections and relating to other human beings who have a problem – one that they hope you can solve. This can make sales very personal, and everyone has their own unique closing strategy or skillset that helps them (and their offering) stand out. However, it’s important to remember that every lead you prospect to also has a unique personality and communication style, and it’s essential to quickly match up “vibes” if you want to start building trust.

By picking up on subtle cues and discovering who you’re prospecting to from the start, you can do exactly that. Below, we’ve outlined five distinct prospects you might interact with on any given day, along with a quick guide to speaking their language:

Commander: George S Patton

1. The Commander

Voted most likely to wear black turtlenecks. Not here to make friends. They have a vision, and they’re in it to win it.

Mindset: Fortune favors the bold.

How to Relate:

  • Exude confidence. They can smell weakness or uncertainty.
  • Prepare an efficient pitch. (Seriously, cut it down by 30% before presenting.)
  • Don’t be afraid to offer big ideas, as long as you have plenty of stats to back them up. (A Commander will take charge of a conversation, so be prepared for rapid fire questioning.)
  • Leave the small talk at the office. Get right to the meat and potatoes.

Pay Special Attention To: Who’s their right hand person? Who do they trust? If you can also build a relationship with this person, they can be a serious resource and ally.

Use sales intelligence scoops to explore current initiatives and leadership moves to start understanding and building a relationship with your prospect before the first touch-point.

Diplomat: Ben Franklin

2. The Diplomat

Friendly and respectful, but weighing all of their options. It might take them a while to find consensus among their team, so hang tight and be a friendly resource.

Mindset: Fair & balanced meets inclusive.

How to Relate:

  • Be open to speaking with multiple team members over a longer sales cycle.
  • Be respectful of their team and timelines, and they’ll reciprocate.
  • It’s often important that collaborations align with their worldview, so small talk and family life might thread through conversations.
  • Patience is a virtue.

Pay Special Attention To: Their work culture and communication habits. How can you best fit in? Using words like ‘our’ and ‘we’ can help to position you as part of the team, well before you close the sale.

Debater: Gerald Ford

3. The Debater

Old School rather than visionary. Doesn’t want to talk philosophy or big ideas. They want concrete examples of real world applications without the sugar coating.

Mindset: Come prepared.

How to relate:

  • Be confident and knowledgeable on a wide range of related ideas or concepts.
  • Share independent research from a third party to support any claims being made by your offer. (The Debater will conduct their own independent research as well, but the gesture will go a long way.)
  • Steer them away from price shopping by demonstrating in no uncertain terms how and why your offer is better than the competition, and the best fit for their business. (As their name suggests, they may debate you on that.)
  • Give them plenty of numbers and facts to chew on. They’re voracious critical thinkers.
    There’s a line between debating and being combative. Don’t cross it, whatever you do.

Pay Special Attention To: The decor of their office, books on the shelf, fashion choices, and examples brought up in conversation, which can give you clues as to who they admire, from business leaders to successful innovators in their field. Perhaps you can find common ground.

Logician: Ada Lovelace

4. The Logician

This personality relies on the numbers. They know the rules and have their favorites earmarked. Slow and steady wins the race here. They’ll need a lot of coaxing & nurturing – but don’t get cute.

Mindset: Give me facts, not promises.

How to relate:

  • Come prepared with numbers and objective reasons why they should choose your offer. They will ask plenty of questions to unearth the facts they need to make a decision.
  • Unlike The Diplomat, who asks questions related to how your offer will benefit their team or work culture, The Logician is more interested in your actual features and benefits in relation to the problem they are attempting to fix.
  • While The Commander may seem to thrive on drama, and The Debater lives for witty arguments, this personality will take criticism to heart. Be sensitive and empathetic to their needs and feelings.
  • Remain objective and let them draw their own conclusions. At most, you can gently nudge them in the right direction – but never push.

Pay Special Attention To: The communication method these analytical minds prefer, whether it’s email, phone conversations, or face-to-face. Many may be inadequate at one method – but easily able to communicate through another.

Advocate: Rosa Parks and MLK

5. The Advocate

Defender of the business and devoted to its long-term health and success. Focused on a customer-centric strategy. Open to change and not afraid to make bold decisions, but wants to be sure it will work first.

Mindset: Empathy is the secret to success.

How to relate:

  • Be creative. They don’t want to do what everyone else has done. They want to draw a line in the sand, and do what’s best for their brand and the people who love it.
  • Appeal to their emotional intelligence, but always support your position with logic and rational thought as conversations deepen.
  • They’re focused on people, so come prepared with examples on how your offer will directly benefit their employees, their customers, or both.
  • Provide specific, real world examples on how you can change someone’s day-to-day for the better or help them solve their problem through the power of community or emotional bonds.

Pay Special Attention To: The problem their business is trying to solve. Can you be empathetic to this issue? How can you help them win their cause?

We understand that selling can be difficult, especially with so many different types of DMs in the world. But at the end of the day, they’re just a person, and so are you. You don’t need to watch clips of Wolf of Wall Street or Glengarry Glen Ross to get yourself pumped up every day. And you don’t need posters of “inspirational” quotes scattered about your office. Just take a breath, KYP (Know Your Prospect), and try to find some common ground. You might be surprised how far it will take you.

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Claire McEachern
About the author

Claire McEachern

Claire has 15+ years of creative communications, digital marketing, account and project management expertise in both the B2B and B2C environments. She has a passion for merging technical and creative skills in order to create narratives that educate, entertain, and call-to-action audiences on both the prospect and customer sides of the house. She has a B.S. in Sociology from James Madison University and an M.S. in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University.