Close the Deal with a Flexible Communication Style
BY Marla Tabaka
Do you have a well-defined communication style? A mode you kick into when you're pitching a client, speaking to an employee or freelancer, or presenting to an audience? Do you speak to all of your prospects and clients in the same tone, utilizing a specific language style and the same persuasion techniques? You've got it down pat, but does this style work well for you in the greater majority of your communications? Do you get the outcome that you desire?
Of course you have your own personality and I'm sure it's charming and communicative, but if your communication style is inflexible then you may not be garnering your best results.
If you are a parent for instance, you've probably softened your words and varied the tone of your voice – from soothing to animated, even silly – when you're speaking with your young child. Why? Because you instinctively know that, while your baby can't understand your words, everyone responds to tones and expression. We as parents all know the power of baby talk and we will communicate in that style if it makes baby happy!
But when we're addressing adults we forget that every individual has a preferred style of communication that is dictated by their personality style. Being flexible in your style of communication is key if you really want them to 'get it.' Doing so can increase your close rates, improve your marriage, and diminish frustration when dealing with employees.
The very first step is to listen and watch. If you are speaking with a prospect for the very first time, encourage them to do much of the talking so you can assess their personality style and communicate accordingly. A corporate executive, for instance, may be very directive. A director wants to cut to the chase and will use their words economically. Approaching this personality-type in a touchy-feely, creative mode will drive a wedge between you faster than you can pass a hot potato! In order to communicate effectively with this person you must get directly to the point, be concise, never make excuses, and align the outcome with their goals. All in about 5 minutes!
If you are meeting with someone who seems very chatty and wants to discuss their life, including the outcome of their son's soccer game, you are in the presence of a socializer. This person wants you to be excited about things with and for them. Getting down to business without a social flair will create mistrust and send him packing.
Read the cues and follow suit; it's no different than speaking to your baby in baby talk or taking a translation book with you to a foreign country. It's just another form of communication; not a personality transplant, nor is it manipulative. You are respecting your listener's style by adapting to it and speaking their language. You will like the results and so will they.
My favorite resource for understanding personality-styles is Dr. Tony Alessandra's, The Platinum Rule. There are other great resources out there and they all say very much the same thing – just in different styles!
You can see the basic highlights of the 4 personality-types here. Let me know how you do once you begin to incorporate these changes into your work and personal life!
Last updated: May 4, 2010
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka