During my more than one and half decade career in Sales & Marketing, I have come across variegated and interesting buyers. There was category of customers that you went to them with your best sales pitch, enlightened them with benefits of owning the product, and when you leave the office, you have orders in your pocket. So simple!
If salesperson’s life had been so simple and smooth, what a life! You sometimes meet people who drive you so crazy with calculations, revised proposals, revised specifications, revised rates, meetings over meetings but you end up with frustration as they are not still willing to commit orders. On the basis of animal behavior patterns of various prospects, I have classified them into six categories and how to deal with them successfully.
The Foxes

They go for extreme degree of calculations. They are number cruncher maniacs. They suffer from “analysis paralysis”. They believe in only one thing: cost/benefit ratio. They are “2-plus-2-is-equal-to-4” kind of people. They will not pay heed to your flashy presentations or how enthusiastically you shake hands with them or how frequently you take their name or how hard you impress them with usual salesman’s gimmicks. If you are not talking to them in their language, you kill the sale.

To me, these are the easiest people to deal. Because they have told you their preferred language, the one they understand and it is the language of numbers. The best way to deal with foxes is to out-fox them in calculations. Convince them with numbers. Talk their language. Tell them the savings. Translate tangible benefits into numbers.

The Ants

Ants are the most conservative buyers. They are not easily swayed or moved by salesman’s eloquence or gift of the gab. They want to make sure that whatever salesperson is presenting is 100% truth and there is no fluff or spice. They want absolute proof of the authenticity of the product.

How to deal with ants? You have to incrementally gain trust of the prospect. If you rush for the closing, ants will recede into their caves. Like an expert dater, you have to move slowly and carefully. If you don’t walk your talk, then leave the ants. Selling to them is not your cup of tea. Give them free samples so that they can experience the taste of the product before making investment. Give them 100% money back guarantees. Giving them 3rd party endorsements will expedite the selling process.
The Jackals

Very interesting species of buyers! They are fond of proving their buying capacity but are very much coward to take actual decisions. They live in fear of being labeled as playing favorites with vendors. They come one step forward and then move two steps backward. They don’t show courage to take independent decisions because of fear of internal politics. They keep on delaying things. It is very important for the salesperson to identify their jackal behavior. They howl a lot about their needs but when it comes to execution, they make excuses of budgets; timing or the boss is not available.

Experienced salespeople after identifying jackal behavior set off on helping the jackals to make decision and mitigate their fears of losing job or reputation. With them your strategy is two-pronged. 1) You induce pain of not taking the timely decision, that how deadly this delaying game can be for their job. 2) You involve their seniors and other colleagues in the decision making process so that jackals can feel comfortable with collective decision. Don’t deal with them in isolation. Bring them to groups and committees so that their fear is mitigated.
The Peacocks

These are the ‘corporate show boys’ and most dangerous and time wasting creature. They have zero authority, zero budgets and absolutely no say in the decision making process. But they project themselves as if they are the linchpin of the organization and they are the one who run the show. They call salespeople, ask them to deliver presentations and keep on inviting proposals after proposals. They boast about their power, they show off their assertiveness but the fact is they are most useless people in the organization. Whenever, salespeople ask for closing the deal, their usual excuse is either they are too busy or boss is not available for final discussion. But they keep the salespeople hooked to false hopes.

Salespeople have to be very intelligent to identify this peacock syndrome and should not waste their time, energy and enthusiasm on such people. Instead, they should let the peacocks dance and amuse and start working on digging out the real decision makers in the organization.
The Dogs

They are the mean category in business organizations. They are the greedy kick-backers. They bark a lot over non-issues. They will exhaust the salespeople with follow-ups, proposals and visits. But if you throw them a ‘bone’, they are very loyal and ardent advocates. You will find such people in many organizations.

Once the dog behavior has been identified, it is easy to deal. Salespeople must take the matter to higher levels and give presentations to groups rather than individuals. Sales process should be purposely slowed down till your product becomes absolute necessity. In case, the business seems going out of hand just because of greed of the dog, there is no harm to muddy the waters by playing politics by aligning with juniors and other colleagues. Effort must be made to be seen with his boss at some social gathering so that the image of connection with the head honcho is projected.
The Pigs

Pigs are worth killing! You will find in often places. Whatever you do, what you offer, they are obstinate and least convinced. They play dirty; they discourage you; they are disrespectful to your product, your organization and even to the profession of selling. They do a lot of bad-mouthing and are chronic and incorrigibly negaholic people.

Once you identify the pig behavior in someone, the best solution is to leave them and invest time somewhere else. Because, whatever you do, you cannot “out-pig” them. I call them the corporate nuts.

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