Have you ever agreed to a prospecting call and just couldn’t wait for the sales rep to get to the point? Or maybe they were so high-energy and in-your-face that you were overwhelmed? Each of us has our own natural pace and priority to how we communicate, and if you are interacting with customers, it is critical to match their pace and priority.
GreatAmerica had the privilege of hosting Meridith Elliott Powell during our National Sales Meeting last month. She took us through an activity that helped us think about our own “style” of communication and why we should take it into account when communicating with prospects and customers.
First, Meridith asked us which pace we could identify ourselves with:
Fast-Paced & Outgoing
If you ask this group, “do you want to?” they are answering ‘yes’ before you even finish your question. Meredith tells us when communicating with a fast-paced and outgoing person, your energy level and pace needs to be picked up. It can be irritating to this type of person when others move slowly. If there is hesitation after they ask a question, they might just answer the question themselves! Silence freaks them out in a conversation and they constantly need to keep things moving.
Reserved & Methodical
This group of people does something pretty amazing. They actually think before they speak! These reserved and methodical-paced people like to contemplate before forming an opinion or communicating an idea. High-energy people can be overwhelming and annoying, so when communicating with somebody like this, you want to bring your tone down. Having somebody so in-your-face and energetic can be a major turnoff and they may not hear anything you say.
So what group are you in? Could you put a prospect or customer of yours in one of these categories?
Once we covered pacing, it was time to tackle priority. Meredith says people either lean towards relationship-oriented or task-oriented. To figure out which one you are, answer this question: “if you got an extra 15 minutes tomorrow morning, would you rather scratch something off your to-do list, or have a cup of coffee and talk to a colleague?”
If the latter resonated with you, there is a good chance you prioritize relationships over tasks. This type of person likes to spend the first 15 minutes of their day getting a cup of coffee and walking around the office saying “hi” to everybody. If you are doing business with this type of person, you have to be okay with not actually getting to business for a while. They want you to take interest in their personal lives, families and activities before talking business.
If you are more interested in scratching something off your list, you are likely a task-oriented person. These types of people are less interested in what everybody did over the weekend, and just want to get to work. When dealing with prospects and customers with a higher priority on tasks, you have to recognize they may want to get to the business at hand and have the relationship happen after.
Meridith speculates most breakdowns in communication happen between these last two groups of people. For example, if your prospect is task-oriented and you won’t let them get to the business because you are asking questions about their weekend, personal lives, and families, they may get impatient with you. On the flip side, if you are working with a prospect who prioritizes relationships, but you fail to show interest in their weekend plans and just get straight to business, they might feel like you are sucking the fun out of the conversation.
Once you’ve observed where your customer falls in the pace and priority scope, use this table as a baseline to help you best communicate with them:
Fast-Paced & Outgoing
Methodical & Reserved
Let them do the talking, answer their questions quickly, take interest in the their personal life, let them know you’ll follow up
Give them plenty of time to answer your questions or think through concepts, be patient, take interest in their personal life
Get to the point quickly, don’t spend too much time with chit-chat, answer questions quickly, give them action items
Begin meetings with a firm agenda, give them plenty of time to answer questions or think through concepts
The most important thing Meridith tells us to remember is that it isn’t all about you. Understanding pace and priority improves how we can connect with others. Remember the next time you’re talking with a prospect, customer or colleague, it doesn’t matter what your pace and priority are, but it is crucial to identify what is important to them and communicate accordingly to get the biggest bang for your buck on all meetings.
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