When it comes to effective selling, one simple fact never changes: Selling is a relationship business. You already know all about your company’s products and services – and you’ve learned the fundamental aspects of the sales cycle.

But have you ever asked yourself … What helps one salesperson develop immediate rapport with prospects, and not others? What is he or she doing that is leading to long-term client relationships? How can I learn to do the same thing?

Research shows that prospects are more likely to buy when they unconsciously trust, and feel at ease with, the salesperson. They are more willing to open up and provide information critical to closing the sale. It appears that they are almost “helping” you make the sale, as opposed to fighting you in the process.

So how do you build this rapport?


The first key is to recognize that different behavioral styles do exist among prospects. You’ve probably seen from your own experience how one sales approach worked great with one person, yet you got a very different reaction from someone else.

Behavioral styles impact:

    1. How a prospect wants you to sell to them.

    2. How a prospect wants you to present information.

    3. How much information you present.

    4. How a prospect makes buying decisions.

The same approach won’t work with everyone. As you learn to adapt your approach to make the customer feel more at ease, the relationship will improve and more sales will eventually result.

You can identify an individual’s behavioral style preference by using the Personal Profile System® developed by Carlson Learning Company. It classifies behavior into four styles: “D”, “I”, “S”, and “C”.



Your ID, please? “Dominant,” or “D” behavioral-style individuals, are usually results-oriented. They thrive on the challenge of solving problems and making quick buying decisions. These individuals are fast-paced and like to be in charge. They can become impatient with people or situations that hinder them from accomplishing their goals. This is one of the reasons why they’re more task-oriented than people-oriented.

You can recognize these individuals as being fast-paced and direct when speaking – they’re more interested in telling you information than in asking your opinion. They tend to think in terms of the bottom line. These individuals may6 have more formal, “can’t read” facial expressions than other styles.

Sign here, please. When selling to the “D” style, don’t bog them down with excessive socializing or details – get to the point quickly. Directly focus on how your product or service can help them achieve their goals. Emphasize the results you can help them obtain, while always letting them feel they’re in charge. In other words, don’t waste their time. Make your sales presentation direct and meaningful toward helping them achieve their objectives.


Your ID, please? “Influence,” or “I” behavioral-style individuals are frequently thought of as “people persons.” They’re enthusiastic and upbeat – enjoying the interaction with others in a humorous, lighthearted way. These individuals can appear to be the eternal optimists, usually seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, and can be quite persuasive about things they’re passionate about.

You can identify them as being outgoing and direct, very talkative and interactive. These people tend to speak quickly, use animated expressions, and express their feelings freely. They can appear to be casual and friendly in their interactions with others and love to express themselves in a jovial, humorous way. Sometimes you’ll notice trinkets or fun gadgets in their office – it’s their way of adding levity to the work environment.

Sign here, please. When selling to the “I” style, match your pace and presentation to their energetic approach. Be friendly and sociable – let them know you like them personally. Where appropriate, take them to lunch. You need to provide testimonials and personal stories on how other people have responded to your company’s product or service. Show enthusiasm for the benefits your product or service can provide. Also, make sure you support the individuals by providing whatever detailed follow-up work is necessary; don’t ask them to do it. Make it easy for them to buy from you.


Your ID, please? The “Steadiness,” or “S” behavioral style, is also people-oriented – but at a much slower pace than the “I” style. The “S” person doesn’t like to be forced into making changes or quick decisions. They’re patient, loyal, and calm, making them excellent listeners and “peacekeepers” when conflict breaks out. Their focus is on cooperating with people.

You can identify these individuals by their reserved, indirect, but people-oriented approach to others. Their speech may appear softer, with an open posture. They will have relaxed, warm facial expressions and prefer a casual approach.

Sign here, please. When selling to the “S” style, it’s important that you listen to them. They need to feel you understand their needs. Assure the individuals that you and your organization are customer- and service-oriented. Just don’t push them into quick buying decisions. Show how you’re interested in a long-term relationship with their company, and that they can depend on you whenever necessary. The “S” style customers are more loyal to you when other vendors come knocking on their door.


Your ID, please? The “Conscientiousness,” or “C” behavioral style, is quality-focused, slow-paced, methodical, and task-oriented. They focus on the details and are primarily concerned about doing things the “right” or “correct way.” These individuals are analytical and frequently set higher standards for themselves than others.

You can recognize them as being reserved and more indirect than other styles. These people are formal, with a closed posture and “can’t read” facial expressions. They don’t like to express their feelings readily.

Sign here, please. When selling to the “C” style, make sure you have your facts straight. You’ll need to answer analytical questions, showing references where possible. These individuals don’t need you to socialize with them – they really don’t want you to. These people want you to provide detailed information in order to make a correct buying decision. Then they will thoroughly assess your information before coming to a conclusion. Be slow-paced and formal in your approach with them – don’t become overly enthusiastic or animated. Focus instead on facts, logic, and detailed analysis.


Although individuals have the ability to behave within all four styles, they tend to use one or two most often. There is no right or wrong style. Each has its own strengths and limitations. However, there are three key steps when applying the knowledge of behavioral styles to a sales situation:

    1. Understand your own behavioral style in the sales environment.

    2. Identify the prospect’s behavioral style.

    3. Adapt your approach to best fit the prospect’s behavioral style needs.


Most salespeople tend to sell to others the way they would like someone to sell to them. That’s not going to work!

“D” for Dominant


● Focus on “what”

● Provide options

● Be efficient

● Focus on results


● Assume without getting an opinion

● Over socialize

● Emphasize unnecessary details

● Waste time

“I” for Influence


● Focus on “who”

● Provide testimonials

● Be upbeat and friendly

● Handle details when possible


● Emphasize technicalities of product

● Be overly formal or reserved

● Add to client’s workload

● Leave decisions unclear

In sales it’s important to remember this rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

“S” for Steadiness


● Focus on “how”

● Assure client’s buying decision

● Provide excellent attention and service

● Patiently listen to needs


● Rush client into quick buying decisions

● Forget to regularly follow up

● Have an “I don’t care” attitude

● Be abrupt or fast

“C” for Conscientiousness


● Focus on “why”

● Use a logical approach

● Answer questions accurately

● Provide evidence of quality


● Be overly enthusiastic or social

● Be unprepared or lack product knowledge

● Appear disorganized

● Rush decision-making

Author's Bio: 

Susan Cullen is President of Quantum Learning Solutions, Inc. She is considered an expert in the use of blended learning methodologies for lasting organizational change. Susan has a Master's Degree in Organizational Development and over 18 years experience in workforce development and learning. For more information, contact 1-800-683-0681 or http://www.quantumlearn.com