Get personal: How ‘style matching’ can build trust, rapport and sales

When you consider that, in life, we tend to naturally gravitate towards other people who share the same personality styles as us it makes perfect sense to, in sales, understand our own style, and the style of our customers.

By identifying and understanding the personality styles of those we sell to, we can effectively ‘mirror’ to build strong relationships, rapport and trust on a whole new level.

So, let’s start with you. Which style are you?

During your career you will most likely change between four styles (identified by David Merrill and Roger Reid in Personal Styles and Effective Performance) regularly, as well as have a default style that you always return to.

Think about which style you tend to adopt, and what it is about your selling strategy that reflects that style. The four main personality styles can be neatly summed up in a quadrant:

  • Driver (top left): This personality style lends the impression that they know what they want, where they are going, and how to get there quickly.  As an extreme memory hook, think of Alan Sugar.
  • Expressive (top right): Appear communicative, warm, approachable and competitive.  Think of Richard Branson.
  • Amiable: (bottom right) Place a high priority on friendships, close relationships, and cooperative behaviour.  Think of David Cameron.
  • Analytical: (bottom left) Live life according to facts, principles, logic and consistency. Appear to be cooperative in their actions as long as they can have some freedom to organise their own efforts.  Think Bill Gates.


While understanding and embracing your own default style can help your sales performance, it can be even more useful to understand the way your clients operate. And, before you reach for the psychology text books, there are some useful patterns that can help you.

Engineers tend to be analytical; CEOs tend to be drivers; Creative teams tend to be expressive; Educators tend to be amiable.  Often, people make their styles and motivations very clear – you just need to know or understand what you’re looking for.

And, once you have managed to identify their style you can adapt, create rapport and be, sometimes instantly, more likeable.

As humans we tend to buy from people who are most like us. If you can adapt language, tone, speed, and way of selling to become in line with that of your prospect, they will appreciate that.


Here’s a great example:

I carried out some training work with a sales team at a large software company. Their product’s main USP had shifted from being purely beneficial on an operational level (ie, it made the life of the worker easier) to a company-wide cost-saving piece of kit that required buy-in from the top. Whereas once this sales team was happy attacking small departmental budgets, they suddenly had something to target CEOs with and the prize was so much bigger. But, approaching CEOs with an organisational cost-saving strategy was proving difficult. The personality style of the CEO (Driver) tends to be different to that of the line manager.

I helped the guys to understand their style, and the style of others.  Understanding style is important, CEOs are always busy and appreciate that the sales team reflected this in their approach. The conversation moved from:

“Hi John, how are you today? I saw an article in the newspaper today that I think you’d find interesting because I see on your Linkedin profile that you used to work at…”


“John, I know you’re very busy so I’ll be brief. I’ve just sent you an email detailing the four ways our upgraded XYZ software can deliver 40% cost savings across the entire business at ABC. I’ll call back Tuesday to discuss.”

The point is, your style can be modified and enhanced. While on the one hand being natural is key (NEVER lose your natural edge) it is also important to acknowledge that you can adapt it. By doing so you’ll have a better success rate at:

–          Building rapport

–          Speeding up the sales cycle – Read more here

Be subtle in the differences you weave into your own style when mirroring, because just by incorporating certain vocabulary can mean a world of difference in selling.

How do you plan to adapt your style to suit your customers in 2013? Could you even categorise your customers into a style? Do you know your own style?

The answers to these questions are imperative to selling success this year, so take the following steps to build up your strategy:

  1. Arm yourself with our sales training book. We have our new book, The Natural Sales Evolution in stock with Amazon!  Go online, order your copy, you will have it in a day or two, just CLICK HERE.
  2. Call the Natural Training team on 0207 043 1582 or email to find out how our training will help you and your team to deliver exceptional results in 2013.


Natural Training provides best practice sales techniques and advice to blue chip companies worldwide. We’d love to talk with you about how to develop and adapt your selling styles to boost profit and revenue.

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