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From The MRA Newsletter
Do Unto Others
(Or Not)

By John Loven, MRA
Use your knowledge of the four MRA Profile Groups to sell to others the way they want to be sold to. Consider the sales proposal that contains way too much - or way too little - detail for the prospective customer. You presumably included just the right amount of detail for you. What to do?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's the Golden Rule; it's the heart of the best business ethics; it's timeless. And, followed unthinkingly, it can cause no end of problems when you attempt to sell things, including your own business.

You want to offer a good product at a good price, because you'd want the same thing yourself. But if you present the sales proposition the way you'd want it presented, you can put off a buyer. A classic example is the sales proposal that contains way too much - or way too little - detail for the prospective customer. You presumably put in just the right amount of detail for you. What to do?

Start by recognizing four broad-brush descriptions of behavior that characterize most people in their business life. In MRA we call them Profile Groups I, II, III and IV. When I'm teaching people who are not MRA-Trained to use Profile Groups in the sales process, I give the groups nicknames. These nicknames capture what might be the focal issue in selling to them using Profile Groups for leverage:

MRA Group I & V - The Head Coaches: These individuals are aggressive, dominant and enjoy being in charge. They are goal driven, like to lead and manage others. They work in broad strokes and are decisive, usually trusting their own judgment. These folks are often managers or business owners. As sales people, this group generally succeeds at hard-selling and fast-closing sales.

MRA Group II - The Greeters: Greeters are very friendly, enthusiastic and outgoing. They like to interact with others and often focus on meeting the needs of others. Even when inwardly worried, they will usually maintain a cheerful and sociable demeanor. The approval of others is a strong motivator. Here's where the champions of consultative sales often live.

MRA Group III - The Engineers: Reflective and logical, these individuals are also aggressive and assertive. This is the realm of the computer scientist, engineer, surgeon, or professor. When they succeed in a job with "sales" in the job description, it is usually info-selling: making a deliberate case based on strong reasoning, data and analysis.

MRA Group IV - The Guardians: This group is at their best in highly organized situations that require an accurate, methodical and consistent approach. Conservative and disciplined, they calculate their risks and work toward objectives in a consistent, sociable and undemonstrative manner. Nurses, financial planners, corporate lawyers, and professional counselors are Guardians. They rarely choose jobs with a sales component, since sales implies competition and overcoming the buyer's objections. That generally lies outside the Guardian's comfort zone.

If you can place a sales prospect clearly into one of these groups, you can make some valuable decisions about constructing and delivering a sales pitch. You can often identify the correct behavioral group by meeting the prospect, talking to the prospect's colleagues or just observing their business activity. At MRA, we call it "snapshotting." Sales forces in major corporations, including pharmaceuticals and retirement communities, use this method. Perhaps you should consider making snap-shotting a formal part of your sales process.

Here are some of the basic considerations for using profile groups to pitch prospects most effectively:

The Head Coaches want a broad-strokes proposal and will be inclined to make a quick decision. They need to see, clearly and quickly, that accepting your proposal will make them a winner. If it's a highly complicated sale that requires detailed financial or technical information, they will generally refer that information to others for review. They will only rarely check on references. They like social interaction, but will limit the time available for schmoozing.

The Greeters consider social interaction very important. Face-time sells. Consultative selling, with time spent talking about people issues is key. They want appropriate detail in modest quantities, but a positive personal relationship with the seller and a sense that buying will serve their group will carry the day. They may check references, but a sense of trust, affiliation or "membership" with the vendor will be most important.

The Engineers will want detailed information in quantity. They will be impressed by how well thought-out, how rational, the proposal is, and they will want time to mull over the proposal. Face-time with the seller is not a major need, but any sense that they are being rushed, or that generalities are obscuring important facts will be a deal-breaker. They will want to buy if shown that buying will underscore their individual skill and importance because it's a superior deal. They may well check every reference.

The Guardians, like the Engineers, will want detailed information and lots of time to decide. They will, however, be more interested in a consultative relationship and will buy when they feel that they are doing the best - most prudent - thing for their team or the company. Like Engineers, they will probably delve deeply into any references you provide.

And what about you? Do you fall into one of the four groups? If so, you know something about your natural tendencies. If you are selling to someone much like yourself, you can proceed intuitively. That's why, for example, engineers in highly technical fields are recruited to sell to other engineers. But if you are selling to someone quite different, you'll know what kind of adjustments and accommodations to make in your presentation.

How can you hone the skills needed to quickly recognize which group a new acquaintance may be part of? Getting profiled yourself and taking some training in the method will quickly sharpen your eye for the behavioral cues that provide a guide to the sales person. You can join the many sales organizations make profile groups an integral part of their sales training.

The bottom line: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but sell to others as they want to be sold to.

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