Changing Your Communication Style to Fit Your Client

4 Different Communication Styles and How To Work With Them

Have you ever been in a situation where you just knew your communication wasn’t getting through? Times when you and your client are just not on the same wave length? Or when you and a co-worker are constantly at odds over how to get the job done?

There’s a simple reason: you’re trying your best to connect with someone whose communication style is totally different from yours. You may already be familiar with the communication style concept, since it forms the basis for many personality tests and sales training programs. The bottom line is this: you can hit a home run almost every time if you learn to alter your own preferred style to suit that of your client.

The names vary, according to which test or program you may be familiar with, but the theories are the same. We’ll describe each style briefly, and then give you a quick-tip communication guide you can use in working with each one. The four styles are:

  • Controller
  • Innovator
  • Thinker
  • Supporter

This type is easy to spot because they are coming on strong. They just want the facts, ma’am, and nothing but the facts. They may seem bossy and overbearing at times, but don’t take it personally. Controllers are extremely goal oriented and their major motivation is to get things done. Make an offer, get a counter offer, and let’s get this closed next week.

Here’s how to adjust your communication style when working with the Controller. Get to the point quickly. Give them the broad outline, not the details. Anticipate objections and be ready to solve problems on the spot. The good news about this style is that they will generally make decisions quickly, and won’t change their minds or have buyer’s remorse. Let them feel that they are in charge at all times and they’ll be happy.

The Innovator has an attractive personality and is often the life of the party. Their natural sociability means they can talk for long stretches of time about almost anything. They are enthusiastic, curious, and expressive. They value personal relationships, acceptance and prestige—they want to look good and want a home that expresses their personality. They are animated, gesture a lot and can be easily distracted. They focus on the big picture and get impatient if they have to deal with details, like reading a 20-page contract. They may be more concerned with how the property looks than with how much it costs.

If your client is an Innovator, here’s how you can communicate with him or her successfully. Allow plenty of time for talk and socializing. Illustrate your points with stories and personal experiences. Focus on the big picture, the creative possibilities. Be future-oriented. Think outside the box (or just throw the box away altogether).

Quite the opposite of the Controller, the Thinker wants all the details. Thinkers are technical and systematic, valuing logic and diligence. Their communication will focus on facts and details. They may take a long time to come to a decision, especially one as life-changing as buying a home. They may avoid the decision by continuing to collect facts and information. They also tend to be extremely frugal and want good value for every penny they spend.

To have a successful client relationship with a Thinker, do your homework. Provide him or her with lists, charts, graphs—they love getting everything in writing and creating well-organized files of important information. Be sure your contracts and other documents are correct—dot every i and cross every t. Never try to rush a Thinker.

The Supporter style typically has a calm, cool and collected personality. They want to avoid conflict at all costs and do not like change. The whole home-buying process can be a major stressor for a Supporter, especially if it involves a relocation that takes them away from all that’s familiar. They may tend to get emotional when trying to reach a decision. On the plus side, they tend to be patient, well balanced and generally happy with life. They are good listeners and usually have a lot of friends.

For you to communicate effectively with a Supporter, you need to spend time establishing a rapport. Share personal details and find things you have in common. Describe properties in terms of security, safety, and a peaceful home environment. Avoid being pushy or aggressive, especially when it’s time to make a decision. Be prepared for hand-holding and reassurance.

Of course the first step in using communication styles effectively is to figure out, based on our brief description, which of these style descriptions is most like you. Think about how you do business and how you relate to colleagues and friends. Then review your existing client list and see if you can spot some obvious styles among them. Think of people you’ve had difficulty communicating with in the past and see if their style might have been very different from yours.

With a little attention and practice, you’ll be able to spot style types almost as soon as you meet someone. Learn to adjust your style temporarily, and you’ll find your client relationships and business transactions going much more smoothly. And your sales results will show it.

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