Chameleon: Any of a family of chiefly arboreal Old-World lizards with a prehensile tail, independently movable eyeballs, and unusual ability to change the color of the skin. ~ Merriam-Webster
An amazing reptile, however, in popular parlance chameleons are deemed to be fickle or inconsistent – generally undesirable attributes. Some believe that changing your approach, or being a chameleon, is akin to dishonesty or not presenting your true self.
But let’s look at this from another perspective. When it comes to sales, being a chameleon is essential to the relationship you are either building or have built with your (potential) customers. The handshake is a great example: Some people don’t shake hands; some very firmly; others are quite delicate. If you offer a firm handshake to someone with a delicate approach, they may feel you’re trying to crush their hand and you’ll likely see it on their face. It is important for you, as a professional salesperson, to allow the other individual to take the lead.
Do you believe that everyone you meet has the same personality, social style, sense of humour, or opinions? Of course not! For simplicity’s sake consider these four styles: *
Drivers: they want answers quickly; they tell more than ask
Influencers: like to talk about the big picture; are bored by details
Critical Thinkers: need the details and to be right; expect you to have the answers
Supporters: try to understand the feelings of others ahead of the facts
You need to be aware of the personality of the individual with whom you’re interacting. Adapt your style to suit it and allow yourself to be open, in order to see what’s in front of you. Watch their non-verbal cues – body language, eye contact, and tone of voice. It matters, because if you’re meeting with an Influencer and you’re giving lots of little details, you’ll probably lose them.
When you start your dialogue, ask questions. Then be quiet and let them talk: Listen to understand rather than listening to respond. This is the key.
When you let the prospect talk and tell their story, you are learning about their needs. It is, after all, more about what they need than what you’re selling. If you don’t understand their needs, how can you provide a meaningful solution? Otherwise, your (potential) customer may feel you’re not listening, that you don’t “get them” or understand their needs. Any trust you have built up may be eroded. Even worse, you may lose the opportunity to provide the right fit in service or product to your customer.
Here’s to being your best self, an adaptable, confident chameleon.
*Wayne Vanwyck, Pure Selling