Who Are You Trying to Influence? Their Personality Types May Impact Your Effectiveness!

By Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

There’s a certain feeling one gets when having a light bulb moment – a great idea that is so brilliant it absolutely must be acted upon. Similarly, a polished business strategy or project plan that is the result of hours and hours of consideration and mental exertion can be like a child one has groomed for success. But when that idea or plan gets shot down because it’s too risky or too expensive, or because your managers, customers or business partners simply don’t get it, it’s certainly a bubble-bursting moment.

Just as a great product or service is useless if it can’t be sold to the marketplace, a great idea is useless if it can’t be sold to the right stakeholders. What works for one executive won’t necessarily work for another; different leaders have different motivations, fears and triggers. Identifying those cues really requires knowing what type of executive you’re dealing with.

In their Harvard Business Review article “Change the Way You Persuade,” Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller argue that “people can vastly improve their chances of having their proposals succeed by determining who the chief decision maker is among the executives they are trying to persuade and then tailoring their arguments to that business leader’s decision-making style.”

Williams and Miller distinguish five decision-making categories:

  • Charismatics – Easily enthralled by new ideas
  • Thinkers – Cerebral, logical and academic
  • Skeptics – Highly suspicious of every single data point, especially any information that challenges their worldview
  • Followers – Make decisions based on how they’ve made similar choices in the past or how other trusted executives have made them
  • Controllers – Abhor uncertainty and ambiguity, and will focus on the pure facts and analytics of an argument

According to the article, “managers should tailor their presentations to the executives they are trying to persuade, using the right buzzwords to deliver the appropriate information in the most effective sequence and format.”

Understanding who you are pitching to is the first step in selling your proposal. Over the next few blog posts, we’ll look more closely at each of the five decision-making types described by Williams and Miller and discuss their recommended strategy for dealing with each.

(This contributed post is the first in a series from our colleague, Justin Grensing. Over the next several weeks we’ll be publishing his posts on each of these decision-making types and how you can most effectively influence them. If you are interested in contributing a post to our blog, please let us know.)

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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