On the face of it, the strongest solution should always win the new business, regardless of how much the client likes you. However, it’s commonly accepted that personality factors can influence decisions in awarding new business. So to what degree does this happen – if you have the strongest solution, is that enough to get you over the line? Or are decision-makers swayed by how much they like the person behind the solution?
The Importance of a Strong Solution
Let’s face it – even your staunchest supporters will find it hard to support you if you have a weak solution, especially in a highly competitive situation. Generally speaking though, your solution is likely to be fairly similar to that of your competitors. Therefore, the difference between winning and losing the business may be the relationship you have with the decision-makers, and even whether they like you as a person. Regardless, it’s vitally important to always have a strong solution as your foundation.
A Systematic Approach for both the Solution and Personal Relationships
Essentially, the systematic approach to winning new business tells us that we need to focus not only on the quality of our proposal, but also the relationships we have with the key decision-makers. To focus solely on the solution leaves us vulnerable to a competitor who has a stronger relationship with the client. After all, there are countless examples in the business world of the best solution not winning a pitch. On the other hand, relying solely on your relationship with the decision-maker is equally risky. That’s why we need to work on both sides of the equation.
Adapting to and Interacting with Different Personality Styles
How others feel about you is predominately determined by how you interact with them. Often there isn’t much you can do about individual characteristics such as gender, race or age, but there is a great deal you can do about controlling the way you interact with others. One of the critical skills we develop in our programs is the ability to read and adapt to the interaction style of the other person. To become well versed at this, you need a framework to understand certain personality traits, which then helps guide your natural interaction style to suit every type of client.
The DISC Framework for Understanding Human Behavior
Although better known for his work with lie detectors, William Moulton Marston also published The Emotions of Normal People in 1928, where he described four behaviour patterns which form the basis of the DISC framework:
In its modern adaptation, the DISC framework is very useful in understanding human behaviour and interaction preferences. As shown in the table below, there are two axes for the framework. The first is whether a person is task or people-focused, and the second is whether they make decisions quickly or slowly. These axes allow us to classify individuals into one of four dominant style preferences, although in most cases, there is a blend of all four styles to some degree.
- When dealing with the High D – High D people are looking for fast results and are generally not concerned about other people’s feelings. This means you need to get down to business quickly and show them the bottom line. Earning their respect is critical, which is sometimes achieved by standing up to them.
- When dealing with the High I – High I people value relationships and enjoy dealing with people they like, so spend time getting to know them. As with High D people, they can be impatient but are more likely to be led by their feelings for someone. The High I person most commonly presents as a likeable extrovert.
- When dealing with the High S – High S people are recognised by their careful, yet warm approach to relationships. They can be slow to make decisions but they greatly value relationships. Trust is extremely important to a High S person, so be careful not to lose it or you may never get it back again!
- When dealing with the High C – Finally, High C people tend to be very analytical and often introverted i.e. they place great importance on facts and analysis rather than feelings. Most importantly, the High C person has to believe you rather than necessarily like or respect you, so it’s critical that you’re genuine in your dealings with them.
It’s All about the Client
The overall message in this article is to think about your relationships and how you interact with key decision-makers. Treat them how they like to be treated, not how you think they should be treated. The more dominant our own personal style, the more likely we are to ignore the different style of the decision-maker, so be cautious. After all, if you connect with them on a personal level, your chances of winning the business will increase.