Using Type in Selling — Part 2

© Copyright 2006 Pamela Hollister
Please ask permission to reproduce this article.

How does type actually work in the selling process?

There are stages in the process of moving a sale forward. Time is spent “Initiating the rapport.” This consists of greeting the customer and establishing a basis for moving ahead. Next the salesperson “investigates needs.” This is when listening is especially important. Next, a “course of action” may be suggested using the information gathered in the listening stage. And, the final stage is reaching an agreement on the next action, or “closing” the sale. You can see all aspects of the type preferences coming forth throughout the sales interaction. Specific aspects of type, however, stand out as more important than others at various stages.

Nonverbal behavior cues such as pacing, timing, body position, and movement are associated with the ENERGY-Extraversion-Introversion preference. Customers can use these cues to decide quickly as to whether or not they will be comfortable in dealing with that person. For this reason, the Extraversion-Introversion preference is important during the beginning stage of “initiating.”

The INFORMATION gathering phase—Sensing and Intuition—and the DECISION phase—Thinking and Feeling—intersect during the “investigating needs” stage and “suggesting a course of action.” A customer that is making a decision to purchase is definitely involved in taking in information and using that information to make a decision. Various types prefer to gather data and make decisions in different and predictable ways. It is not unusual that the functional pairs—ST, SF, NF, NT—have the greatest impact in this part of the sales process.

The ACTION stage—Judging and Perceiving preference, of course, has the greatest effect on closing the sale. This can become more apparent as the selling relationship is focused on obtaining agreement and closing.

The two middle letters—the functional pairs—express how customers function during sales interactions. The following table summarizes the focus of each customer type, what they value, and what to remember when dealing with them.

Customer Type Modes

The ST Customer

The SF Customer

The NF Customer

The NT Customer

Focuses on
• The specifics
• The logical implication of
  these specifics

Focuses on
• The specifics
• The impact of these
  specifics on people

Focuses on
• The general concept or
  big picture (not specifics)
• How the big picture
  impacts people or sup-
  ports their values

Focuses on
• The general concept or
  big picture (not specifics)
• How the big picture pos-
  sibilities create logical

• Acting responsibly
• Working with a sales-
  person who acts

• Personal loyalty
• Working with a sales-
  person who personalizes
  & individualizes service

• Making a difference (in the
  community, for the family,
  in the world)
• Working with a sales-
  person who helps to make
  his or her vision become
  a reality

• Having options that fit his
  or her needs now and in
  the future
• Working with a sales-
  person who demonstrates

• state the FACTS


• support the customer's

• provide and support

Adapted from FLEX Selling by Susan Brock

Practice presenting your product/service from each of the four basic positions so you can shift when necessary. In an actual sales situation, watch your customer’s nonverbal cues such as:

  • Changing facial expression
  • Movement away from you
  • Appearance of detachment
  • Irritation in her or his voice

These cues signal a need to listen more carefully and possibly choose a different approach. A good rule or standard is that unless the information is coming across to the customer in his or her “language,” probably the customer will miss at least part of your message and will feel less comfortable about the interaction.

Finally, be aware that using type in selling is a discipline and takes practice. As you begin using the type framework, you will have immediate payoff in terms of more understanding and control in the selling situation. As you continue to work with it, you gain fluidity, ease, and an even greater appreciation of your customers, their needs, and their diversity.

Pamela Hollister
Author, The PEOPLE Process
August 22, 2006
(Information gathered from Using Type in Selling, Susan Brock, CPP, Inc.)