Push me, pull me - the persuasive power of the MBTI process

Posted 13 May 2015 by
Penny Moyle - CEO at OPP and Lorraine Mills - Head of Consultancy at OPP

Whether or not you are a sales professional, and even if you don’t see selling as part of your job, there are times when everyone needs to influence or persuade. OPP recently worked with a regional sales team in a financial services organisation to help them become more successful. The same techniques we applied there can easily be adapted to create more persuasive communication for anyone – not just sales people.

The sales team initially took a forceful approach to selling, confident in their knowledge of the products they were offering and their effectiveness. It was less comfortable for them to slow down, listen and focus on the client’s needs – they tended to adopt a ‘push’ style, shifting very quickly to plugging their products before the client could get a word in edgeways! The danger of this ‘push’ sales style is lack of rapport – even if the customer makes a purchase, this approach rarely builds longer-term customer relationships and can damage customer loyalty.

How often have you seen the same kind of issue going on in your workplace? Where a colleague is SO convinced they have the ‘right’ answer that they fail to get sufficient buy-in to their ideas, and are successful only at creating opposition to their solutions (even good ones!)

Text box 1 for type and selling postType theory provides a simple framework within which to understand your own instinctive approach to sales and communication. The practical focus can also help you develop rapport by anticipating where your audience is coming from (often this is not from the same place as you!). You can learn to adapt and ‘speak their language’, maximising the chances of getting them on your side.

Self-awareness is the starting point, as you first need to understand your own preferences and see how these fit into the type framework (i.e. how are you similar to or different from other people). Armed with this knowledge, Type becomes a mirror onto the customer, helping you identify behavioural clues as to what is catching their attention, what kind of information is appealing and how they are likely to make decisions.

The MBTI®-based approach really comes into its own when things are not shaping up well, and you realise that you are at risk of losing or off-siding your audience. In such situations, it’s all too tempting to ‘turn up the volume’ on your usual approach, but in fact you’re likely to be more effective if you try some alternative approaches to get things back on a positive footing. Recognising and adapting to the fact that we are all different can help prevent frustration and increase your ability to influence. By understanding your own preferences, you can control your instinctive reactions, and come to understand the audience’s point of view without prejudice. You may even begin to see problems coming, and avert them before they become a major issue.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is all about being manipulative or inauthentic. It’s simply a case of knowing yourself better and understanding others more.

Text box 2 for type and selling postAdding an understanding of personality and individual communication preferences brings an extra dimension to your communication style, giving you greater impact and influence. In one-to-one and group sessions, there is a lot of information available to you about the reactions of your audience. Even when communicating without the luxury of ‘in-the-moment’ feedback, such as when crafting an online sales campaign, MBTI-based insights can help you create a rounded message that covers all the bases to appeal to the full range of personalities out there.

Becoming an expert in personality-based communication frameworks takes a little time. However, the basics are very easy to grasp. The sales team I mentioned earlier were able to adopt new techniques, and gain a new appreciation of the impact of adapting their style. As a result they found a significant increase in their ability to open up client opportunities. Creating a desire or ‘pull’ from the client is a whole different experience to pushing your solution on others. So, if it’s going to make you more successful, why not give it a go?

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