Is your client a lion, otter, golden retriever or beaver? Here is a quick and easy way to identify which personality your prospective client has so you can adapt your presentation style to win the day.

Talking with a new agent recently, she described what she referred to as “the listing appointment from hell.” The agent, a soft-spoken, deliberate person, had spent hours preparing for the interview. Armed with a tablet presentation and pages of data and comparable listings, she showed up at the listing appointment prepared for an hour-long interview.

“It was over in 15 minutes,” she said. “The seller wasn’t interested in chitchat or my comprehensive data. He cut to the chase, told me what the list price was going to be, asked me how I was going to get it for him, stated the commission he was willing to pay and then stood up and escorted me to the door.”

“Congratulations,” I stated. “You have survived your first listing presentation with a lion.”

It’s no secret that people love being communicated with in the manner that most closely resembles their personality. Anyone who has had a significant level of coaching for either listing appointments or buyer presentations has gone through some type of personality testing to not only discover their own dominant personality, but to quickly and effectively identify the personality types of those with whom they meet.

The key to successful communication in any client relationship is to understand the personality of the person you are meeting with and correspond with them in the manner that resonates most closely with their personality.

One of the most common personality assessment tools is the DiSC test. First conceived by William Moulton Marston in 1928, the DiSC assessment has been fine-tuned over the years and has become a foundational tool in the real estate industry to help assess potential agents and team members. It divides personalities into four basic groups:

  • Dominance: A person primarily in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on accomplishing results and “seeing the big picture.” They are confident, sometimes blunt, outspoken and demanding.
  • Influence: A person in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on influencing or persuading others. They tend to be enthusiastic, optimistic, open, trusting and energetic.
  • Steadiness: A person in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, loyalty and dependability. They tend to have calm, deliberate dispositions, they and do not like to be rushed.
  • Conscientiousness: A person in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise and competency. They enjoy their independence, demand the details and often fear being wrong.

Used in conjunction with other tests such as The Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment, it is possible to get an accurate picture of an individual’s personality and relational style.

These tests make it fairly easy to get an accurate picture of who you are and how you relate to the world around you. While it’s important to understand your own personality, it’s critical to be able to effectively determine the personality type of anyone you are meeting with to be able to engage effectively.

Agents who go into appointments and lead with their own personality type will only succeed if that type matches the person they are engaging. The true skill is assessing who you are meeting with and engaging them with their personality.

While the DiSC assessment is very helpful, I have personally discovered it can be a bit tricky to remember when I’m sitting across from a prospective client. For this reason, I prefer using the personality types from the Smalley-Trent assessment.

It categorizes the same four personalities found in the DiSC profiles but couples them with animal names to make them easier to identify. It also includes a list of weaknesses found in each type.

D is a lion

  • Strengths: Visionary, practical, productive, strong-willed, independent, decisive and a leader.
  • Weaknesses: Cold, domineering, unemotional, self-sufficient, unforgiving, sarcastic and cruel.

i is an otter

  • Strengths: Outgoing, responsive, warm, friendly, talkative, enthusiastic and compassionate.
  • Weaknesses: Undisciplined, unproductive, exaggerates, egocentric and unstable.

S is a golden retriever

  • Strengths: Calm, easy-going, dependable, quiet, objective, diplomatic and humorous.
  • Weaknesses: Selfish, stingy, procrastinator, unmotivated, indecisive, fearful and worrier.

C is a beaver

  • Strengths: Analytical, self-disciplined, industrious, organized, aesthetic and sacrificing.
  • Weaknesses: Moody, self-centered, touchy, negative, unsociable, critical and revengeful.

These characteristics not only make it easy to quickly figure out who you are meeting with, it is also very helpful in guiding you in responding appropriately. By understanding the negative aspect of each personality, it is possible to avoid behaviors that will alienate them.

When dealing with a lion

Lions lead. They are typically the bosses in the work environment and are used to taking charge. They are decisive, bottom-line oriented individuals who observe instead of watching or listening. They are natural problem-solvers and typically seek new adventures and opportunities.

Remember that the negatives include impatient, blunt, poor listener, impulsive, demanding, may view projects more important than people, can be insensitive to the feelings of others, may “run over” others who are slower to act or speak and are quickly bored by routine or mechanics.

Be prepared to state facts quickly, avoid idle chatter, summarize key details in bullet form, and then be prepared to answer questions quickly and effectively.

When dealing with an otter

Otters excite. They love to talk, are great at motivating others and are awesome networkers who know a lot of people. They tend towards loving and encouraging and have an innate desire to be the focus of attention. They can be attentive to personal appearance and can even be flashy. They have often been categorized as a party waiting for a place to happen.

Remember that the negatives include a desire to chatter endlessly, ignore details, be disorganized, impulsive, feelings oriented, reactive and excitable.

Be prepared to listen at length, engage in the relationship, gently refocus to the issues at hand and spend a long time in the meeting. Complements go a long way to building the relationship.

When dealing with a golden retriever

Golden retrievers empathize. They are very patient, easy going, empathetic persons who are awesome team players. They are compassionate, loyal and put people above projects. In addition, they are stable, agreeable and highly supportive.

Remember that the negatives include indecisiveness and a slowness to initiate. They fear change and may sacrifice results for the sake of relationships. They avoid confrontation and, if hurt, can carry grudges.

Be prepared to focus on them as individuals and work on building a relationship. They will need assurance that even though things are going to change, everything will be OK. Assure them that they can trust you with the process, that you will go at their pace, will hold their hand every step of the way and will make sure they will not be harmed on the process.

When dealing with a beaver

Beavers Analyze. They are slow paced, task-oriented and want to do things by the book. They insist on quality, accuracy and will often show up with spreadsheets. They usually communicate clearly, will focus on details and tend to be diplomatic.

Remember that the negatives include hyper-focusing on minute details at the loss of the big picture. They tend to be overly cautious, avoid risk, can be critical of others and the process, are picky, can get frustrated when they see disorganization, will make decisions very slowly and not decide on anything until they feel they have all the facts.

Be prepared to focus on the data. They will need extensive information, comprehensive lists of tasks you will perform and detailed flow charts outlining every step of the process. They will often put minute details over deadlines and can be difficult to keep on track when timelines are critical. They will need clearly defined tasks, stability, assurance that the risks are low and proof that extensive planning is in place.

Although people can usually be placed in one of these four categories, they also have a subcategory whose characteristics will show up as well. As an example, I score high as a D (Lion) but my second highest score is C (Beaver). My team members often joke that I’m a lion with a beaver tail.

They key is to be alert and learn to read people as you meet with them. Those who can quickly assess the key characteristics of prospective clients and adapt their presentation style to match will be the ones who will be most likely to win the day.

As for the new agent who tangled with the lion? She was a golden retriever whose feelings were initially trampled until I explained what had happened. She did not win that listing (it went to another agent who read “lion” and responded accordingly), but learned how to adapt and is now doing great.

Lion, otter, golden retriever or beaver? It is a simple way to recognize who you are dealing with and an effective way of mirroring back to enhance your chances of successfully engaging and turning prospects into clients.

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.

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