4 Customer Social Styles and The Adaptive Sales Approach

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

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Customers vary with respect to their personality, communication style, behavior, thought processes and approaches to making a decision. When salespeople can understand the customer’s social style and adapt their sales approach accordingly, they can increase their chances of a successful sales outcome.

There are four customer social styles composed of specific traits [1]. Below is information about how salespeople can adapt their sales approach to each style.

1. The analytical

These individuals are precise, business-like, rational, self-controlled and serious; they are motivated by details and facts; they are excellent problem solvers and like rigid timetables; they tend to be reserved in their interactions with people; they tend to disregard personal opinions when making decisions.

How to adapt to analytical customers

Respect and support their principles, way of thinking and approach; don’t challenge their knowledge of the product or point of view; be systematic, exact and logical; communicate the pros and cons; provide facts, history, data and financial details in a structured and organized format; demonstrate results; use guarantees or warrantees to reduce perceived risks.

2. The driver

They make decisions quickly and have a need to achieve; they are assertive, decisive, controlling, smart, stubborn, determined, focused, impatient and independent; they are task oriented and want relevant information in order to make decisions quickly; they are efficient and effective; they may not care about personal relationships, except as a means to their goal.

How to adapt to customers who are drivers

Be professional and efficient; identify their objectives and support and assist them if possible; don’t waste time with small talk; be efficient and to the point; establish rapport quickly; use facts and logic; focus on results; provide options so that the customer feels they are in control; use a timeline for expected results.

3. The amiable

They are respectful, willing, agreeable, friendly, supportive, soft-hearted and responsive; they are team players who focus on innovation and long-term problem solving; they value relationships; they engage with people they feel they can trust.

How to adapt to amiable customers

Establish a personal relationship, discuss personal issues (interests, family, etc.); collaborate with the customer; openly discuss the issues in a conversational format; use personal commitments and specific guarantees; be agreeable; demonstrate low risk solutions; don’t take advantage of them.

4. The expressive

They are intuitive, charismatic, assertive, responsive, enthusiastic, creative, nurturing and engaging; they have strong persuasive skills, are talkative and gregarious; they can see the big picture clearly; they build relationships to gain power; status and recognition are important to them.

How to adapt to customers who are expressive

Focus on relationships and facts; take the extra time to discuss all aspects of the product and company; be energetic; summarize main points; include short, concise stories; give them recognition and approval; appeal to their emotions by asking them how they feel about the product or service; focus on the big picture.

In any sales situation, a call center agent should quickly and accurately determine what social style the customer is displaying and adapt their approach accordingly.

Adaptive selling can have an enormous impact on the relationship with the customer as well as their impression of the agent, product and company. It results in more revenue, more positive brand awareness and a more favorable company image. Adaptive selling is therefore crucial for any company’s success.


[1] Merrill, D.W. & Reid, R.H. 1991. Personal Styles and Effective Performance . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press LLC.

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Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.