Friday, November 18, 2005

Personality Traits of B2B Decision Makers

When we want to get inside our prospective and current customers' heads, we can be on the lookout for five traits that help build context.

The following article, entitled "Square Holes for Square Pegs," written by Professor Adrian Furnham, looks at the "Big Five" Model of Personality and makes sound arguments for personality assessment, or success profiling. Consider how you can unearth these traits based on their responses to questionnaires, click path content selections or sales interviews ... and you will be a lot closer to moving that prospect toward a sale.

The Big Five Model of Personality:

According to the "Big Five" model of personality, the most important dimensions of people's personality in the workplace are:

1. Introversion/Extraversion
2. Agreeableness
3. Openness
4. Natural Reactions
5. Conscientiousness

Introversion/Extraversion:
Some people are talkative, sociable, and socially self-confident.

They like other people and tend to be socio-centers. They are comfortable in groups and teams and enjoy intensive and extensive people contact. Others are quiet, retiring, and apparently shy. They prefer to work alone and have a much lower need for social contact of all kinds. This, of course, is introversion-extraversion.The salient question here is about social contact at work: with colleagues and total strangers (i.e. customers). People can be excited, enlivened and energized by social contact, or frightened and exhausted by it.

Agreeableness:

Next, some people tend to be sunny, cheerful, warm and empathic while others are dour, unsympathetic, and grumpy. This is about being hard or softhearted. It's about sensitivity to and interest in the feelings of others. This dimension is called agreeableness. However agreeableness can be a handicap when agreeable managers have to deal with recalcitrant, difficult and disagreeable staff. Their natural warmth and kindness may prevent them from ''kickin' ass'' as frequently as they should.

Openness:

Third, some people are curious, imaginative and artistic, while others are practical and focused. This dimension is called openness to experience. The more open people are, the more prone to boredom they are. They think outside the box too much.

Natural Reactions:

Some people are calm, contented and placid. They are stable under fire, resilient and emotionally robust. Others are easily upset, tense, anxious, moody and highly-strung. It is, in short, the ability to handle pressure and stress. We call this Natural Reactions. Most jobs have some sources of stress. Tight deadlines. Disgruntled customers. Competing demands. Indolent staff. Tough performance standards. At the extreme, people who can't handle stress cave-in with psychosomatic illness, depression or erratic behavior. They can be a menace to themselves, their colleagues and the business.

Conscientiousness:

And finally, there is conscientiousness, the work ethic, diligence, and prudence. Some people are hard working, self-disciplined and well organized. Others are (alas) disorganized, easily distracted and undependable. Conscientious people have self-discipline, drive and a sense of direction. They stay on and come in when required over and above what it says in their contract. They just need a direction and an appropriate reward.

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