Can you really understand what is going on in the mind of your customer? That is the bottom-line question you have to ask if you dare to believe that you can use the MBTI-assessment as a research tool.

To be honest, a lot of people discount the Myers-Brigg assessment. The personality profile will indicate them as having one trait, but they feel that it is wrong. For example, the test may indicate “introvert,” and yet they have an occupation that puts them in front of a lot of people all the time (an extrovert). Certainly, the test can’t be right, can it?

The problem isn’t with the test, but in other factors acting outside of the person. I like to call these: “environmental factors.” These play a huge role in the habits we form (such as buying habits), how we behave, and most importantly, how we appear to others.

Let me try to simplify this, so that it makes sense.

Sometimes your up, sometimes your downWhen people take the test, and it come back with a personality trait, such as introvert or extrovert, they think it is a yes/no or black/white type answer. It’s not. It is more like a teeter-totter that has a pivot point. You have both characteristics in your personality, and you can be both introvert, and extrovert. But at any one time, one end is usually higher or stronger than the other. And that end can be up really high, or just a little bit. At another time in your day, the other end may be in the up position. But you have a preferred position for the teeter-tooter which it will gravitate toward if those environmental factors were removed.

In the MBTI personality assessment, there are four different pairs of traits that are tested, so there are four teeter-totters going at the same time. Obviously, that gives you an infinite combination of personality moods.

Instead of thinking of the personality profile as four distinct teeter-totters in motion, think of it as a beach-ball. On one hemisphere are traits like: Extrovert, Sensation, Thinking, and Perceiving. On the opposite side of the sphere from Extrovert is Introvert. Opposite of Sensation is Intuition. Opposite of Thinking is Feeling. And finally, opposite of Perceiving is Judging.

Like the teeter-totter, where one side of the lever is heavier, each one of the octants (1/8 of the surface) of the sphere has a different mass. That means the ball when rolled, will be lopsided.

It wobbles when you roll it. But when it stops rolling, the heavier side will usually come to rest at the bottom of the ball.

The heavy side of the ball is your preferred personality state. Say, for example, your preferred state is an introvert (like me). So when it isn’t rolling, your introvert side is in contact with the ground.

But along comes a gust of wind and starts rolling the ball. Now which side is in contact with the ground? Do you understand the metaphor? Sometimes your introvert side will be down, sometimes it will be up. But over time, statistically speaking, it will be in contact with the ground more often than its opposite trait (the extrovert side).

Environmental Factors Roll Your Ball

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Your personality has a preferred state. But because of outside influences, which I call the environmental factors, you’re not very likely to be in your preferred state. You have been forced by the outside world to be in a different state. I’ll go on to submit that you’re rarely in your preferred state (your comfort zone). And until the outside force is removed and the ball can stop rolling, you’ll continue to be outside of your comfort zone.

These environmental forces can be a lot of different things. Here are several examples:

  • You may be married to an extrovert, and be forced to be in a lot of situations where you hang around other people.
  • Your parents may force you to take classes in music and art, just to get you in touch with your Feeling side.
  • You may have a tragic accident that leaves you partially paralyzed, and your sensation aspects are really curtailed.
  • You work for a boss that is a strong “feeler”, and you were assigned to represent him to a major client.
  • Your family heritage always involved voting for a Democrat, so you vote that way too in order to keep the peace with them.
  • You live in an apartment, and you can’t practice your drums all night long like you want to, because your neighbors upstairs constantly complain about the noise.
  • You run out of unemployment benefits and are forced to go out and find a real job.

I look at environmental factors as taking two forms: “peer pressure” from people, and physical factors such as natural disasters (sickness, accidents, weather phenomena). Mostly, it will be the peer (or “jeer”) pressure from other people that is most common. These environmental factors are constantly affecting our lives, and we are rarely in our preferred personality state. We’re forced to be something we’re not. And therefore, we have a lot of emotional stress.

Do you see the difficulty and the complexity of trying to market based on a person’s personality traits? Their ball is almost always rolling along on the floor, and they are not likely to be in their state of comfort when we meet up with them.

And even before we can create a marketing campaign that will attract a certain personality profile, we need to try to classify the traits of people to see if they will be receptive to our marketing message. In other words, we’re trying to figure them out — while their ball is rolling about wobbly. It is like trying to do a wheel alignment on your car while it is driving down the highway.

This complexity is why most marketing experts just tell you to talk about things like: features, benefits, value, and price. Those are much simpler, right?

But then they tell you to sell the “emotion.” And that leaves you scratching your head. What does that mean?

Emotional selling is an attempt to match your message to one of the emotional triggers that the prospect is receptive to. For example, the marketing experts tell you to agitate the fears of your prospect. Fear is probably the most important emotional trigger you can use to generate a sale. But what fear are you going to try to agitate? That is a million dollar question.

It is a difficult question to answer, because everyone has different fears. Agitating the wrong fear in a person is not going to get you the right response, which is a sale. On the positive side, when you do hit on the right fear trigger, the chances of a sale are much greater.

Here is the exciting news. The personality traits of the prospects dictate what kind of emotional triggers they are receptive to. If we find out what the preferred personality traits of the prospect are, the easier it is for us to put together the right marketing message that increases the likelihood of making the sale. Why? Because we’re getting into their comfort zone.

What if your marketing message is honed to match the prospect’s preferred personality traits?

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Imagine this. What would happen if you matched your sales presentation perfectly with the person’s desired state? The person would be completely at ease, wouldn’t they? They would feel really comfortable with your message. In other words, you would have created and instant bond of trust with them.

In reality, that is what the sales process is all about: building trust. So if you could create a marketing message that caused the person to gravitate toward you, it would make getting to “trust” a lot faster, wouldn’t it?

Let me give you a metaphor picture to understand this. Imagine the person’s personality ball rolling across the surface of a trampoline. You get in front of the ball, and put a very heavy weight on the rubbery surface. That weight is your marketing message, tailored specifically for one type of personality. The weight creates a bowl shaped depression on the surface. So if by chance, their ball rolls to the edge of the depression, it will likely roll into it.

Weighty Marketing Message Attracts the ProspectsAs it rolls down into the depression, it begins to go round and round, like it was trapped a whirlpool. This is your prospect checking you out from all angles. And it eventually rolls to a stop. Remember, when you roll to a stop, the outside influenced are removed and the part of the ball that is in contact with the ground is their preferred preference. Now you have them in a very comfortable position, don’t you?

I can’t guarantee that you’ll make the sale at this point, as a gust of wind might come along that is stronger than the depth of your marketing message; and the ball might be rolled away. But there is a much better chance that your marketing message will be acted upon. And it is certainly a lot more efficient than blasting holes in the surface of the trampoline (shotgun marketing) and hoping that their ball will fall through one of them. That is why it is worth studying how to match your message to the personality traits of the prospect. It is subtle, and it can be very effective.

It is still a complex process, however. Would you allow me to take you by the hand and guide you through it?

Simplifying the Complexities of Mind Reading

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For starters, who are we trying to classify? Our best customers that are currently doing business with us, of course. Those are the kind of people that we want more of, don’t we?

Or would you want to market to the type of people that are the worst kind of customers? The kind that suck up all your time and energy, and that want you to discount your prices? Of course not. You want to go after the prospects that are easy to deal with and are a good match to your selling style.

Doing this one step makes the process so much easier. So your task for today is to go through your customer list and rank your customers. Give an “A” grade to your best customers, then a “B” grade to the next best, followed by the “C’s” and “D’s”.

This is a good exercise to do anyway, because you’ll eventually need to fire the C and D customers. They are probably sucking up 80% of your efforts and are only generating 20% of your profits.

What is next?

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We have three areas to cover to make this all work. First, what are the personality traits of people? Second, how to you find out what the important ones are for your customers? And third, how do you craft your marketing message to match the prospect?

The answer to the first question is well documented. But it is worth a review, just to make sure that we are all on the same page. And we’ll start that discussion in our next post. So be sure to come back to this page.

The answers to the second and third question are the parts of the process that get more involved. But they are worth the money, because that is where you’ll make your fortune.

Next Article In This Series

Marketing Through Personality Traits

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Previous Post In This Series:

How to Know Your Customer and Increase Your Sales’ Effectiveness

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Teeter-totter image Photo Credit

Ball Photo Credit

Balls on trampoline Photo Credit

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