A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 63 - Super's Theory of Relativity

You have a meeting today with a new prospect and you know that the prospect has already met with your competition. In order to get this sale you need to build trust and rapport quickly – something that's not always easy to do. Carol Super, author of Selling Without Selling: 4 ½ Steps to Success (AMACOM, 2004), had defined four separate groups of people, each with a different manner of processing information. Determining which category your prospect falls into takes only minutes and will enable you to build rapport more effectively.

The first distinction is temperature. People are warm or cool, says Super, and you usually can tell instantly which category a person falls into. Oprah is warm, for example, while Al Gore is cool. The next determination is whether someone's an L.A. or New York type. If you're forceful, dynamic and always in a hurry, you're Big Apple material, no matter if you hail from Staten Island or South Dakota. Conversely, if you're more laid back, thoughtful and receptive, you're an L.A. type.

Super's four categories correspond to the different combinations of temperature and geographic affinity. Here's her take on each category and tips for relating.

Warm New York: The Oprah Type. Energetic and quick, this type is more of a talker than an asker, says Super. So let them talk. Oprahs love new and different, and like to take the lead. "Everything is personal with them," says Super. "Don't get ruffled or take their gruff attitude personally."

Warm L.A.: The Al Roker Type. Warm, friendly and interested, Al Rokers are laid back and social. Relationship is important to them, so share information rather than inundate them with facts and figures.

Cool New York: The Donald Type. Numbers are what make Trump types drool, so give graphs, charts and figures to make your point – but be quick and to the point. Donald types have no patience for warm fuzzies. Let them be in control.

Cool L.A.: The Einstein Type. Einsteins are thinkers. They want numbers, details and facts, and like to question where ideas and concepts come from. "Be systematic and methodical," says Super. "Give them time and space to make their decisions."

Super emphasizes that there is no right or wrong when it comes to personality. No matter what category your customers fit into, you can learn to relate to them in the way that makes them feel most comfortable. When you do, "they'll put up fewer barriers," Super says. "They'll trust you to keep their best interests as your primary goal."

Know thy enemy better than you know thy friend, eh?