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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 11, 2004 18 years ago

Reach More of Your Audience

Knowledge of the four dimensions of behavior makes one a more effective communicator.By Stephen Garber, who provides executive coaching to enable people to select, retain and develop performance champions.

Reach More of Your Audience

Recently, over a cup of coffee, a friend revealed that he was somewhat dissatisfied with his closing rate at the financial planning seminars he has been conducting. In the ensuing discussion I asked what he was doing to increase his efforts at effectively reaching more of his audience. My friend replied that he didn't understand the question.

I explained that there are, or will be shortly, almost 300 million people in the United States, and while it's true that different people behave differently, fortunately for us, it's not true that we have 300 million people who behave completely differently. In fact, for our purposes, we only have to look at four different dimensions of behavior among our 300 million fellow Americans.

Those four different dimensions of behavior are 1) Dominance - the way individuals solve problems, challenges and make decisions; 2) Influence - the way individuals influence and interact with others; 3) Steadiness - the way individuals respond to the pace of change in their environment; and 4) Compliance - the way individuals comply with the rules and procedures set by others.

Additionally, each of these previous four dimensions of behavior has certain defined needs, fears and emotions associated with them; Dominance - need is to direct - fear is being taken advantage of, or losing control - emotions are impatient and quick to anger; Influence - need to interact or influence others - fear of losing influence or social standing - emotions are optimistic and trusting; Steadiness - need to adapt and complete - fear loss of security - emotions are non-emotional; Compliance - need to comply - fears consequences of not following rules or procedures set by others - emotions are fearful of consequences.

Now that I've managed to put you to sleep with all the "required information 101" in the previous two paragraphs, let's get to the heart of the matter: 120 million Americans have Steadiness as their dominant behavioral dimension. That means if your presentation is not appealing to their specific needs, fears and emotions, you just excluded 40% of your audience from buying your products or services.

Another 84 million - 28% of our population have Influence as their dominant behavioral dimension; 54 million - 18% have Dominance; and 42 million - 14% have Compliance as their dominant dimension.

As an example, let's pretend you are creating a financial products seminar. Keeping in mind the material in the previous paragraphs, let's examine the elements you must include to appeal to each of the four behavioral dimensions.

1. Dominance - This group is impatient, easily bored with detail, and requires information to focus on results without many specific details cluttering up the presentation. Be clear, specific and to the point.

Open ended questions that stimulate communication and response with this group are: If the results were - Can you see the advantages - Would/wouldn't you prefer - Could you reach your goals quicker by - What results would you expect - How would you implement this - Where would you expect your greatest return - Which of these will work best for you - Wouldn't that be an interesting challenge - Why would this give you more control - Which of these would give a more immediate return.

2. Influence - This group of people has behaviors that make them need to interact with others. They are optimistic, trusting, humorous and fun loving. Open ended questions that stimulate communication and response with this group are: Which of these are your best deal - Isn't this the neatest - Isn't it exciting to know - Who will you delegate this to - Can you imagine the possibilities - Wouldn't it be great - Why is that important in the future - Won't it be fun when - Won't this free you from having to - Can you see the highlights.

3. Steadiness - This, the largest behavioral group, has needs that make them look for security and people, products and services that are trustworthy and deserving of their loyalty. This group responds to logical explanations, takes time to think things through and is unimpressed by emotional demands and abrupt behavior.

Open ended questions that stimulate communication and response with this group are: Wouldn't it be nice to know - Isn't it reassuring - Why would security be important to you - Wouldn't it please you if - Isn't it comforting to know - Which would your family appreciate - Which of these would guarantee success - What would you consider a safe decision - Isn't it nice to find - Which of these would be most agreeable to you - Isn't it gratifying to know - How do you feel about.

4. Compliance - This behavioral group is often the hardest to reach. At times it may seem that there is not enough proof and data in the world to convince this group to act. These individuals work well alone, have high expectations, are often able to solve complex problems, frequently challenge themselves and follow rules.

Open ended questions that stimulate communication and response with this group are: Which of the benefits are most important - Do you see the value in - Why would you consider this the best - Which of these will meet your standards - How would you use this data - What plans do you have for - Could this help you be accurate/complete - What type of guarantee would you like - How would this compliment your present - Why would it make sense to - Isn't getting it right important - Wouldn't this help make a logical decision.

By blending questions from each of the four behavioral groups into your presentation you should be able to stimulate interest from much of your audience - with one big "IF." But for this to be effective, your presentation must be a win/win.

Stephen Garber, who lives and works in the Sarasota area, provides executive coaching for individuals and organizations to enable them to select, retain and develop performance champions. Questions and comments are always welcome at [email protected].

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