The phone is ringing again. All seems to be faring well in the HVAC business. Are your service technicians and sales team ready to effectively communicate with your hard-earned customers, or do you hear the following statements on a regular basis?

“What’s wrong with that lady? Her furnace is 25 years old and she won’t even consider replacement.”

“Why did that guy have to treat me like such a jerk? I was just trying to help him!”

“What is her brother in another state going to tell her on Saturday that I couldn’t help her with today?” (My personal favorite.)

If your service technicians and sales team are frustrated, it’s time for a new philosophy when it comes to communicating with homeowners. Personally, I spent 12 years of my life in Catholic school. The following lesson didn’t fall on deaf ears: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Today, as a grown man, husband, and father, I incorporate this lesson into my daily work, along with behaviors that emanate a feeling of trustworthiness, honesty, and integrity.

In business and my communication with customers, I’ve tweaked this lesson a bit. I strive to “Do unto others as they want to be done unto.” You see, we all take a different approach to communication, based on our personalities. In business and real life, we process information in a way that naturally makes sense to us.

According to the book “People Smart in Business,” by Tony Allessandra, Ph.D, with Michael J. O’Connor and Janice Van Dyke, Ph.D., you’ll approach four types of customers in business:

1.Dominant directors

2.Interacting socializers

3.Steady relaters, and

4.Cautious thinkers.

Here’s how each of these customers make purchase decisions:

Dominant directors are daring and forceful. How do these dominant people buy? They must feel the buying decision is theirs and that they’re in charge. Stay away from using a scripted, page-by-page presentation. Make it clear you understand how valuable their time is and you certainly won’t waste any of it.

Interacting socializers are influencing, enthusiastic, and talkative. How do they buy? They want you to be empathetic to their situation. Be prepared to get off-topic and share stories about yourself. These customers love testimonial letters and satisfaction surveys (so have them and use them).

Steady relaters are patient and easygoing. How do the steady relaters buy? Their buying process is analytical. They must go through all the information, likely with a pen and pad. Allow them to do this. They are accommodating, but all business. You’ll need to do more of the talking and proceed slowly with rapport-building.

Cautious thinkers are restrained, extremely precise, and hyperanalytical. They often fall into “paralysis from analysis.” How do they buy? They’re not making a hasty decision, that’s for sure. They panic in times of emergency (no heat for example) and need someone like you to take control.

When you adjust your selling approach and communication style with different types of customers, while keeping their best interest in mind, something important happens. You will make them feel comfortable. This will in turn make their buying decisions easier and allow them to buy the way they buy.

Editor’s Note: Mike O’Grady is a blogger forThe NEWS.Read his writing at

Publication date:01/24/2011