The Secret Sales Techniques of Personality Profiling (with Bob Sanders)

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall and welcome to the Authority Marketing Roadmap. Today, my guest is Bob Sanders, President of Sanders Consulting Group in Richmond, Virginia, a learning organization that specializes in helping agencies and design firms grow and expand. He helped pioneer the use of chemistry in new business, and today we’re talking about the secret sales techniques of personality profiling. Welcome, Bob.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob Sanders: Thank you and happy to be here. Hello to everyone in the podcasting world.

Relationship Building & Winning New Business

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Sounds good. How important is relationship building to winning new business?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Oh, golly. It’s everything. Look, every study that I’ve ever seen has shown that chemistry is the number one reason why clients hire agencies, and every time I’ve ever helped an agency try to win a pitch, go into a pitch, or just try to keep a client, chemistry is the number one reason. As we often like to say, it’s the number one reason why agencies get hired, and it’s the number one reason why agencies get fired.

So, if you don’t understand chemistry, or how to use it, how to manage it, how to create it, how to build it, [and how to] enhance it, your life can be very complex and confusing. So we try to make things simple.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Yes. So, can give us just a little background? You’ve worked with some large agencies on some pitches for brands and things like that.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Yes. I can tell you one great, little story. One of the big agencies, a multi-national agency, recently gave me a call. They had gotten invited into a multinational [pitch], one of those big complex search consulting type pitches, and they called me up and said, “Hey, Bob, can you help us out?” and I said of course, I’d be happy to. I’ve done work with them in the past, so they knew what we could do.

And they said, “No, you don’t understand, we’re the last agency in. Another big multi-national had to stop the pitch because they had a conflict.” And I said, “Okay, fine. That’s still not a problem. You’re the last agency in, but we can still win this thing.” And they said, “No, no, no, you don’t understand, 10 years ago we fired the search consultant and he hates our guts,” and I said, “That could be a little bit more difficult.” I said, “Still, let’s go in and give it a shot.” And they said, “No, wait. You don’t understand, we only have a few weeks to get ready. Every other agency in the search has had three months.” And I said, “Okay, well, we’re not going to win on capabilities, we’re not going to win on better creative. We’re not going to win on better strategy, because once you get up to that tier, pretty much everybody is the same. So, what we’re going to win on is chemistry.”

So, I went in, and we really hammered the chemistry. We drew a big wall map with all of the people on the search that were going to be involved. We profiled them all, we created little personas, and we created a little group of people within the agency who would mimic and reflect their values. And then we set up everything from the tour, to tickle their brain, the part of their brain that makes the decisions, so that they understood exactly who we are and how we operated, and that we were in sync with the way they think and operate.

We won on the way out. It wasn’t even close. The search consultant came back and said, “That was the most amazing thing I had ever seen,” and absolutely fell in love with us. So, chemistry wins, that’s all.

Researching Potential Customers

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: It works, it absolutely works. And so, do you recommend in-depth research of your potential customers before pitching them? It sounds like that’s what you did, right?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: That’s exactly what we did, and yes, I do. You go to any presentation school, study, map or whatever and they say, “Know your art, know your audience.” And generally, what they’re talking about is, know the type of people, their position, their titles, what they’re interested in, and that sort of thing, and we want to take it one step further. We want to know, how does your audience make decisions? How do they think, how do they operate? What is their worldview and the model that they live in? And once you understand that, then you can present information in a way that makes the most sense to them, so they’re more likely to buy what you’re selling.

Personality Profiling Defined

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Absolutely. So, what is personality profiling? How would you actually define that?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: It is a system of patterns. That’s the easiest way to think about it. Everyone, regardless of your race, background, religion, creed, where you grew up, geography, it matters not. Everyone lives in a pattern. If you learn to identify those patterns and can quickly give them the information in the way that they want to see it, then you’re more likely to win. You’re more likely to succeed and you’re more likely to convey the nuance and the communication tactics that you’re looking for.

We all want to believe and think that everyone likes information the way that we, personally, like it. And that’s not the fact. So, by just simply being observant and paying attention to the way that these people operate, what they say, what they do, how they shop, how they walk, how they dress, how they set up their office, how they answer the phone, how they respond to voicemail, all of these things, you can just look at and quickly come up with a profile to say, “This person is like X, or Y, or Z” and then we can match.

Four Types of Personality Profiles

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: And what are the four people types?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Well, Myers Briggs has many, many layers and if you’re familiar with Myers Briggs, then you have an idea, you know a little bit about where I’m coming from. There’s another thing called The Disk, which breaks it into four groups but again, all of those things, to me, just complicate and confuse the issue. So, we like to keep it real simple, just the four basics, the four top line layers, and because we work in marketing and advertising, we named them after the parts of an ad.

The Headline Type

So, you have the Headline Type. That’s the headline of an ad, they want direct results-oriented decisions. They are assertive and task-oriented. So they’re easy to identify. They’re the type of people who don’t care what type of car they drive, as long as it gets them from A to B. They wear basic clothes, their office is very Spartan and set up for work. They have a photo on the credenza of their family — their spouse brought it in and gave it to them and they looked at them and said, “I kind of know who you are, you know, why do I need a picture to remind me?”

The Body Copy Type

Then you have the Body Copy. That [type is] detail-oriented and task-driven as well, but lower assertive, so they ask a lot of questions. They’re the who, what, where, when, and how. They’re the ones who are going to be the most cost-conscious buyers. If the headlines could make a snap decisions, the Body Copies have a hard time making any decision. So, if you want to sell to a Headline, for example, you’ve got to give them options so they can make decisions. Presenting one course or one recommendation is never a good thing to a headline. But, to a Body Copy, if you give three options, you’re going to drive them nuts. They’re going to go into analysis paralysis. They’re going to need more data, more information. Try to figure out how can we sort these three. Give them a process instead, walk them through. A, B, C = D and that is our recommendation, that’s why we’re going that way. Give them all the background information and a beautiful leave behind. You’re going to win.

The Logo Type

You move to the people side of the equation, low assertive, people-people, that’s what we call The Logo. Just like a logo on the ad, it’s the warm, smiling, happy people that brought you the ad. Logos are relationship based — they love people. They want everyone to get along, they want to communicate and build consensus. They’re very casual dressers, not paying attention to time, and they tend to run long and have lots of conversations. Headlines can’t stand them because they want to get straight to the point. But Logos want to sit and chat for 20 minutes before they even bring up work. So, you know, the mismatch there can drive chemistry right out the window.

If you’re working with a Logo, you need to recognize that they’re going to show whatever you present to everyone in their office and their friends and possibly their family as well. So, you have to up-sell the organization before you get them to make it. And it’s going to be a very safe decision. They’re not going to take risks — they don’t stick their neck out.

The Illustration Type

Now, that leaves the final quadrant, which is what we call the Illustration, or the thing that draws your eye to the ad. They’re the flashy “wow,” excitable, very high-assertive but people-oriented. [They’re the] dancing-at-the-bar-at-three-o’clock-in-the-morning type people. They’re fun and high energy, but hard to keep focused and hard to keep on track. They like to drive flashy things, they wear flashy clothes, and if you’re going to pitch to them, you’ve got to come in with something wow. Something that has never been done before, or at least, something that they hadn’t seen before and try to make it big and interesting. Then last, but most important, with Illustrations is they’re going to have 20 ideas ripping off from your idea. You do not shoot them down in the room; they hate it when people kill their ideas.

And you can bundle them all up and walk out the door and throw them in the trash on the way out, that’s fine. They don’t care, because they’ve forgotten and they moved on to the next topic but, while in the meeting, you’ve got to keep it interesting and informative and high-energy and a take-them-out-to-Starbucks-kind of thing. So, those are the four: Headline, Body Copy, Logo, and, Illustration and if you can just simply identify one of those four profiles before you going to meet somebody, your meeting is going to be much more successful if you learn some of the rules and tools and techniques that we teach.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Yes. That’s really fascinating. I took conversion optimization masters certification with Brian Isenberg, and he has the four personality types for conversions — the competitive, spontaneous, humanistic, and methodical. It doesn’t necessarily seem that these are exact parallels, but similar and nicely broken down into four groups that are very digestible. I can see how, as a methodology, you [can] get your head around [it] and work on it.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: People don’t realize where this whole thing started from. I mean, it goes all the way back to the Egyptians, five thousand years ago. They didn’t recognize that there are four types of people. They just called them Earth, Wind, Iron, or Water, or something like that. You know, they had four different classifications of types of people that they knew existed in the world. We forgot about it during the dark ages and of course science comes on to the scene with Myers Briggs. A mother-daughter team created this big study of three million GI records in World War II and they quickly made it scientific, which means that it’s complex and hard to remember. If I am an INT-something, that doesn’t really help me understand [what to do] if I am going to go meet somebody. So, any time you can take it and make it easy and turn it into a language that you’re familiar with, hat makes it second-hand, so that as soon as you see something, [there’s a] trigger and you know. That is that type of person. You’re going to be wrong some of the time and right some of the time, but again, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re close. As long as you’re in the ball park, you’re going to be more receptive to what you’re talking about.

The Application of Personality Profiling

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: So how do you use a personality profile and to create better chemistry? What’s a practical next step?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Well, allow me [to give] one classic example of how we use it. If you’re going to meet somebody for the first time, generally, at their office, they come out, they say hello, they shake your hand, you do the little short chit-chat, but then, what’s the first question they ask as they’re walking you back to the conference room by their office? Generally, it’s, “Can I get you anything? Would you like a cup of coffee?” That little question is a chemistry checking question. How you answer that question can either help you win the account or lose the account. And it’s amazing how little people you can think about something as small as that “Can I get you anything? Would you like a cup of coffee?

I mean if you’re meeting with a headline, the answer is obviously, “No.” They want to get straight to the point. They want to get to business. If you want a cup of coffee, bring your own darn cup of coffee. You know, they don’t care. It’s not about them, it’s not about you, it’s about the work and the task at hand. If you want coffee, you should’ve brought it. You know, they’re going to ask because everyone is polite and everyone is nice and if you say, “Yes,” it’s going to irritate them and they’re going to feel like you’re not in sync with them.

With the logo, I don’t care if you drink coffee or not, you better say, “Yes.” You better go with them and get a cup of coffee and have a great conversation about coffee, over the coffee while you’re waiting to talk about business. And sit on your hands and chit-chat about the life, the universe, and everything for 25 minutes before you bring up work.

[The illustration is] going to ask, “Can I get you anything? Would you like a cup of coffee?” and if there’s a Starbuck’s nearby, that’s what you say. “Hey, there’s a Starbuck’s right around the corner. You want to go and get half caff or a decaf, with a twist?” They’re going to love you for that. That is the type of thing that we preach and teach. It’s the little, simple questions that you get all the time at these meetings, whether it’s coffee, or how fast you bring up business. How you know the body copy is ready to start talking about business, [is] they touch something on their desk, or there’s thousands of little clues that you can be aware of. They can help you build better chemistry with them.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: That’s fascinating.  I definitely have some work to do on the answer to that question. I usually say, “Water would be great.” And that standard answer doesn’t sound like it’s going to get [a good response]. I’ve got to do my research on that question which, obviously like you said, it gets asked every time.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Every time. It’s amazing. And yet, nobody ever thinks about what is the right way to answer? And if you do just a little bit of due diligence before you go meet somebody, you can figure it out. Look at their LinkedIn, look at their Facebook, look at how they responded to your email, was it just an initial, or did they write something really long? All of these little things are clues to tell you whether they’re more task oriented or people oriented, whether they’re low assertive, or high assertive. And if you learn those two questions — are they task or people, are they low assertive or high assertive? If you can answer those two questions you can put them in a quadrant, and then as long as you work with them in that quadrant, they’re going to be more profitable with you.

How Personality Profiling Can Help You Close More Deals

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: That’s great. Good tips. And how does knowing the people type of each prospect help you close more deals?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Well, I could go through about a million examples of how [it] can help you close more deals, but I’ll just [go into] a couple. If, for example, you’re going to pitch for a headline, and [say] they give you an hour to present your capabilities, which I hate. I never do capabilities presentation, but, we’ll get into that later. But if you go into pitch to a headline and they give you an hour, you want to be done in about 30 minutes. You want to do everything in headline mode. You want to have just bullet points, short, sweet, and to the point, like your case studies. Just focus on results. You don’t go into a whole lot of detail, you just gloss it all over, have a nice shiny leave behind, and at the end you give three options how you can start working together.

If you’re pitching to a body copy, for example, and they give you an hour, you’re going to take an hour, exactly. But timing and paying attention to the details, having more organization, more information, more background, more experience, is going to pay big dividends.

If you’re going to pitch to a logo, it’s going to be warm, friendly, and casual. Leave the PowerPoint behind. Leave any glossy thing behind. Just sit down around a little round table and have a conversation. It’s about people working with people.

And if you’re pitching to an illustration, find some way to break them all and do something different. Bring the prop, drag them outside and do it in the park. I’ve seen a thousand different ways to pitch to illustrations, and they love it. But you need to make it a show. You need to make it interesting and exciting and different. So the bottom line is you have these four different profiles, and you want to tailor your pitch to whoever the top person is, or the organization that you’re pitching to, so they are more likely to be receptive for what you’re saying. Does that make sense?

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Yes. Absolutely. You gave us one great example. Do you have another example, maybe of type of sales technique in action?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Yes. Of course. There’s a classic example of a mid-size agency that we’re working with, that we had profiled the team that we were pitching and they were headline and body copy. Right? So half the group that we were pitching were results oriented and wanted options, [while] the other half were body copy. So they wanted more process and information in detail. So what we did in the first round, is we tailored this beautiful presentation, and we had this beautiful, thick leave behind and we just slid it across the table to the body copy and they just dug into it and we could ignore them for the rest of the meeting. And then we gave a very headline oriented presentation with three options that the headlines absolutely loved.

Of course, then what happens as we go into the next round and we were in the lead, we were out in front by far. At the last minute, a creative doctor came in with this killer idea and everyone looked at him and said, “That’s heroic. That is just amazing. That should win the account.” And I said, “No. I don’t care if it’s brilliant or not, we can’t 1) change strategy midstream because that’s going to drive the body copies crazy, and 2) we can’t present something different other than our three options because that drives headlines crazy.”

The agency ignored my advice and presented a really big idea, only to find out from the headline that their competition had launched something identical to that just that day and they lost the account. But frankly, we had it in the bag  and we had it won. All we had to do was solidify the strategy and we would’ve walked away with it.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: That’s a great example of what not to do. That’s even better.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: I can’t tell you how many times agencies fall into that trap of falling in love with your own idea and not following the profile, or not following the pattern, and that creates confusion. [Garnering] new business and winning an account revolves around trust, which means that you have to have the chemistry, because that means that they know you, they like you, they think the same way you do, and therefore they trust you. They know you’re going to do a good job. So focus on building chemistry and trust and don’t do things that harm that little perception bubble that [they] like to build around your pitch. It’s an alternate reality, so there’s this little perception world that you want to create just for that pitch moment and that’s what you want to live in and breathe in. If you pop that bubble, you’re dead.

Getting Started With Personality Profiling

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: That’s a great visual. So, how can people get started using sales psychology and personality profiling?

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Well, we have a little, quick [test]. If you’re wondering who you are, the headline, body copy, logo, or illustration, then got to our website at It’s really easy and simple. You can go there, it’s about 20 questions. Just click on them and they’ll tell you right at the end exactly who you are. It gives you a little information about how to buy and sell and work with those types of people. You can also go to our blog,, and just take a look at it. Do a search for chemistry, because I have about 100 different posts up on different ways to look at and think [about] how to work with clients more effectively by identifying their profiles, how to keep clients longer by identifying their profiles, and how to pitch. All of that information is out there and on there.

And lastly, we offer a couple of different packages that we deliver to agencies. I mean, I’ve done it with seven in the past couple of years, seven of the top 10 agencies in the world. We go in and train their team on how to use this language, this Headline, Body Copy, Logo and Illustration. It really does become a second language for the agency where, if you’re getting ready to go meet somebody you hadn’t met before and they say, “He’s a Headline”, you know immediately how to handle that meeting. It just becomes second nature and everyone in the agency has to understand that language. Make it part of your culture, [for example, say] “It’s a pitch Body Copy, got it. All right, we’re going to do a lot more detail, let’s focus in on digging deeper,” or “It’s the Illustration, let’s start stretching our brains and come up with more creative ideas,” or “It’s a Logo, we’ve got to really network, build a better relationship and focus on digging deeper and becoming more common with them.” All of these things should be second nature or kind of a hidden language that you use for clients and prospects in order to keep them better.

Using Personality Profiling as an Entrepreneur

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: And so, this may be a twofold question. Agencies, ad and digital agencies and companies like that, we would get our various team members to take the test for themselves to understand a little bit about their own personality profile. But you can’t send your quiz to everyone you’re going to pitch. They don’t want to see that. You have to decipher it, as you said, from cues from when you meet with them, look at their clothes, look at how they write emails etc. My question is, confirming as an agency a little bit about the process of how you get started with this, and also, what about just even an individual consultant that’s not an agency that might be pitching, even if it’s a chiropractor or a dentist or a lawyer, if they are trying to win new business? Maybe [provide] a quick tip for a solo entrepreneur or [just on a] more basic level than [what] an agency would go through.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Well, I mean, that’s an easy answer in that we do no work for clients of agencies. So, if you’re on the client side, “I’m sorry, we just can’t, my board won’t let me,” it’s a real simple answer. If you are any type of marketing communication firm, then give us a call, we can even set up a little short webinar with you to give you the highlights and the background of the information. If anyone is just interested in learning more about this, I encourage you to go online an look at the Myers-Briggs website, which has details and tons of information [on it], and there is the Disk website, which also has details and tons of information about both types of learning and programs, and they apply. Again, the trick is to take it at face value, learn what you can and then skinny it up so that it becomes a simple tool instead of this complex, deep thing that you have to learn.

But, it’s all about just studying a human brain. Look, I talk to students all the time. Different universities will ask me to come in and give a little talk about the future or the past, present and future of advertising and the world of ad agencies, of what’s going on in the marketplace. And at the end, I usually say, “Look, I’m really happy that you guys have all graduated with this Advertising degree or Marketing Communications or Mass Comm, or whatever they call it nowadays, but if you really want to be great in this industry, if you truly want to be fantastic in our world, you don’t study advertising, you study people. [This] means you study sociology, psychology, folklore, religion, and acting. And, if you master those five fields, you’ll be great in our world.”

Anyone Can Use Personality Profiling in the Business World

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Folklore, people, acting, I’m taking notes, that’s great. But in closing, even a student or somebody that’s just building their authority in business and trying to do a better job of selling, this applies, right? You don’t have to be an ad agency to use this. A student or any individual consultant is going to do better in selling a new business if they focus on relationships and understanding people.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Absolutely. I mean, we all evolved from that lizard hind-brain that sits inside of our brain and we like to rationalize our decisions in a many, many, many different ways. And so, we’re going to say, “I need a new car” and we’re going to go out and buy a new car. We might do some research, we’re going to test-drive, we’re going to do whatever it is that we do, but then, at the end of the day, we’re going to buy the car that that little lizard hind-brain really, really wants. Whatever has tickled that lizard hind-brain, it’s going to make the most sense to the rest of the brain, to your higher conscience.

So, I don’t care if you’re an engineer or you’re selling widgets or copiers, or if you’re student, if you just work hard to understand how people think and operate, what motivates them, and what causes those little triggers for those buying signals, then you’re going to be more successful. I mean, most of us, I’d say 99.9% of us live in a world where we have to work with other people and, if we want to be successful, that means we need to understand how those people think and operate so that we can better communicate, work more effectively and share in the reward together. And that’s all we teach. That’s the number one focus of what we do.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Well, these have been great sales and influence tips today and thanks for speaking to us today, Bob.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: My pleasure and thank you for having me, and good luck with everyone out there.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: Tell us how people can get in touch with you. You’ve mentioned your site, but remind us of that or any ways to contact you.

Bob Sanders Interview PhotoBob: Of course. It’s and if you have a question, to be fair I always get questions after this thing, so I’ll be happy to respond to any question, just shoot me an email. It’s the easiest way to get in touch with me, and it’s [bob @]. Very easy, simple, [just] send a question with chemistry and the header. I will get back to you, [but] it might take me a couple of days because I tend to travel and fly about the world a lot. I look forward to hearing from anybody. If you have a question about the client, a particular issue, something that’s going on that you just don’t understand, or pattern that you’re seeing that doesn’t seem to make any sense, I’m happy to help. We love helping people win.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn: That sounds great. I’m sure some people will take you up on that. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s session. Check out for more interviews and information on Authority Marketing and subscribe and review our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. I’m John McDougall, see you next time on the Authority Marketing Roadmap.

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