How to read your clients or suppliers and then formulate your approach

Content provided by a guest contributor.

The purpose of this article is to help you as business owner to understand your clients better, so you can approach them in a way that will be beneficial for both of you.

The model I am using is the Social Styles model. My input will be less theoretical than the actual model as I would like to make it practical and easy to implement. In essence there are 4 thinking styles:

  1. Analytical
  2. Driver
  3. Amiable
  4. Expressive

Let’s explore each of them in more detail and then talk about how you should approach each style.

1. Analytical

For this person, decisions and actions are governed by what is right. They are driven by moral values and like to see detail and facts. They want to have options and like to ask “What if this or that happens...” or “Why” questions. They are very direct and no nonsense people. Thoroughness is more important than relationships. They tend to be reflectors by nature and want time to think about matters. Flattery makes them sceptical.

Your approach:

  • You need to prepare well and be thorough
  • Be structured: have an agenda for your meeting and be clear on your objectives
  • Give them options preferably in writing, offer them various options, allow them time to think about what they want to do next and follow up with them
  • They will measure you on delivery NOT on how nice you are to them
  • Avoid pressuring them as they like to be in control
  • Make sure you take action on what they ask and give them regular feedback

2. Drivers

This person is bottom line driven. They want to see progress, they are task focussed and they will push for results. They speak fast and come across strongly. They like to be in control. Drivers often have little time to listen to your story. They see flattery as wasting their time.

Your approach:

  • You need to be focussed in your communication, to the point and clear
  • Ask them what they want to do or what they see as the next step
  • Never “tell” them what to do
  • Avoid talking through issues as they are mainly interested in the end result
  • Drivers may overlook impacts, so support them by sharing issues you feel they need to be aware of
  • Take notes about what was agreed and email this to them
  • The tone of your follow up needs to be “I know you are busy, I just want to update you on...”

3. Amiables

To this person relationships are important. They dislike and will avoid conflict. They are non-confrontational and indirect in their communication – they will take a long time to get to their point. They like to tell stories. They take their time, are laid back and slow soft talkers. They give off gentle, harmonious energy and are incredibly easy to relate to.

Your approach:

  • You need to focus on building a relationship with this person and gaining their trust
  • Take time to sketch the big picture
  • Give them ample time and avoid pressuring them
  • When you follow up, focus on them by asking how they are doing before you start to talk business

4. Expressives

They like to be centre stage. Expressives have a high opinion of themselves; they talk a lot and can come across as being scattered. They tend to ignore the impact of decisions and may forget to think matters through. They have a high need for recognition.

Your approach:

  • You need to focus on building them as a person and complimenting them
  • Keep them focussed by “driving” the interaction and make sure you cover what you had set out for the meeting
  • Help them work through issues and ask specific questions so you get answers to what you need

We all have 2 styles – you need to work out the 2 predominant styles of your key clients and then approach them accordingly. For example, if someone is a Driving Analytical then you will focus firstly on the Analytical and secondly on the Driver. 

Enjoy experimenting!


The content in this article was provided by Linda Germishuizen - Clinical and Industrial Psychologist, and founder of PsychMastery.

For more information, contact:


Tel: 082 467 3214


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