Whether it’s a circle, square, triangle or squiggle line, the shape you identify with most reveals a lot about your personality and how you interact with clients.
In fact, thinking in terms of shapes can help travel agents improve relationships with their clients and ultimately make more sales, according to business motivational speaker and comedian Connie Podesta.
Podesta, the keynote speaker at the recent Signature Travel Network conference in Las Vegas, asked audience members to pick a shape that they identify with. She then outlined a personality profile for each one.
Squares, she said, are some of the most organized and detailed people. They are dedicated and can be counted on to do what they say. Squares don’t really like the word “team” but prefer to work on their own. Don’t second-guess squares.
They feel that the only way things can be done right is if they do them. Squares like to know what’s going on. They don’t like a lot of surprises, Podesta said.
Triangles are a bit obsessive-compulsive and the most detailed and focused of all shapes. They’re competitive and fight to win, according to Podesta. And they think they’re always right.
Triangles are some of the most action-oriented results people. Triangles can do 10 things at once and get frustrated with those who can’t. At the same time, triangles have a three-minute attention plan. Squares and triangles have no boundaries. They will tell it like it is.
Circles are highly sociable. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the audience, comprised of suppliers and agents, stood up when Podesta called out “Who are the circles?”
Circles are also optimistic. They’re the peacemakers of the world. Circles truly believe that they were born to fix everyone else and to judge and change everyone else’s behavior.
“If anyone has a problem they call together a meeting to fix things,” said Podesta. “Circles hate confrontation. They want everyone to be happy and to get along.”
Travel sellers who are circles or squiggles like to engage in small talk with their clients because they want to get to know them on a personal level, Podesta noted. This small talk is not a waste of time, as other shapes may think, but useful in qualifying the client, she said.
Of all the shapes among the crowd of agents and suppliers, the squiggles were by far the fewest. Only a handful of people arose when Podesta made the call for this shape.
Squiggles think outside of the box. They have lots of ideas but none of them make any sense, she said. Squiggles are not as organized as they should be, and their modus operandi is to create a maze of post-it notes to tell them what to do.
Selling to different shapes
So what do these shapes mean in terms of getting along with and selling to clients, particularly to those whose shape characteristics are different than your own?
To be successful, you must know how to sell in the way each customer responds to best, Podesta said. That means determining what shapes your clients are, so you will know how to interact with them.
Undersell squares, upsell triangles
Squares, who may see the more sociable circles and squiggles as phony, do not care for small talk. Squares do not respond well to upselling efforts, which they also regard as phony. The best way to impress this type of person is to undersell them.
Triangles, who will engage in small talk focused on themselves, are the easiest group to upsell. They love to be the first kid on the block to do and acquire things. Triangles love upgrades. They want to be in a nicer place with a nicer room. Triangles love technology.
Triangles are the group that you must never mess up with. They’re smart. They’re competitive. They’ll make a decision that day, because they don’t want to see you again, said Podesta.
Squiggles love small talk
Travel agents who are squares and triangles have difficulty closing deals with squiggles, because squiggles love small talk. They’re funny and fun and want to buy from someone who makes the experience fun.
In contrast to upgrade-minded triangles, squiggles are primarily concerned with getting to the ship on time.
Early or late?
Another difference among shapes has to do with time, Podesta said. Squares are always five to 10 minutes early and do not tolerate those who are late. Triangles always show up on time. Not surprisingly, circles, who tend to be late, often have difficulty in closing deals with squares.
Identifying clients’ shapes
How do you tell what shape your clients are? Sometimes it’s obvious, but if it’s not, find out. However, don’t ask them what shape they are, ask them how they want to do business.
One way to do this, according to Podesta, is by saying, “I can put together a portfolio with all the information and tell you how much it all will cost or you can come in and we can talk about the trip.”
If clients say they want to talk a little bit more, agents who are squares or triangles should adjust their reticent natures to this. If clients only want results with barebones communication, agents who are circles and squiggles must restrain their talkative impulses and keep conversation to a minimum.