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I met recently with a coaching client who had this stunning announcement: “I’ve had it with engineers. They’re just too difficult. I’m not going to meet with any prospects who are engineers in the future.”

Was he right to give up on engineers? I can certainly understand his frustration. It’s a difficult group. But here are some tips for maximizing the possibility of converting them.

As an aside, while this article is specifically about engineers, my advice applies more generally to prospects who approach problems and decisions in a structured, analytical and data-driven framework.

Understand what makes them tick

Engineers (like all other groups) have well-defined personality traits. If you want to convert them, you need to understand what makes them tick.

The overriding personality traits of engineers have been described as follows:

  • Analytical
  • Perfectionist
  • Seek order and structure
  • Can be dogmatic
  • Uncomfortable with “vagueness and ambiguity”
  • Reluctant to consider “conflicting data.”

Apply the Solin Process?

The Solin Process? is premised on eliciting information, rather than conveying it. The process begins by getting to know the prospect as a person.

How can this process be applied to engineers?

Start by asking open-ended questions geared to learning about the prospect. But be prepared for it not to go smoothly. Engineers are likely to be impatient with what they deem to be “small talk.” They may want to get right to the point.

Let them.

Your job is to let the conversation flow in whatever direction the engineer wishes to take it. If that means responding to a detailed list of questions, do so in as direct and brief manner as you can, and then ask: “Did I answer your question or would you like more details?” If the engineer wants more details (as is likely), provide them.

By Dan Solin, read the full article here.