You are in a meeting. One colleague says nothing and takes notes. Another interrupts, sounds disorganized and goes off-topic. Both are valuable contributors but their styles are diametrically opposed. What does this have to do with marketing and getting more business? Plenty.

People have been studied for the last 2,500 years, when Hippocrates noticed that human behavior fell into four broad groups. Since 450 BCE (Before Common Era) others have continued his work. We’ll get into more detail in later tips.

Right now, let’s skip ahead to your meeting.

Your quiet colleague gets his energy from ideas (I). He could be completely charged up by your discussion and formulating his next steps on paper. You would never know it unless you asked him. The problem is the more he talks and interacts with others, the more his energy battery is drained. He’ll have to reenergize privately at the end of the day. Instead he conserves his energy to work on the ideas off-line, fully motivated. You’ll hear short answers, right on point, and questions about next steps.

The interrupting, extroverted zealot gets her energy from engaging (E) other people, whether they engage back or not. The more she talks to people, the more energy she receives. She has to talk to think. She formulates her ideas on the fly, out loud and makes corrections out loud as her thought process clarifies. You’ll hear her repeat the same idea or point in different ways. She perceives dead air in a meeting as a problem – it is uncomfortable for her – and it must be filled. Let no silence linger. After all, no one is thinking if the room is silent.

No matter which type you are, the other type can drive you nuts.

Now, what if these two types are customers or prospects? One wants the pitch in an email and the other would love a phone call. Mr. Ideas wants to respond on his schedule. Ms. Engage can deal with an interruption almost anytime.

You have your own preference, which clouds your judgment as to what your colleagues and customers want: don’t all people act the way you do? Of course, your next thought is: if they don’t, they should.

How do you proceed, especially in this economy where every effort, internally and externally, must yield results?

A few answers and suggestions in the next tip.

Questions to ponder:

Is your sales and marketing taking into account this most basic component of human nature?

What changes can you make to tune your sales and marketing to this aspect of your customers?

You can start by giving them a quick customer survey.