Many of us—without thinking about it—play up or play down parts of our personalities around different people. You might be more open and animated with one friend, and more private and steady with another. Likewise, no matter what type of salesperson you are, you can stretch toward the styles of your customers to create deeper connections and increase sales.
You’re not likely to know the DiSC® styles of your customers, but you can practice people-reading to estimate where they might fall on the DiSC map. Think about one of your customers and their observable behaviors. Are they more fast-paced and outspoken or cautious and reflective? Are they more questioning and skeptical or accepting and warm?
- Fast-paced and outspoken + questioning and skeptical = D-style tendencies
- Fast-paced and outspoken + accepting and warm = i-style tendencies
- Cautious and reflective + accepting and warm = S-style tendencies
- Cautious and reflective + questioning and skeptical = C-style tendencies
Once you have mapped a customer, continue reading below to learn how their priorities might differ from your own in sales interactions. (The Everything DiSC® Sales profile goes into much more detail, with advice personalized to you and your style.) Understanding where your customers are coming from lets you lean into behaviors that will build effective relationships with them. As leadership expert Robin Sharma says, “take care of your relationships and the money will take care of itself.”
Priorities: Results, action, competency
D-style customers know what they want and make quick decisions. They have a take-charge attitude and are usually not afraid to express their opinions.
Recognizing the D buying style
During sales interactions, a D-style customer will often:
- Move at a fast pace
- Desire immediate results
- Be willing to think big and take risks
- Speak candidly and assertively
What D-style customers want from a salesperson
D-style customers are goal-oriented. How will you help them achieve success? Start there. With D-style individuals, you often don’t need a lot of warm-up talk before getting to the real meat of the conversation. Here’s how to connect with customers who display D-style tendencies:
- Project confidence and determination.
- Show them you are competent.
- Focus on the bottom line and their return on investment.
- Communicate the concrete results and immediate developments they can expect.
- Cultivate a bias toward action.
Our D-style staff member says this: “I like a salesperson with a sense of humor who listens to my needs, makes recommendations, outlines pros and cons, and moves fast with just a little bit of small talk. Get to the point and get it done. I don’t really window-shop—I pretty much know what I want when I walk in that door.”
Priorities: Enthusiasm, relationships, action
Customers who tend toward the i style are extroverted and optimistic. They enjoy the social aspect of sales interactions and look for a friendly, informal atmosphere.
Recognizing the i buying style
To identify i-style customers, look for:
- Energy and optimism
- Reliance on intuition
- Consideration of others’ feelings and maintaining relationships
- Willingness to move fast and try new ideas
What i-style customers want from a salesperson
To connect with customers who display i-style traits, think of your interactions within the context of an ongoing relationship. Take time to build trust through friendly and sincere conversation. Also:
- Keep your energy level high. Inspire and excite them.
- Focus on what makes you passionate about your product or service, rather than more practical considerations (you can get to those later, if needed).
- Offer them innovation. Customers with the i style are often willing to be the first to try something new or to take an exciting but promising risk.
- Show them that you value your personal relationship with them. Be open and willing to share some details about your life if that’s where they take the conversation. It can be harder for i-style individuals to trust people who are all business all the time.
Our staff member with an iD style says this: “I like a salesperson with a sense of humor who is upbeat and makes me feel like I’m important to them. If they start digging into details without me asking or just talk too slowly, I get bored or sidetracked and lose interest.”
Our iS-style staff member says this: “I like a salesperson to have confidence. If they don’t like what they’re selling, why should I? Take the time to understand why I’m trying to buy something and give options for solutions, not just ‘buy this.’ I also like when they make it seem like I’m not an inconvenience to their day. You know, the little things!”
Priorities: Sincerity, dependability, relationships
S-style customers are often soft-spoken and agreeable. They are careful decision-makers, wanting to be absolutely sure their choice is right before they commit.
Recognizing the S buying style
To recognize an S-style customer, look for:
- An even temper
- Patient listening skills
- Displays of modesty and accommodation
- Hesitancy to commit to decisions
What S-style customers want from a salesperson
No matter your style, you can build a good relationship with S-style customers if you show them you are genuine and trustworthy. To better connect with S-style customers:
- Be sincere.
- Display thoughtfulness. Let them know you care about them beyond the sale.
- Earn their trust.
- Show them they can depend on you long term.
- Give them the time they need to think through their decision.
- Leave space for them in the conversation. S-style individuals can be very accommodating, making it easy for you to dominate the discussion. Don’t take their silence as agreement—ask questions and invite their input.
Our SC-style staff member says this: “I like helpful, humble, sincere salespeople. My guard immediately goes up when a salesperson comes on too strong. I don’t mind confidence in itself, but over-confidence reads like insincerity to me, which is one of my red flags. If a person trying to sell me something begins to pressure me, I’ll shut down and look for the quickest way out.”
Priorities: Quality, competency, dependability
People with C styles tend to approach buying decisions in systematic and analytical ways. They want to stick to the facts rather than straying into personal discussions.
Recognizing the C buying style
With C-style customers, you may notice:
- Methodical pace
- Interest in details
- Priority on logic and reason
- Private, reserved nature
What C-style customers want from a salesperson
If you’re working with a customer who displays C-style tendencies, you can build a relationship with them by emphasizing your own competency and your product’s high quality. Here are some other tips for connecting with C-style customers:
- Be well-prepared. These customers will likely have detailed questions, so have your answers ready.
- Dig deeper. While other customers may prefer the big picture, C-style customers often like to learn about details. Follow their lead and be willing to get into the weeds with them.
- Provide evidence of quality. C-style customers are generally skeptical and won’t be wooed by a catchy tagline. How can you demonstrate the merit of what you offer?
- Be accountable. Follow through on your promises and don’t promise more than you can deliver.
- Display your expertise. This is not the time for style over substance. Present yourself as the expert you are.
Our CD-style staff member says this: “I want a salesperson who can answer the questions I can’t find the answers to online. I want an efficient and clear process. I don’t want to be spoken to while I’m reading a contract. I appreciate any value-added information or options you can provide, but don’t push them. If I’m interested, I’ll ask for more information. The ‘most people’ argument means nothing to me and is not motivating. I sometimes appreciate being asked questions that are obviously needed to guide me to the right product. Don’t do anything that makes me feel silly or ignorant.”
Stretch to connect
Everything DiSC® Sales is an assessment and learning experience that helps any customer-facing team have better interactions with customers. The 25-page report provides detailed—and thoroughly personalized—guidance on people-reading and building relationships with all types of customers.
The DiSC model does not limit you to the behaviors most common to your style. On the contrary: DiSC teaches you how understanding your natural tendencies allows you to stretch into other mindsets depending on who you’re interacting with. Every person is a mix of all DiSC styles, even if they are strongly inclined to their own. We are all capable of flexing into any part of the DiSC map. When salespeople understand this—and get curious about the priorities of their customers—they are able to make deeper connections. “Don’t celebrate closing a sale,” says Patricia Fripp, “celebrate opening a relationship.”
You may download and use these images in conjunction with Everything DiSC training. Please do not alter the images. Permission is not granted to use these images with another DISC-inspired assessment or product. (Click on an image to open a larger version to download.)