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Sales & DiSC

The sales relationship might be fairly shallow, but it’s important. How can we build satisfying sales relationships? You can adapt your selling style to match your customer’s buying style.

Sales are based on relationships

We often prefer to buy from someone we trust, someone local, or someone recommended by a friend. Our relationship with the seller might be shallow, but it’s important. It makes the sales experience more enjoyable.

How can we build satisfying sales relationships? Psychology tells us that we’re more at ease with those who mirror our style. We turn toward people we think will understand our priorities and validate our own choices.

How comfortable are you with adapting your selling style to the way your customer behaves? Do you note the clues customers offer to their own style and preferences? Do you notice he doesn’t like to shake hands when you greet him? Do you remember she likes to chat about the weather or traffic before she’s ready to discuss anything business-oriented? Does he seem to always be in a hurry? These may be indications of your customer’s particular buying style. Knowing how to adapt to better meet those needs may make your customer feel more comfortable purchasing from you.

“The essence of selling is figuring out how what you’re offering will help customers accomplish their objectives—not your objective, their objectives. Anything else is pointless and self-serving.”
How One Entrepreneur Learned to Sell (in a Barroom)

This video from the Everything DiSC® Sales Facilitation Kit shows an example of a customer with DiSC D-style tendencies.

In the two videos below, you can see how this customer reacts differently to different behaviors from the salesperson, Eric. As an S-style individual, Eric is naturally humble and accommodating, meaning his instinct is to defer to the customer. This deference, however, can frustrate a D-style customer like Ann, who is looking for confident recommendations from an expert. In the first video, Eric doesn’t stretch toward Ann’s style. In the second, he does.

What is your sales style?

Everything DiSC Sales is an excellent tool to help you learn more about yourself, your selling style, and the buying styles of potential and existing customers. When my boss took the assessment, she was pleased to see that her style—iD—has strengths like being energetic without wasting customers’ time and being able to balance customers’ emotional needs with their business goals. On the other hand, she also learned that she might fail to give customers time to reflect or analyze. She might even appear bored when they talk. She now understands that she needs to work on being more responsive to customers who are more analytical.

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Using DiSC for hiring sales personnel

Nearly every organization requires effective salespeople, and selecting those who will be successful is challenging. We know there are employers who believe there is a particular style that will excel at sales. DiSC is not a predictive tool; it won’t predict success in sales or any other discipline. It’s a flawed strategy to assume that because you have a successful salesperson who is an i style, your next salesperson should be an i, too. Because we are adaptable and have different skills and unique experiences, two people who appear to be identical on paper may present diametrically opposite sales talent. Using DiSC to select for sales positions is unlikely to accomplish your goal.

There are, of course, different strengths and priorities individuals with various DiSC styles bring to their jobs. The first three pages of the Sales profile report cover your sales priorities, strengths, and challenges. One style might easily show dependability and sincerity. People with this style may build good relationships but need some training and support to be more focused on showing competency, getting results, and taking more direct action when needed. Rejection might be harder on this style, but nurturing long-term relationships with customers might come more easily.

It’s a flawed strategy to assume that because you have a successful salesperson who is an i style, your next salesperson should be an i, too.

The Sales assessment can be helpful to discover soft skills a new or experienced sales professional needs to build or practice. It might also show gaps in your sales team’s strengths. For example, you might discover that you have been hiring people you know will be comfortable learning and explaining the complicated features of your product. But you could also use someone on the team who is more comfortable maintaining a personal relationship with your longer-term clients. We endorse Everything DiSC Sales as a developmental, not predictive, tool. (We recommend using the PXT Select prehire assessment for hiring.)

It’s clear in most organizations that nearly everyone employed there is in sales in one form or another. Each person is building relationships with customers and vendors or networking with other professionals in their area. Having employees beyond just your sales team take Everything DiSC Sales or the Workplace assessment will help customer service, purchasing, and other employees understand their own needs and the communication needs of their internal and external clients.


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Using DiSC to build the sales relationship

When you take the Everything DiSC Sales assessment, you’ll have the chance to build a clearer picture of a specific customer and their buying style. Is she skeptical? Is he focused on dependability? With the Customer Interaction Mapping tool you get with the profile, you can consider behavioral traits about an individual customer and complete an Action Plan for working with them. Here’s an example:

Excerpt from Everything DiSC Sales profile about working with a specific customer.

This is a great tool to use when handing a lead off to the sales team or a current customer to a new sales team member. Instead of hearing “oh, they’re great to work with—a really easy customer” you can get real tips for working with this customer based on the salesperson’s style. You might find that they’re interested only in white papers and take a long time to make a final decision, thereby draining your energy. You prefer customers who like to engage in small talk and are moved by your enthusiasm for the products you sell. An easy customer for one person might be challenging for another.

You may have read about a sales model that groups people into four types but isn’t based on the DiSC model. The model is close, however. The assertive or driver type is similar to the D style, the amiable type is similar to the S style, the expressive type to the i style, and the analytic type to the C style. To really know your DiSC style, however, you need to take an Everything DiSC assessment.

DiSC doesn’t teach you how to sell, nor does it suggest that you be inauthentic in your approach to customers. It does provide valuable insights into your natural sales tendencies, some of which you might need to rely less upon with certain customers. It gives tips that can help you practice adapting to your customers so you can continue to build satisfying relationships—a win for both you and your customers.

DiSC doesn’t teach you how to sell. Instead, it gives you insight into your natural sales tendencies and tips on adapting to your customers for stronger relationships.

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