If you are not familiar with DISC, it is a tool to measure a person’s behavioral patterns. It is a great way to learn more about yourself and an even better way to recognize, and to predict, behaviors in others. As a salesperson, it will identify your preferred communication style as well as that of your customers or teammates.
As sales is “the science of communication and persuasion”, being able to do so in a manner that is most accepted by your client is crucial and it is your responsibility to adapt and adjust! While DISC will not measure motivations (there are assessments for this), motivators and behaviors are closely aligned and we will touch on those.
DISC is largely based on observable behaviors which would suggest that you need to physically see them. While sight is certainly a part of this process, we are also able to observe with our ears as well as via our ability to read what has been written by others. In the world of social, online, selling … DISC can give you that needed edge!
Assess yourself & others
DISC is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, or Compliance. Different vendors might assign slightly different variations of these adjectives such as Stability instead of Steadiness.
Some even use animal names such as Eagle, Otter, Golden Retriever, or Owl. Here is an interesting article by Salesforce that talks about selling in alternate DISC nomenclature for salespeople, their customers, and more. Regardless … it’s all DISC.
Certainly, there are many vendors, including me, who provide full online DISC assessments. Some of these are even free (not mine). However, you can perform a quick assessment on yourself in exactly the same manner that you can perform this on others. You will need to determine only two things … pace and focus.
Pace will be either fast or slow. You see this in how people move, talk, and write. Do they display urgency or do they just sort of meander along? Focus will be either task or relationship. Is their focus directed toward business or toward people?
You will end up with one of four combinations … fast / task, fast / relationship, slow / task, or slow / relationship and here is how pace and focus are assigned …
- D – Fast / Task
- I – Fast / Relationship
- S – Slow / Relationship
- C – Slow / Task
Those who exhibit Dominance and Influence can also be classified as being extroverts whereas Steadiness and Compliance folks would be introverted. Super fast, super easy, and any and all of our of our senses can be used in making this determination.
In social selling these clues can be gleaned by what they share, how they share, how often they do so, their level of responsiveness, and how they present themselves. This holds true based on their behaviors with any form of communication including email and phone.
There is even a Chrome extension, Crystal, to assist you with emails. This site also offers additional DISC resources as well as a free assessment. HubSpot recently published an excellent article for your review … The Secrets of Using DISC to Close More Deals.
Flex your style
My preferred communication style is fast / task which would make me someone who displays Dominance. I also have secondary styles which will often emerge unannounced. Now, you don’t even have to be in sales to know that there are just some folks who you seem to immediately click with and others who you don’t.
I would suggest that your soul mates will communicate in much the same style that you do. As for others, when you put me with someone whose preferred style is Steadiness (slow / relationship) … we are exact opposites. The Steadiness person feels the same way. If I am trying to sell this person something … we have a problem.
We will not be speaking the same language and it is my responsibility to fix that. I have to adapt and adjust by slowing things down and engaging in … chit chat. While it may not be super comfortable, it will be necessary if I am to have any hope of making this sale. You’ve been there too. Some people call this technique mirroring.
Earlier I mentioned secondary styles. I can slip seamlessly into an Influence or Compliance style depending on the situation or even as the wind blows. Your customer might do the same thing. This explains those occasions where your conversations have been going so well and then, all of a sudden, they are not.
Your customer has shifted styles and you had best recognize this and make that shift right along with them. Communication and selling, operates in a highly fluid environment and you need to be prepared to go with that flow. It isn’t that complicated but, you must be able to intensely listen with all of your senses.
Understand their needs
Here are a few quick tips but, please be sure to get the bonus download at the end of this article!
Dominance – These folks like to make quick decisions and are generally motivated by bottom-line results. Skip the endurance presentation and the idle banter and get down to the numbers.
Influence – Don’t make them look bad or stupid as these folks thrive on looking good and particularly in the eyes of others. They like to have fun and, while they will generally decide quickly, they can reverse a decision just as fast. Relationships are important.
Steadiness – Avoiding conflict is a typical motivator. They will decide slowly and only after they have been assured that this will be the right decision and that it will cause little if any, chaos to the status quo. Take the time needed to earn their trust.
Compliance – Do you like charts, graphs, and data spreadsheets? Good because .. you two will get along famously. Compliance folks like the details and will only make informed decisions. Because of this … they too will tend to decide slowly. Remember … they are focused on the task, not the relationship.
Apply to social selling
Much of our time these days with social selling will be spent online but, always remember that your goal with any relationship must to to take it to real-life. Still, the beauty of DISC with social selling is that you will have the ability to gauge a buyer’s behavioral style prior to ever actually engaging with them. Watch for …
- Where they share – LinkedIn is for business, Facebook is for relationships, and Twitter is for … anybody and anything.
- What they share – Steadiness folks share family photos and those who display Influence share pictures of sports cars. Red and with them in them.
- Whether or not they engage with others – Influencers will engage … profusely. Those whose preferred style is Compliance will engage … with Excel.
- What do their profiles tell you about them? Read closely to determine what they feel are the most important things about them that they want you to know. After all, that is why they created their profile. How about their responsibilities? While most behavior patterns can be successful in any capacity, having someone who displays high Influence working in a role with little to no interaction with other people … it’s a square peg in a round hole that is likely doomed to failure.
This is not something that you can do with a quick look and nothing is an exact science. Among other things … you are looking for behavioral patterns. Keep in mind that none of us are entirely made up from one behavioral quadrant only. With many people, you may have two or three quadrants that can be fairly even in intensity.
For example, as previously mentioned, while Dominance is my preferred style, Influence and Compliance are not that far behind. Your two most important goals in this process are to identify their preferred style and then to anticipate, be prepared to shift to, whatever style is being presented to you at any given time.
There is an added benefit to this exercise that cannot be underestimated or overlooked is to be able to identify commonalities with our prospective clients. Social selling excels at this!
You love the same sport. You both lived in the same place or went to the same school. That kind of stuff. These are ice-breakers and rapport-builders. Your research will expose these.
The beauty of DISC is that its principles are not limited to selling. Actually, everything is related to selling. We persuade our co-workers to take on new tasks and to buy into our initiatives. These same goals hold true with our family and friends. One thing is for certain … Venus and Mars is not simply a gender issue.
We have only scratched the surface on this topic but, if you would like to learn more, please follow the link to an instant free download of a 17-page “Selling with DISC” package which includes role playing exercises! Have fun!