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September 23, 2021

How to Close More Business: The Secrets of DISC in Sales

Post By:
Kim Beckett
In-House Contributor
Founder and CEO
Beckett Consulting
Guest Contributor:

Sales is the life blood of any business. And the moment you take your foot off the gas is the moment you put your business in a vulnerable position, especially in this new era of 21st century virtual commerce. The marketplace is far more competitive, and the process has evolved to include more tools and strategies for connecting with prospects. 

And yet, for many professionals, sales remains a pushy, aggressive and uncomfortable process. From real estate and law, to finance and insurance, to good old fashion retail, regardless of the industry, sales professionals often struggle with this fundamental truth: 

Sales is about the prospect – It is not about you (or your feelings). 

Sales is an opportunity to understand the challenges the prospect is facing, and present solutions in a way that resonates with what matters most to that prospect. And what matters most will change from prospect to prospect. 

So what if you could better understand the temperament, priorities and preferences of your prospects? What if you had a secret decoder that you could use to instantly connect with people and identify their influencers in order to close more deals? 

Welcome to DISC.  Standing the test of time and scientifically validated, the DISC model is the secret decoder that categorizes people’s personalities and preferences into a four-factor model. These four DISC “styles” explain how people approach their work, how they engage in interpersonal relationships, what their priorities are, what their fears are, and yes, how they buy

DISC represents four styles: (D) Dominance, (I) Influence, (S) Steadiness, and (C) Conscientiousness.

We are all a blend of all four styles, and our styles can fluctuate depending on the environment or situation.   However, most people tend to gravitate more strongly toward one or two styles. It’s important to note that all styles are equal and valuable in their own way. Understanding each DISC style’s unique needs and motivators is the key to harnessing the power of DISC in sales. Closing the deal begins with identifying your prospect’s DISC style.

The DISC Customer Styles

  • The D-style customer is direct, confident and assertive. These customers don’t hesitate to express their opinions. They know what they want and make up their minds quickly, even if the decision is important or complicated. They may dominate the conversation due to their take-charge attitude.
  • The I-style customer is both outgoing, enthusiastic and optimistic. These customers love to socialize and build personal relationships. Small talk is appreciated and they enjoy a friendly, informal atmosphere.   
  • The S-style customer is even-tempered, accommodating, and tactful. They tend to be careful, sometimes reluctant to make a decision. They may avoid change and are hesitant to take on new ways of doing things.
  • The C-style customer is analytical, reserved, and systematic. They are unlikely to display great enthusiasm, even if they like what they see. They want to focus on the facts and base decisions on objective information rather than emotion or intuition. They prefer to avoid small talk or conversations of a personal nature. 

By identifying and understanding your customer’s DISC style, you can more easily connect, build trust, and effectively present the right information to improve your sales results. It should come as no surprise that what motivates and influences a D (dominant) is not what will motivate and influence an S (steady). 

So what drives each DISC style? What information should you prioritize for each?  And how should you adapt your pitch or approach? Here is a guide for incorporating and leveraging the DISC model so that you can start achieving bigger and better sales results.

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The DISC Customer Drivers

  • D-style customers are driven by concrete results, competency and action. They want to know how your product or service will directly impact priorities. They keep their goals in mind and their decisions are based on achieving tangible results. They look for confident salespeople with a “can-do” approach. They have little patience for lengthy discussions or complicated analysis. They want to know the key points so they can make up their minds quickly. 
  • I-Style customers appreciate enthusiasm, expect quick action and value relationships. They want to be inspired about an idea before they fully commit to it. They don’t wish to be bored by the details and prefer just the key points. It’s important for them to know the salesperson as an individual before buying a product or service from them.
  • S-style customers expect sincerity. They require trusting relationships and dependability. They want to know that the salesperson is sincere and genuine before they can move forward. They want to know you care about them as an individual, not just a customer before they commit to buying. Since they are naturally cautious, they want to know you will be there after the sale.
  • C-style customers value quality and expect dependability and competency. They ask probing questions and want details and evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of your product or service. They are naturally skeptical and want to be assured that you will be around to take responsibility if things don’t go as planned. They expect you to be knowledgeable about their business and like working with experts who can support their claims with evidence and details.

People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. Once you understand your prospect’s priorities, you can adapt your style to their preferences and expectations with these four easy steps. 

How to Adapt to Your Customer

Step One: Discover Your DISC style

Understanding yourself is the first step in adapting to your prospect. Connecting with people who share your DISC style is the easy part. Connecting with people of an opposite style is more challenging. In those situations, you must stretch to communicate effectively. 

Use these questions to get a sense of your DISC style:

  • Are you fast-paced & outspoken, questioning & skeptical? If so, you are likely the D-style.
  • Are you fast-paced & outspoken, accepting & warm? If so, you are likely the I-style.
  • Are you accepting & warm, cautious & reflective? If so, you are likely the S-style.
  • Are you questioning & skeptical, accepting & warm? If so, you are likely the C-style.

Role play and practice adapting your communication style for prospects of the opposite style. Consider verbiage that resonates with their priorities- nomenclature matters. Consider incorporating more or less selling tools and collateral to support the decision making process. You should never have a one-size-fits-all approach to the sales experience.

Step Two: Determine Your Customer’s DISC style

To determine your prospect’s DISC style, pay attention to the verbal as well as non-verbal cues. 

With D-style customers, you may notice:

  • Outspoken and straight-forward demeanor
  • Wants a fast action, doesn’t want to wait
  • Brief - impatient with small talk
  • Wants the big picture and the bottom line
  • Talks fast
  • Confident and assertive
  • Uses bold, questioning language
  • Skeptical approach
  • Business-like communication tone

With I-style customers, you may notice:

  • Accepting and warm demeanor
  • Enjoys small talk 
  • Eager to move ahead at a fast pace
  • Prefers big picture over details
  • Enthusiastic and expressive
  • Optimistic and upbeat
  • Excited about new opportunities
  • Casual communication tone

With S-style customers, you may notice:

  • Accepting and warm demeanor
  • Soft-spoken
  • Cautious about bringing up objections
  • Wants to involve others in the decision
  • Seeks reassurance that the right decision is made
  • Shows appreciation
  • Cautious about change
  • Polite communication tone

With C-style customers, you may notice:

  • Serious demeanor
  • Focuses on details
  • Wants to minimize unknowns
  • Desires accuracy and quality
  • Skeptical about details and numbers
  • Cautious about making final decision
  • Formal communication tone
Step Three: Consider Your Customer’s Priorities

Ask yourself, “What does this prospect want or need to know before they can make the decision to buy my products or services?” Then, identify key words or phrases to use in your sales conversations that specifically address their priorities. 

  • D-style priorities: Results, Action, Competency
  • I-style priorities: Enthusiasm, Action, Relationships
  • S-style priorities: Sincerity, Relationships, Dependability
  • C-style priorities: Quality, Competency, Dependability
Step Four: Be Purposeful in Your Approach

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey said, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" and that habit directly applies to sales.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Remember to communicate in the style they prefer and share what matters most to them about your product or service. Ask yourself:

  • How would they respond to a request for a quick 15-minute meeting versus a detailed discussion? 
  • Do they want you to get right to the point or take some time to chat?
  • What type of follow-up is most appropriate? A detailed report or a quick synopsis?
  • Do they appreciate enthusiasm or a calm collected demeanor?
  • Are they interested in the details or just a high-level overview?
  • For email, do they respond to a formal tone or casual, colorful language?
  • Do they like images and media or raw data?

If you’ve enjoyed learning about DISC, I highly encourage you to hone your DISC skills so you can leverage this power in your business.  

Take the time to understand your DISC style so you can clearly identify the styles that are the most challenging for you to connect with (and close!). Use this guide to practice stretching beyond your natural sales style to more effectively adapt to the preferences and expectations of others, regardless of their DISC style. 

And for the most effective results, I suggest taking a comprehensive DISC assessment. My preferred assessment is the Everything DISC Sales profile. It is a powerful tool that provides personalized insights into how to improve your customer interactions. It helps you understand your style and how your sales strengths and challenges influence your selling behaviors.