As far as sales strategy goes, one of the most important factors to success is your approach. Understanding your customers' products and service needs is good, but also understanding their pesronalities and priorities creates an even greater advantage. So how do you approach a prospect you have never met? Would it be great if there was a peronal marketing and networkign equivalent to the Magic 8-Ball?
In fact, there is. Research has shown that every person's behavior can be grouped into four major personality styles. Each style has its own set of priorities and characteristics. While everyone has some of each of the four styles, people usually fall in line more strongly with one particular style. By identifying and understanding your customers' priorities, you can adapt your approach to connect better and strengthen your customer relationships.
The model, used by thousands of organizations around the world, is called DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness). These four dimensions can be represented as a circle, with "D" and "I" sharing the top quadrants and "C" and "S" sharing the bottom quadrants.
This research-based personality model will help to quickly identify and understand the needs and priorities of customers-even the ones you have only recently met.
So, how does this help you to identify someone's style? Think of a customer. Now ask yourself if he or she is more "fast-paced and outspoken" or "cautious and reflective." Next, consider whether your customer is more "questioning and skeptical" or "accepting and warm." The combination places them in one of the four quadrants. That is his or her DISC style. And each DISC style has its own set of priorities.
Customers with a Dominance style are fast-paced and outspoken, as well as questioning and skeptical. They prioritize action, results, and competency. They want a vendor to get to the point-fast.And they may be less inclined to spend time making conversation than other customers.
Customers with the Influence style are fast-paced and outspoken, as well as accepting and warm. In sales situations, they prioritize action, enthusiasm, and relationships and they may see the process as an opportunity to socialize and network. This customer may become distracted and have little interest in the details of your proposal.
Customers who fall under Steadiness are accepting and warm, as well as cautious and reflective. They prioritize relationships, sincerity, and dependability and they look for reassurance that their vendor has their best interests in mind. This customer may need time to reflect on proposals and might be uncomfortable with a request for a quick decision.
Finally, those customers with the Conscientiousness style are cautious and reflective, as well as questioning and skeptical. They prioritize competency, quality, and dependability. They prefer to stick to the facts and are unlikely to engage in small talk or be swayed by a pitch based on emotion.
Adapting Your Approach
You may discover that it is easier to adapt to certain styles than others. This is in part because of your own DISC style. For instance, if you have a "D" style, you probably emphasize bottom-line results. This is likely effective when dealing with other D-style individuals. Those with an "S" style, on the other hand, may find the "D" approach to be blunt or too fast-paced, especially when dealing with sales.
By contrast, if you are an "I," you probably focus on getting to know your customer personally. A customer who also tends toward the "I" style may appreciate your enthusiasm and friendliness. Those who lean toward the "C" style, however, might find it off-putting, considering it to be frivolous or too forward.
If you have an "S" style you're probably sincere and try to establish a relationship of trust. Customers with the "S" style probably will appreciate that you care about them and will try to avoid sudden changes, even if that means there is little sense of urgency. But those customers with the "D" style might perceive this as uncertain or wishy-washy.
Finally, if you are a "C" personality you probably focus on the quality and reliability of your product or service. Customers with this style might agree that this is vital to getting things right, even if the two of you get bogged down in analysis. But for customers with the "I" style, your cautious pace may feel dry, sapping their natural energy.
Everyone has a unique blend of DISC-based characteristics. The key to a successful relationship lies with the service provider's ability to identify its customers' styles and adapt to meet their needs. When it comes to selling, a truly great professional has to connect by understanding the temperament of each customer. Using the DISC model helps you to quickly identify, understand, and adapt so you can connect better with your customers-which is more than you'll ever get out of a Magic 8-Ball.
About the authors: Jeffrey Sugerman, Ph.D., is president and CEO, and Mark Scullard, Ph.D., is the director of research, at Inscape Publishing. Contact them at 763-765-2222.