DISC Profiles in Selling: Understanding DISC can close a deal

31 Mar, 2017 / by Christina Bowser


Can you identify your prospect's preferred communication style? How does using DISC Profiles in selling make you more successful?

Sales professionals are well-trained in techniques such as prospecting and closing a deal. Regardless of how successful you already are, you can continue to develop skills that improve your sales interactions. One way is by focusing on DISC profiles in selling.
Cartoon about a salesman who could use training on Selling Using DISC Profiles

Why use DISC profiles in selling?

DISC profiles can help us better understand our preferred way to interact, but how can we focus on DISC profiles in selling? We need skills that help build rapport, quickly understand and communicate with our clients and prospects at a level they are engaged and comfortable. Thus, they are more likely to listen to us and close the deal. We can use the DISC tool to enhance our skills.

The DISC report provides supporting information about the different DISC styles and the person's DISC profile. In addition, there are specific tips on how to better interact with others. There are different types of DISC Sales Reports including ones for the sales professional, the sales manager, and the sales candidate. When you view the sales reports usage it's obvious that, along with leadership, it's one of the most popular content areas.

Sales is a competitive sport

Selling is a highly competitive field. The competitiveness is often more critical and pronounced than any other field. Sales professionals are constantly looking for a competitive advantage. When calling on a prospect you may only have once chance to move the sales process forward. If you don’t do well then the sales process is over and your competitor will come in and close the deal. Therefore, companies are wisely investing money and resources into developing their sales people.

Have you ever thought of comparing sales to sports? The sales person needs ongoing training and coaching to improve skills and level of play. Other sales people are doing everything they can to improve their techniques and skills to get ahead of you and win. Consider developing your skills with a professional or coach; just like an athlete. Selling is like a competitive sport.

DISC is an important tool for sales professional

A successful sales professional using DISC Profiles in sellingPeople often times fall into the sales profession. As college students, we are often trained in marketing, accounting, and business, but we have less or no emphasis on sales skills. Sales is a profession, just like a medicine. We expect our doctor to stay current and up-to-date; otherwise we would choose another doctor. We need the same professionalism for sales people. Sales professionals need to continually improve and stay on top of their game.

When we talk about using DISC in selling we need to recognize that DISC is just one aspect of becoming a better sales person. DISC is a critical tool for sales people to have in order to understand who their prospects are and how they sell.

Simple steps to incorporate DISC profiles into selling

DISC explains how we do things. When we talk in terms of selling, DISC helps explain how we sell. Once you understand the basics of DISC you can apply it in all areas of communication. These are the same 4 steps to effective communication that we focus on in any interaction, but we reframe it into the context of selling. Our clients like the ease in which we can transition this model to all aspects of communication.

The first step is to understand that there are different behavioral styles of prospects and clients. We cannot use the same selling style for everyone and be successful every time. The second step is to have a clear understanding of our own DISC selling style. Our style affects how we sell so we need to have a confident self-awareness. In addition to knowing our sales style, we also need to identify our least comfortable sales style. For example, if C-style is your least comfortable style then meeting a C-style prospect will be the most challenging and take the most energy from you. You will need to be laser-focused and at the top of your game.

Next is the third step, which is to identify the style of your prospect. Finally, the most important and fourth step is to knowing how adjust your selling style to close the deal. Remember, anytime we are modifying our behavior we will need to prepare and practice.

Enemies of Behavioral Modification

One of the greatest challenges that sales people face is pressure. The sales person feels the need to make a good impression and close the sale. Thus, the pressure increases. When you feel pressured then it becomes more difficult to modify your behavior. Whenever we feel any kind of strong emotions they will divert us from being present and mindful of how we are behaving. Strong emotions, including pressure, are the enemies of behavioral modification.

The main objective to combat pressure is to understand how we tend to show up under pressure, think of better ways in which we can modify our behavior, and then practice. We need to practice, practice, and keep practicing.

Assumptions and auto-piloting

Sales people make often assumptions too quickly or or make general assumptions that can get them in trouble. For example, when we are meeting an engineer we may assume we are meeting a C-style prospect. While it's true we find many engineers who are C-styles, but there are many of them are not. Don't assume.

Another assumption is that people make buying decisions the same way we make buying decisions. However, people have different ways of making buying decisions. You need more information and observation before you can make decisions about your prospects.

We must avoid auto-piloting our behavior. Sales people have comfortable ways of doing things, but those ways won't work with every prospect. We have to get out of our comfort zone. All of this awareness takes discipline, preparation, and practice. In long-term work relationships we have the opportunity to fix things when something goes wrong. However, when we are selling to a prospect we often have one chance, and one chance only.

Identifying the Prospect's DISC Style

DISC Global StatisticsDISC prospects are not the same. The DISC Global Statistics infographic shows overall distribution of DISC profiles. Let's say you are an I-style. If you sell only within your I-style comfort zone then you should be successful approximately 30% of the time. However, you may be leaving out 70% potential prospects. Leave your comfort zone and increase your potential prospects.

When identifying your prospect's DISC profile first look for consistent patterns of behaviors. What do they tend to about? How do they say things? You can observe their body language. Listen to their tonality. You need to recognize that the prospect is also feeling pressure, especially when the buying decision is the more expensive and important. When your prospect feels pressure, then you are more likely to be observing their natural style. Try and get the prospect out of their office or familiar space. You will find it easier to identify their natural style because they are not in their comfort zone and less likely to be able to modify their style.

Now that you have observed their behaviors, you can assess their primary DISC style. Are they more task-oriented or people-oriented? Are they more reserved or active? People are more likely to be a combination of styles which means they are comfortable with more styles. Another way to describe that is that there is one main DISC style that is uncomfortable for the prospect. Sometimes it is easier to focus and adjust according to the one style that is most uncomfortable for the prospect. Find out who they are not, adjust to that, and buy yourself some time to identify who they are. We know how important time is when selling to a prospect.

Tips for using DISC profiles in selling to the D-Profiles

When it comes to D-profile prospects we know they are decisive and fast-paced. What irritates D-profiles in sales situations is indecisiveness and inefficiency. Don't get in the way of the sale by giving too much information or impede their decision-making process. D-profiles want to be in control so it's important to have them feel control of the sales process.

D-profiles tend to test you. They want to find out if you are up for the challenge, otherwise they will lose respect. Stay toe-to-toe, earn their respect, and close the deal.

Tips for using DISC profiles in selling to the I-Profiles

I-profile prospects are very different from D-style prospects when it comes to selling. When I-profiles make buying decisions they base it on their fear social rejection. They will consider how the buying decision impacts their status with others. I-profiles are not detail-oriented. They are also highly optimistic. I-profiles may have every intention to buy from you at that moment...until they meet the next sales person. You need to secure their commitment to buy or potentially lost the sale.

Tips for using DISC profiles in selling to the S-Profiles

S-profile prospects make buying decisions based on the impact on those around them. They want to make the right decision for everyone. They will also want to talk over the details with someone before making the purchase. As a sales person, you can be supportive and patience, and even become their sounding board.

Tips for using DISC profiles in selling to the C-Profiles

The difference between S-profile prospects and C-profile prospects is the S-profiles make buying decisions based on the impact on others. C-profiles want to make the correct decision. They do not want to purchase the wrong product or service. They do not want to regret their decision or have others identify them as the person making the mistake. Therefore, they want to have as much information as possible in order to make the most informed decision. Regardless of your style, you must decide if you can be patient and prepared with facts and information to close the deal.

Final thoughts on using DISC profiles in selling

Understanding DISC in selling is an additional skill you can use to increase your sales proficiency, but you need to be aware and practice. Sales people can make the mistake of using DISC only at the beginning of the sales process. In other words, they may only use DISC to identify the prospect and build the initial relationship, but not further in the sales process. DISC should never leave the room. Always be mindful of your own DISC style, but remember the same is true for your prospect. Their DISC style will alway be present in the sales process as well. For example, keep DISC in mind when it comes down to looking at the money, moving forward, and making the final decision.

Sales is a competitive endeavor. In order to be the best, you need a coach and you need to put the effort into developing your skills. If you don't then someone else will step in.

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Christina Bowser

Written by Christina Bowser