Adapting Your Style
Many of us have taken a behavioral style inventory at some point in our careers. While the intent of these inventories may differ based on why we are taking it, most of the time they are to improve communication between people of different styles.
Our organization uses DISC to measure Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. The profile that results illustrates our behavioral style and a little more about what makes us tick. The assessments are usually very accurate, and knowing the styles of others helped us communicate better. For instance, someone who has high steadiness will be more patient going through details while someone with high dominance wants the facts and wants to make a decision now.
Even if you don’t use a tool like DISC with your customers (it would be very difficult to get them to all take an assessment, I’m sure!), there are characteristics people display that can help you to make a quick assessment as to a possible style, and how to alter your style a bit to optimize communication (and maximize the sale).
People with high Dominance (D) like a challenge, and are usually risk-takers. They like to make decisions quickly based on concise information. They usually are very direct in their approach, are task-oriented, and portray high self-confidence. When selling to a D, giving them the key benefits and other information concisely is important. Burying them with words or pulling out the 100-slide PowerPoint definitely isn’t the path to success when working with someone of this profile.
In our industry, there are a lot of people with high Influence (I). These are the “people people”—those you see at a tradeshow who jog down the aisle to hug the person they just saw at the last tradeshow a few weeks ago. They value relationships, and are usually enthusiastic and optimistic. When you’re working with a high I, give them a combination of concise information (or you’ll wind up in their office chatting all day) and benefits as they relate to people while helping your customer look good.
Customers with high Steadiness (S) value cooperation and stability. They tend to be very good listeners and are systematic. In working with them, listening to their needs (the needs of the organization, not their personal needs, as they tend to put those last) is key. Coming back to them with solutions that support those needs and drawing out benefits that the people they work with will see is important. Rushing through a quick presentation and then asking for the sale will not bring you success.
The behavioral style with the highest analytical thinking is Conscientiousness (C). These people thrive on accuracy and love to collect and analyze data. Think of your customers who don’t like to make a decision but always want more information—they might be a C. They also are very structured. If you are late to a meeting with them, the reason won’t matter—you were late. To maximize your success with a C customer, providing a quality presentation with any data to support your solution will help bring a positive decision.
While people usually fit into one of the above styles, all have combinations of styles within. For example, I am a high I with D not far behind. I love people and love being with people, however, I can get impatient and want to move on to accomplish a task quickly. Hopefully by looking at some of the characteristics of the people you interact with, you can pick up on clues to help you in your future opportunities with them.