Meeting People Using DISC

A Director for an international Direct Marketing company asked me to train her local reps to utilize Personality Styles to grow their business.  Theresa said that all her reps are “Very energetic, have a high level of enthusiasm, are setting lots of first appointments but their closing ration is lower than it should be”.  She asked me to teach them how to make their initial appointments more successful.  I’ve had a lot of experience training sales reps and quite often I find the problem lies in the fact that they are focused on themselves rather than being focused on the concerns and the needs of their prospect.  My job is to change their focus.

As her team members arrived at the workshop I practiced what I was planning to preach…..I focused on recognizing their Personality Style and interacting with each of them in their Personality Style’s Language.  Shortly into the session they took the DISC Assessment and we grouped them according to their Personality Styles.   I asked each group to write on a piece of paper where they thought my assessment would place me.  When they simultaneously held up their papers they were shocked to see each group had placed me in THEIR group!  Their question became “How did I do that?”

I explained that as I met each one of them I had allowed them to lead me into THEIR Personality Style.  We dissected what I had done:

Starting with the Handshake……

  • S will often use a “double clasp” handshake.  I “double clasp” right back.
  • An I will usually “pump” up and down several times.  I go with their flow, let them pump my hand as much as they want while I return their huge smile with a big grin of my own.
  • The C Personality often prefers a lot of space.  I respect THEIR desire for space and move back.  They are often very serious so I only smile at them if they smile at me.
  • A D handshake is a firm grasp, very little movement, they look you right in the eye.  With a D, so do I.

Then the Speech Pattern……

I demonstrated my normal conversation pace and intonation to give them a base for comparison.

  • I then greeted someone from the S group and gently mirrored them as we spoke.  I made certain my responses to their comments were personal in nature while my intonation was soft and slow.  The S commented they were very comfortable with me.
  • My next conversation was with a C.   It was very similar except my responses were far less personal and much more task oriented.  I also gave the C far more space than I gave the S , who prefers to stand close.  The C commented they were comfortable with me and added normally they need more time with someone to develop a sense of rapport.
  • While the D and I had a conversation similar in topic to that of the S and the C, it was obvious the natural pace of the D is faster, louder, with a quick and succinct feel to it.  I was as loud as the D and  kept pace with the D by making my comments far more concise and impersonal.  The D was very comfortable with me.  I asked the C’s, the I’s and the S’s if they would have been comfortable with me had I greeted them in “D” manner.  They all gave an emphatic NO!!
  • When speaking with the I our conversation was rapid, we interrupted each other and went down bunny trails!  We spoke in terms of people, not tasks, and the audience laughed as they watched me add dramatic hand movements to my comments, which is very common for an I.  The I, in typical fashion, loved me because he loved our conversation.  I asked the D to be honest in his reaction to the I conversation.  He said it would have driven him batty and he may have ended it quickly!

The audience saw that I hadn’t changed ME at all during my conversations.  I had simply changed my conversation style in order to suit the Personality Style of the other person.  They also began to understand that when you are unaware of the other person’s Style characteristics you may turn them off with some of the characteristics of your own Personality Style.

We continued the workshop by discussing how to quickly recognize each Personality Style, how to tailor your presentation to each Style and what specific words should be used to close each Personality Style.  We then ended the session with role playing.  The room was initially full of laughter but then everyone settled in and took their “assigned Style” very seriously.  They learned how little effort is required to make a subtle change for success with their delivery.  They also learned that a conversation with someone you don’t know well goes a lot smoother when you are speaking the other person’s Behavioral “language”.

Several months later I followed up with Theresa to see how the team was doing.  She was ecstatic to let me know the closing ratios had improved tremendously.  She shared some of the team’s comments:

“Applying DISC makes me tune into the other person rather than being worried about how I come across.”

“By approaching a meeting from THEIR point of communication rather than from MINE, I feel the pressure is off of me to “perform”.  Because I can sense they are comfortable with me I can relax and have a valuable conversation about their wants and needs.”

There’s no magic to this.  Most successful sales reps will tell you their success comes from understanding God gave them 2 ears and 1 mouth.  Focusing on DISC simply makes you remember that.

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