Success in sales is often determined by how well sales professionals interact with their clients and prospects. Top sales people are confidently self-aware and able to communicate their sales pitch with little stress or pressure. These successful professionals not only understand their own DISC style but also understand the DISC types of others. Their ability to effectively relate, communicate and influence is crucially important when selling and creating relationships with clients and prospects. They understand how they need to behave and interact in order to be successful.
Characteristics of a Good Salesperson
Any person with any DISC style can have a successful sales career. They first need to gain self-knowledge and understanding. They also need to understand how to read and respond to the priorities of others. We first need to master the skills that help us build rapport and understanding with our clients and prospects to be sure we can interact at a level they are engaged and comfortable with. A DISC Assessment can be exceptionally useful to enhance our skills in this area.
Use of DISC Assessments combined with a development program will help sales professionals learn to draw on all the DISC styles. Sometimes a salesperson needs to embody an I style to generate excitement about a product. Other times they need to demonstrate to an S style that they are sincere in their willingness to provide support and security. When interacting with a C style they may need to ensure they have all the details and facts to make a convincing argument. When communicating with a D stye they need to be prepared to be direct and to the point, in order to close the sale.
Learning to recognise the sales of your prospect client or buyer is only half of the sales equations. Successful sales professionals also need to know how to quickly adjust their own behaviour to different situations. If your sales staff cannot adapt to different buyer styles they will not be as successful as they can be.
There is no Auto-Pilot option in Sales
One mistake sales professionals can make when modifying their behaviour is to make general assumptions too quickly about their client or prospects behaviour. We often stereotype different job roles with different DISC styles. For example, we believe that every Business Leader is a D style or every Accountant is a C-style prospect. While it may be true that a lot of people in these professions will have DISC styles that naturally suit the nature of their job, some will not. Therefore we cannot automatically assume their DISC Style.
Although it can be easy to fall back into comfortable ways of doing things, we need to remember this will not work with every client or prospect. We need to get out of our comfort zone for some sales projects. This will take awareness, discipline, and practice. However when selling we must avoid auto-piloting our behavioural modifications due to generalisations.
Roadblocks to Behavioural Modification
One of the most considerable challenges sales professionals face is pressure. Sales people often have a raft of KPI’s and targets they have to reach. Therefore, the pressure to close the sale increases. When we are under pressure we are using a lot of energy which can be very draining. When we feel pressured it becomes harder to modify our behaviour and eventually we revert back to our natural DISC style.
Whenever we feel under any stress or pressure it is important for us to stop and take a breath and be mindful of how we are behaving in the current situation. We need to remember how we react under pressure and continue to modify our behaviour based on the product we are selling or the client or prospect we are selling to.
Is Extended DISC necessary for Sales Success?
Success in sales does not depend entirely on a DISC assessment. However this will provide you and your employees with a valuable development resource. The DISC assessment can be used to take proactive steps to help an employee understand their strengths and weaknesses. As well as how they need to adjust their style to effectively interact with others. Ultimately a DISC assessment can help a sales professional to succeed and thrive.
Selling is a tough profession. Those who are not motivated or fulfilled by sales can easily divert their attention to other tasks. FinxS Sales Excuse Index® tells us if we’re on top of our game or lacking in focus.
Having focus is essential in sales. We are more likely to succeed when we spend our time on activities that produce results and develop business potential. However, there are times we procrastinate or prefer to focus our energy on non-sales related tasks. From analysing previous sales results, preparing for the next call, to finalising presentations, salespeople who do not know how to shift their focus or become bogged down in the sales process, will not achieve maximum results.
What is the FinxS Sales Excuse® Index?
The FinxS Sales Excuse Index® is based on the answers from the FinxS Sales Competence questionnaire. The FinxS Sales questionnaire calculates an Excuses Index® by providing the respondent with possible choices that would lead to the avoidance of sales related activities. The Excuse Index® measures a person’s tendency to look for excuses or distractions. The lower the Excuse Index® percentage is, the more likely the person is to ignore non-sales activities and instead focus on actions that directly produce sales results. On the other hand, the higher the result, the more likely a person is to look for excuses.
The current average Sales Excuse Index® of salespeople in Australia 37%. This means the average sales professional spends 37% of their time on non-sales related activities and 63% of their time focused on the sales process. If a salesperson has a lower Sales Excuse Index® they are more likely to focus directly on sales related activities.
The Sales Excuse Index® is a great place to start when reviewing the Sales Competence results. If one of your sales people has a higher than average Excuse Index®, this could be an indicator that additional support, coaching or training may be needed.
What is a high Sales Excuse Index®?
If a sales professional has a higher than average Excuse Index®, a great cause of action is to eliminate distractions. Clarity, focus and concentration are essential to personal management. Brian Tracey and co-author, Michael Tracey of Unlimited Sales Success recommend creating clear goals, if you are clear about what you want to accomplish and focusing on doing one thing at a time, you can produce up to 5x the amount of the average person. Such discipline can dramatically increase productivity.
However, a high Excuse Index® score is not always an indicator of sales ability. A sales professional could have other responsibilities tied to their role, which means they cannot focus directly on sales all of the time. For example, a Sales Manager may receive a high Excuse Index® score. This reflects their position as manager rather than as a sales professional who is focused only on sales tasks.
What is a low Sales Excuse Index®?
A person with a low Excuse Index® is likely to minimise distractions and focus soley on activities that directly produce sales related outcomes.
Sales Excuse Index® for Teams
The Sales Excuse Index® is a powerful tool to identify the potential of each team member. It can also be used to calculate an average Excuse Index® across a sales team. A team with a low average Excuse Index® score can signal a productive successful sale team. However, if the average Excuse Index® is higher than expected, this could highlight a need for training and development. Understanding the average team Sales Excuse Index will help managers recognise whether they need to develop the efficiency of their teams.
Good salespeople understand the importance of focus. A team comprised of sales professional that are motivated to achieve sales tasks are more effective in achieving the desired goals. Regular workplace sales training and coaching are vital to keep your sales professionals up-skilled and motivated. FinxS Sales Excuse Index® is a great starting point to recognise where to focus development needs.
The Extended DISC model is easily applied to sales due to its simplicity and accuracy. Using Extended DISC theory in sales allows sales professionals to quickly and easily identify customer styles and adapt the sales pitch to their behavioural style. Imagine knowing exactly how to communicate with your prospect to achieve a positive response, or understanding how to motivate your prospect towards a sale. Using DISC theory, we can pick up on cues to help tailor our approach and close the sale.
People prefer to buy from people they trust or who behave like them. For this reason, influencing and selling skills are important to the sales process. Extended DISC helps us to better understand our preferred way to interact and how to flex our behavioural styles to better approach our customers.
For example D Styles are the most assertive style, they are strong-willed and direct. Whereas S Styles are the most calm, they are careful and patient. Being able to pick up on these cues helps us to build rapport, quickly understand and communicate with our clients.
Using these cues we can also communicate with the appropriate tone, speed and rhythm based on the person we are interacting with. Small details such as tone or word choice ensure trust and rapport between sales professionals and prospects.
Communicating with the Styles
It is essential that we know how to speed read people to understand what motivates the prospects buying decisions. Speed reading our prospect is one thing, but adjusting our own styles to influence others is even more important. The first step to effectively flex our behavioural style to suit each individual customer is to understand our own behavioural style.
Understanding how we naturally prefer to communicate allows us to identify our prospects dominant behavioural style and adapt our own to match that person. For example, if you are an S Style person selling to a D Style Customer, you may need to speed up and stay focused on the task and facts rather than people and details.
When communicating with the D styles, ensure your body language is bold and eye contact direct. To communicate with I styles, ensure your body language and voice emit positive energy. Approach S styles in a warm and relaxed way, with a soft tone of voice. When communicating with C styles, make your body language reserved and sit through the silences while they think.
Motivate Buying Decisions of Prospects
Most salespeople focus on selling their products or services through the sharing of information and identifying potential pain points and benefits. These are great techniques to employ in the sales process. However, one area is often overlooked and that is how the potential customer makes their buying decisions. This is getting down to the nitty gritty and the psychology of sales behaviours.
If you want to take your sales skills to the next level, you do need to get familiar with Extended DISC methodology and the why or how of it all. We often believe prospects make their buying decisions the same way we do, however, this is simply not the case. Something to keep in mind is how you can make the decision making process easier for your prospect. Keep them interested and they will be motivated to ask questions, these are buying signals.
With an understanding of DISC theory we can build strategies to motivate our prospects to make buying decisions. For example, D styles prefer direct and short interactions. If you’re a D style, you probably never reached this point in the article. The first few lines were the make or break. On the other hand C styles need a lot of supporting information, evidence and statistics. If you are C style you’ve read this article a couple of times and have completed your own research to ensure what we have written is true! (p.s. C styles, check out our validation study!).
The Extended DISC Model is an invaluable tool to help improve communication with prospects and customers. Knowledge of the DISC styles helps us to understand how to communicate in the most efficient and effective way possible, to a range of different people. These skills can be used at any, or every, stage of the selling process; lead generation, first contact, closing and support. Maximise on Extended DISC theory to enhance your chance at closing the sale!
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged at work. So, what if there was a way to increase employee engagement and increase overall productivity? Everyone’s heard about DISC profile assessments, but many do not realise what a valuable resource they can be when it comes to engaging a workforce. Behavioural assessments, such as Extended DISC, provide excellent insights to help better understand and connect more effectively with their workforce, raising engagement and productivity.
What is Employee Productivity?
The classic definition of productivity in economic terms is the measurement of output that comes from units of input. In the workplace, this might convert to how much we can achieve in our 8 hour day, how many goals or targets can we successfully hit? For those of us who pursue increased productivity, we aim to get more done in less amount of time. We want to stay organised and focused on handling the flood of information. There are many tools we can utilise to achieve all those goals, including behaviours that help us manage all of the demands to keep getting stuff done!
Why is Productivity Important in the Workplace?
Employees are invaluable assets of a company. Productivity levels can affect company revenue, moral, employee motivation and customer service. A company that invests in its employees should expect to get a return on investment through their employees’ productivity.
When employees are highly productive, the company’s revenue can increase, which results in the company growing and bringing in more business. When employees have high levels of productivity, the company achieves its goals of investing in them.
Employee productivity can also help motivate teams and boost morale, leading to a better company environment. A highly productive employee can help motivate other individuals to achieve their goals and increase overall confidence. Highly productive businesses have happy and dedicated employees that form the basis of the successful organisation.
Productive employees have enormous benefits for customer service. A highly productive customer service team provides speedier and high-quality customer interactions compared to unproductive individuals. Excellent customer service can increase brand and customer loyalty, which can also bring in further business and revenue for a company. A loyal customer is more likely to share their experience with others, which is a marketing advantage resulting from high levels of productivity.
Value of Using a DISC Assessment
Using an Extended DISC assessment can help uncover valuable insights about an individual. DISC describes why and how people behave the way they do. DISC identifies four unique behavioural styles, though most people are a mix of 2-3 of these styles.
Behavioural styles are easy to identify. Having the ability to recognise an employee’s particular style can help equip a leader or manager to effectively engage and motivate their workforce, leading to higher levels of productivity.
How to Increase Productivity of the DISC Styles
Do: Remember to occasionally slow down to avoid mistakes, consider others to keep them motivated and driven, set performance levels you are satisfied with to avoid burnout
Don’t: Make snap decisions, loose focus by doing too many things at one time, forget “unimportant,” small details.
Do: Start activities and tasks immediately – try not to procrastinate, focus on one thing at a time, review your schedule and plans – are they too realistic or too optimistic?
Don’t: Forget to follow through, shift focus to next exciting project too soon, become distracted by socialising
Do: Try to increase the speed of work, start activities and tasks now – no hesitation, learn to re-prioritise as plans and situations change
Don’t: Confuse ‘doing work’ with results, forget to delegate and share the workload, try to please everyone
Do: Prioritise tasks to identify tasks that do not need immediate attention, be proactive – don’t wait for others to act, focus on doing the right things – not doing things right.
Don’t: Aim for perfection every time, sometimes good is enough, loose the big picture, forget to include others.
Have you ever wondered why some people react opposite to others and why you find it necessary to approach different people in entirely different ways?
The world’s most successful business managers use behavioural assessment tools to help them understand what makes their team members tick..
Understanding people is perhaps our most challenging management task simply because excellent communication is fundamental to success. Every one of us has a different behavioural style, and we have all made ourselves what we are. Already in our childhood, our parents, relatives and friends have “done their best” to help us form our personalities.
We have, however, psychologically made all the decisions concerning the formation of our personalities by ourselves. Most of these decisions have been made in our unconscious mind without us even realising it. For this reason, we are not always aware of the full potential our personality provides.
Behavioural Assessment Tools
There are numerous behavioural assessment systems promoted in Australia. Many of these are based on the DISC theory, which was developed in the 1920s by Carl Jung. Jung described people based on four characteristics: Dominance (D), Intuition (I), Steadiness (S) and Compliance (C).
The varying degree to which people exhibited these characteristics was plotted on two axes. A person who uses all five senses is plotted to the left of the axes. Such an individual could be classified as more thoughtful, reasoning, thorough and considered, requiring proof and needing to be persuaded. The more to the right the style was, the more this showed a person who wants to progress quickly, for whom variety and change are essential and to who risk-taking is more natural.
William Moulton-Marston further developed the work of Jung in the 1940s and 1950s. He defined a four-dimensional behavioural map, and as a result, the four-quadrant thinking of human behaviour was developed. DISC Theory is still popular and used in management, sales and leadership training techniques. A few variations of the theory are still promoted that use eight or sixteen categories of behavioural styles. The over-simplification of behaviour and its classifications have proven to be a weakness of these systems.
In the 1990s, a comprehensive “customer-driven” toolset was developed in Finland. The idea behind the tool was that it could be used in all human resource activities, not only on an individual but also at the team and organisational levels. This system, known as Extended DISC, has been proven internationally and is used by many of the world’s most successful organisations.
Extended DISC is the world’s fastest-growing assessment system. The system is used in over 60 countries and is available in 75+ languages. This is an essential factor considering today’s diverse workforce and the number of people who do not have English as their first language. Gender-neutral language options are also available.
Conducting Behavioural Assessments
So how does one go about conducting an Extended DISC Profile assessment?
There are two main types of assessment – assessments of individuals and groups.
We will confine ourselves to the assessment of individuals, although Extended DISC has tools that are invaluable in organisational situations.
The best way of conducting a behavioural assessment is through the use of a tried and tested assessment tool such as Extended DISC, which is the world’s foremost assessment tool. It does not assess a person’s intelligence, nor does it classify people as good or bad. Instead, it builds behavioural profiles, which provides information about an individual’s behaviour. Including their natural way of communicating, their motivators and their ideal working environment.
What we learn from the Extended DISC Profile
There are no good or bad people – there are only different people!
The Extended DISC report explains in a clear, concise, easily read format with graphics the natural behavioural style of the person completing the questionnaire. We can all make ourselves better human beings by understanding ourselves better and by identifying the strengths and weaknesses in our behavioural style. The Extended DISC report does precisely that.
The report explains how to identify different behavioural traits in other individuals and how we should address and respond to them once we know their behavioural style.
The Extended DISC Profile is based on the unconscious and allows the comparison of a person’s conscious behavioural style to a person’s unconscious behavioural style.
The Extended DISC profile does not report on what we already know about someone, or what someone knows about themself, (which is what virtually every other system is based on). We can also identify if a person is: comfortable in their work role, under pressure, feeling insecure, frustrated or feels the need to adjust to a role outside their comfort zone.
The Value of the Information Provided
Extended DISC reports help match people to their ideal role and help them understand their strengths and weaknesses. The profiles also help people understand why there are certain situations in which they are comfortable or uncomfortable. The report can help explain why some tasks take more energy for people to perform while other jobs seem so easy, taking much less energy.
Knowing these things has, of course, many advantages. As an employer, you can be confident that you appoint the best-suited people to any given role and that you can identify potential leaders for your business.
An Extended DISC report can help individuals to focus on areas they need to develop and help them understand why they react to different people in different ways.
For a business owner, it provides valuable information on the unconscious behavioural style of a person who may be challenging to communicate with. Best of all, once you know what motivates them or what can be intimidating to them, you can help them perform at their best — providing them with the opportunity to work in a role which would be the most rewarding for them.
Let me ask you a question: What’s the one thing you can do in the next 12 months that will dramatically impact sales?
I mean, if you really thought about it, what’s causing you the most trouble in your sales efforts? Don’t worry. I can wait for you to come up with an answer.
Questions like that make you think. Any time you ask your own prospects to reflect on their issues, challenges, and priorities, it takes a while for them to formulate the answer.
But if you’re like most sellers, silence drives you crazy. Imagine you’re talking with a prospective customer and there’s a brief lull in the conversation. I bet you jump right in to fill it. Am I right?
A Whopper of a Sales Mistake
Research shows that the average salesperson, after asking a question, waits no more than 2 to 3 seconds before rephrasing it, answering it themselves or moving on to another topic.
My own experience shows that people have NO idea they’re doing this. Even a couple seconds of silence is unbearable. They feel compelled to start talking again.
The Power of Silence on Sales Calls
Let’s talk about what’s lost because of the lack of silence.
Here’s the first question again: “What is the one single thing that you or your company could do in the upcoming 12 months that would dramatically impact your sales?”
That’s a provocative question. Prospects can’t respond with a simple pat answer. Instead, they stop and think, “Hmmmm. What’s really hurting our sales? What could we do differently here to drive more business?”
A flurry of ideas pop into their minds:
- Leads! We desperately need better quality leads.
- New products would help.
- Our salespeople need sales training.
- And all this sales technology – I’m not even sure what impact that could have right now but everyone says it’s the way to go.
But all that thinking still hasn’t produced an answer. The salesperson asked for “one single thing,” not a litany of responses. Now prospects need to quickly ascertain which idea would have the maximum impact.
That’s what you want them to do. The beauty of a provocative question is that when prospects answer, you learn a whole lot about what’s going on in their organisation, what the big challenges are, the prospect’s perspective on the issues and so much more.
But they can’t think of all that in just two or three seconds. They need much longer to ponder the question, to play around with it in their mind and to sort through their options.
In fact, research shows people need 8-10 seconds to formulate the start of their answer. Once they get talking, they come up with more ideas, firm up their thinking and gain additional clarity.
So when you cut them off at only 2-3 seconds, you lose in more ways than you can imagine:
1. You miss the benefit of your questions.
If you’d just kept your mouth shut a little bit longer, you’d have found out so much more. You might learn what they’ve already done to try to address these challenges. You might find out who the major players are, who would be involved in any change initiative or what your competitors are doing.
2. It’s harder to sell.
When you don’t learn all this info, you don’t know how your offering can make the biggest difference to your prospect. It’s virtually impossible to align your value proposition, presentations or proposals with their primary business initiatives or most urgent priorities.
3. You’re viewed as self-serving.
Even worse, when you quickly jump in, prospects think you’re self-serving and only interested in selling to them. (Isn’t that what you think when salespeople seem so eager to talk, not listen?) Even worse, when you fail to establish a positive relationship, prospects won’t meet with you again.
All this happens because you can’t wait at least 8 seconds before jumping in to fill the silence.
The value of silence in selling is rarely talked about. Mostly people focus on what they’re going to say, how they’re going to wow their prospect with their depth of knowledge or their well-rehearsed “pitch.”
Instead, I suggest that you try a bit more silence. Here’s how to achieve that:
- Plan some provocative questions ahead of time. This frees up your mind and enables you to really focus on your prospect.
- When you’re talking with a prospect, after asking your question, lean back and start counting to yourself. “One thousand and one … one thousand and two … one thousand and three..” Go all the way up to “one thousand and eight.” This keeps you from interrupting—which is why you have to do it.
- If you hit “one thousand and ten” and still don’t have a response, then it’s time to rephrase or interject something. But not before.
At first you’ll be absolutely miserable doing this. (This is the voice of experience talking!) Nothing seems harder. You’ll squirm and be dying to jump in. Don’t do it! Keep counting silently to yourself.
Ultimately, your prospect will start talking. You’ll learn a whole lot more. You’ll strengthen your relationships. They’ll think you’re smarter, more credible and more caring. And you’ll increase your sales.
Silence is powerful. Give it a try!