When I speak to business owners or VPs of Sales and/or Marketing, our conversations almost always lead to a discussion about their sales and marketing strategies. Often, I find them (especially owners of small businesses), are focusing their strategies in only one area. And, not surprisingly, they are usually targetting customers the way the owner believes customers want to be reached. That’s when I ask them this simple question, are you losing 75% of your sales opportunities?
Here’s the principle behind this opinion. If you are selling to everyone the same way, you could be losing 75% of your sales. It’s a statistical fact. Because almost everyone falls into one of four behavior styles, if we do not adapt our approach to that of the prospect, we are likely losing out on real opportunities.
Behavior Styles 101
Let me explain just a little about behavior styles. There are numerous assessments on the market. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to use the DISC assessment. The DISC assessment has been around for years. Essentially it rates people on two continuums, People-Oriented vs. Process-Oriented and Outgoing vs. Reserved. Now people use a variety of different words to describe these two continua, but it forms a 2×2 matrix. And most people fall into one or two quadrants, with one being your primary behavior and the other secondary. In some cases, a person has one and only one behavior style. And in other cases, people “straddle the line” and carry traits of 2 or even 3 behavior styles. But, in general, the majority of people have one primary style.
In DISC we give terms to describe the quadrants. Others use birds, animals, colors and other ways to describe them. The D stands for “Director” or “Dominant”. The “I” stands for “Influencer”. The “S” stands for “Steadiness”. And the “C” stands for “Compliant”. There are many stereotypes for these styles. Ds are often in leadership roles (CEO, President, COO). People with I as their primary style are often in sales or training. People with the S behavior are often in HR, are teachers or therapists. And Cs are often engineers, accountants or IT professionals. (Note that all of these are stereotypes, so there are obvious exceptions to every case).
Why Can’t I Sell My Way?
The natural inclination of every person is to act the way you want to be treated. If you are a “High I”, meaning you enjoy people and interaction, you are going to love networking. You are going to enjoy a long conversation. When that 30-minute coffee meeting goes to over an hour, you are fine with it. That’s because you enjoy the interaction with others. But if your client is a “High D”, and the president of a company you are selling to, he will be put off by your lack of attention to your committed timetable.
Every behavior style has a preference. For example, people with the behavior style D just want to be presented with the facts. They aren’t interested in a lot of chit-chat. Give them the facts and demonstrate how your service or product is going to help make them successful! Spending too much time on what you did over the weekend will turn them off. High Ds also want to call the shots. So it is important to give them choices. If they feel like they negotiated a better deal, they will be more likely to go along with it because they felt like they are in control.
Other behavior styles have their own preferences. For example, people who are primarily Cs want to analyze lots of data. If you are going to state any facts about your product, you better be able to back it up with data and facts. S-style people are going to take their time and not rock the boat. Do not present them with radical proposals that will shake things up too much.
So, you see, you need to be able to adjust your approach based on the style and inclinations of the person. Don’t focus the approach on what you want, but on what they prefer.
Figuring out what they are
If you know the person and have had some interaction with them, you can probably size them up with a little practice. Think through two axes I spoke of earlier. Are they people-focused or process focused? In other words, when talking about a decision, are they truly more concerned about the impact on their people, or the impact on their business process and bottom-line. On the other axis, do they seem outgoing or reserved? When in conversations do they tend to want to talk about a lot of things or do they play it “close to the vest”.
Another method is listening to what they talk about. High Ds will talk about company performance. They will often use sports analogies because they love competition. A high I will want to talk about personal things (how’s your family, how was your weekend). People with high S will also ask about personal things, but will likely be more compassionate and will often listen and want to dig deeper with you. A high C is going to be more reserved and only want to talk business on a factual level.
A fun method of assessing people is by looking at their workspace. A high D will almost always have awards and diplomas prominently displayed. They will love the corner office and want to have the most prestigious looking office. A high I is almost always going to have a cluttered desk. They are going to have motivational posters or sayings on their wall or desk. You’ll likely see a team picture as well (golf outing, Christmas party, etc.). A high S will have family photos on their desk. A high C will have a very clean desk with little personal items displayed.
Tailor it For Them
So, are you losing 75% of your sales opportunities? Remember who is selling to who. You are there to serve them. So once you have assessed what their primary style is, tailor your approach to fit their style. This is not always easy and requires us to get out of our comfort zone.
But the evidence is overwhelming. One of my clients put this to work and saw an immediate impact on his business. He closed a six-figure deal that he felt he would never have gotten before. He won it because he recognized the client was a high D and that his typical multi-page presentation with the lengthy proposal would never work. Therefore, he succinctly got to the point and gave the owner of the company a few options. Consequently, he closed the deal on the spot! And he recognized that utilizing DISC in this way would be life-changing to his business.