What is the Behavioral Quotient?
The behavioral quotient (BQ) is a measurement of behavioral intelligence, driven by the actions necessary to achieve desired outcomes. When specifically relating BQ to buyer behavior, it’s about understanding buyer personalities, how they execute in their role, and how they make decisions, as well as understanding how your own behaviors can influence outcomes. This is the key to successfully mastering your BQ in a sales environment.
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Understanding your own personality and learning to read your buyer’s personality will allow you to control your behaviors and sales conversations, and speak to what each unique customer truly cares about.
To learn more about the behavioral quotient, read this blog.
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The Primary DiSC Personality Types
We’ll break these down later. First, we’ll start with a high-level outline of each personality:
D: The Dominant Driver
i: The Influencer
S: The Steady Relater - team-oriented, go with the flow
C: The Cautious & Analytical
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Before we learn about these styles in-depth, I’m going to tell you how I learned about DiSC, and why it matters.
My Introduction to My Personality Type
Early in my sales career, I was a High i, which meant I loved to talk. I was expressive, enthusiastic, and I talked with my hands. I would walk away from a sales meeting, having talked for an hour straight, feeling on top of the world, and as if the meeting could not have gone better.
Of course, this wasn’t true. I was alienating direct, to-the-point D’s and C’s, while preferring fellow i’s and easygoing S’s. A sales meeting felt good when I got to talk the majority of the time and when I walked away with a new friend.
Luckily, a sales manager at my company spotted this from a mile away. He explained the four DiSC styles, and a lightbulb went off. I was losing deals by alienating buyers with my sales style. I needed to talk less, and allow my prospects to talk more.
I was the top sales rep at my company, but I was working 90 hours per week. I wanted to work smarter. So, I tasked myself with a higher revenue per sale and a higher close rate, using my newfound knowledge of how to align my selling style with my buyer’s buying style, both fueled by our personalities.
I learned how to master the sales conversation by speaking in my buyer’s language with exact word choice and tonality, matching and mirroring their physical movements, and adjusting my personality style to match theirs. I hit those goals—and you can, too.
Today, I’m going to share what I learned about the DiSC personalities in my sales journey. It is important to understand both your buyer’s and your own DiSC personality style, because each personality has an entirely different set of priorities and values. We often go into a conversation assuming that the customer prioritizes the same things as us when, in fact, that is rarely the case.
Using DiSC to Your Advantage
After reading this article, you should be able to:
- Understand your own DISC personality style.
- Identify and understand your buyer’s DISC personality style.
- Understand how your DiSC style is perceived by the buyer’s DiSC style.
- Begin to use DiSC to have successful sales conversations with every type of buyer, be more powerful as a salesperson, and drive better outcomes in your sales conversations.
Overview of The DiSC Personality Types
Identifying & Understanding Your Own DiSC Personality
As you read through these descriptions, think about your selling style and the things you prioritize when you work a deal. Chances are, you will identify most strongly with one, or possibly two, of these styles. For a more in-depth overview, you can take the DiSC evaluation.
The D Salesperson
- The ‘Dominant’ personality
- Sales style: Confident, assertive, and abrupt.
- Prioritizes: Results, the bottom line, and competency.
- Focuses on: Action, by creating a sense of urgency.
- Leaves the customer feeling: Like they will get the job done.
Simon Cowell is a classic ‘D’ personality.
The I Salesperson
- The ‘Influencer’ personality
- Sales style: Energetic, outgoing, personable, and fun.
- Prioritizes: Building enthusiasm, getting the customer excited, and building a relationship.
- Focuses on: Action, by inspiring the customer with their energy.
- Leaves the customer feeling: Energized to act.
Orpah is a classic ‘i’ personality.
The S Salesperson
- The ‘Steady Relater’ personality
- Sales style: Even tempered, accommodating, and agreeable.
- Prioritizes: Sincerity, showing they care, and building relationships.
- Focuses on: Showcasing the dependability of their offering by patiently taking the customer through the details.
- Leaves the customer feeling: Like they connected with someone who truly cares.
Frodo from ‘Lord of the Rings’ is a classic ‘S’ personality.
The C Salesperson
- The ‘Cautious & Analytical’ personality
- Sales style: Logical and methodical.
- Prioritizes: Quality, using facts and data to back up their claims.
- Focuses on: Showcasing the dependability of their offering by demonstrating accuracy and competency.
- Leaves the customer feeling: Confident in the data and details.
Spock from ‘Star Trek’ is a classic ‘C’ personality.
Questions About DiSC Personalities
Q: Can you have more than one of the personality styles at the same time?
A: Yes. Many people are a combination of two of these personalities. Usually, you’ll see combinations of two styles that are adjacent to each other in the circle, such as a D/i personality.
Q: Can your DiSC style change over time?
A: Yes, your style can certainly change over time, and many people will adjust their style to fit different roles. Personally, as I have moved into a leadership role, I have moved from an i to a D personality.
Q: Do most salespeople have a particular style?
A: Yes. Most salespeople are an i or D/i personality. The i is common in sales and it represents the energetic, relationship-building personality type that loves to talk.
Q: Can you have different styles in different settings? Is your personality style situational?
A: Yes. Some people have different styles in work settings than they do at home or with friends. Personally, while I am a D at work, I am more of an i/S at home, where there is less pressure for me to run the show.
Q: Are there salespeople in all 4 quadrants?
A: Yes, there are. However, some combinations are uncommon. For example, the i is the opposite of a C, and a D is the opposite of an S. However, a DS can exist - it’s just uncommon.
Next, we’ll go over how the DiSC personalities manifest in a buyer’s attitudes, and how they influence what each type of buyer wants from a salesperson.
Understanding What the Buyer Wants
The D Customer
- How they appear: Fast paced, outspoken, questioning, and skeptical.
- Top priority: Getting practical, concrete results that affect the bottom line.
- Wants to: Implement quickly.
- Wants you to: Be confident, capable, and able to deliver quickly. You should be able to demonstrate that you know your business well.
The I Customer
- How they appear: Optimistic, energized, and talkative.
- Top priority: Building enthusiasm and seeking options that are fun, engaging, and exciting.
- Wants to: Take dynamic adventures and jump on exciting opportunities.
- Wants you to: Establish a strong relationship with them. You should be interested in their life, while also sharing a personal side of yourself.
The S Customer
- How they appear: Patient, agreeable, and even-tempered.
- Top priority: Sincerity, patience, kindness, genuine concern, and empathy.
- Wants to: Be heard and develop a trusting relationship with their salesperson.
- Wants you to: Connect with them and build trust. Assure them that you and your offering are reliable and dependable.
The C Customer
- How they appear: Analytical reserved, and mindful.
- Top priority: Understanding the details and getting as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision and pick the highest-quality option.
- Wants to: Be certain they're making a wise choice and that you’re reliable.
- Wants you to: Be highly competent. You should be an expert in your solution, and offer proof, evidence, and, if possible, guarantees.
Uncovering a Buyer’s DiSC Personality
The quicker you find your customer’s personality style, the sooner you can pivot to be successful. There are a few tried-and-true ways to do this.
When You’re Already Acquainted
For the customer with whom you’re already a bit acquainted, it can be as simple as reflecting on your experiences with them.
- Is your customer fast paced and outspoken, or more cautious and reflective?
- Is your customer accepting and warm, or more questioning and skeptical?
If your customer is:
- Fast-paced/outspoken, and warm/accepting
Your customer is an i personality.
- Fast-paced/outspoken, and questioning/skeptical
- Your customer is a D personality.
- Cautious/reflective and warm/accepting
- Your customer is an S personality.
- Cautious/reflective and questioning/skeptical
- Your customer is a C personality.
The Easiest Question to Ask
Sometimes, you might know your customer, yet still not be totally sure where their personality fits into DiSC. We’ve found that asking your customer one simple question can reveal a lot about their personality.
The next time you speak to your customer, simply ask them how their day is going.
- If your customer gives you a short, concise, answer that’s a bit more colorful than the fact-driven reply of a C (possibly in a rough tone that indicates they aren’t worried about building rapport), your customer is a D personality.
- Your customer might reply with a long, wordy story about themself. If they use lots of adjectives, descriptions, and some hyperbole, and don’t ask how your day is going, your customer is an i personality.
- Your customer might give you a wordy warm answer, using language about the team and the company rather than “I” statements. If your customer does this, then asks how your day is going, your customer is an S personality.
- If your customer gives you a short, concise, and exact answer, using facts and data, your customer is a C personality.
Sending the First Email or Making the First Call
Of course, you won’t always have the advantage of knowing anything about your customer’s personality style. When you’re sending the first email or making the first call, you can usually discover your customer’s DiSC with these techniques.
First, Get on Their Sidewalk
When your customer responds to your first email, look carefully at their word choice, tonality, sentence length, and how much detail they give you.
Note that, if you get a short ‘no,’ it might not tell you much about their personality. It might just mean your email wasn’t good enough to get them interested. If your email is poorly written, more people will say no to you.
Before we analyze how your customer might respond, let’s make sure your email game is strong. Is your opening email short and concise? Is it all about the customer, and their pain points and problems? (Hint: it absolutely should be).
The quickest way to lose a buyer, regardless of their personality, is by sending an email with a long description of your product or service. Your email should be offering something of value to your customer’s unique situation. Watch this video on Objections, to learn more on this topic.
Imagine your customer is a stranger walking down the sidewalk. You want to get their attention, start a conversation, and hold their interest. Is screaming from across the street, waving your hands, and just being generally annoying and aggressive going to get you there?
Of course not. Your customer may run as fast as possible in the other direction. Instead, you need to get on their sidewalk by getting on the same side of the street and walking together to their destination, rather than screaming and yelling and distracting them.
Think about how you would strike up a conversation with a stranger when you’re in line at the grocery store. You might start by mentioning something you both have in common, giving them a compliment, or offering help if they appear to need it.
Now, use that approach to connect with your customer. Start your email with a simple question that opens a casual conversation. Don’t write a list of all the reasons your product is great, or ask them to make a big decision like carving time out of their day to meet with you, when they don’t know you yet. Simply try to connect with them, as a fellow human.
How Each Type of Buyer Responds
The D Buyer
- This customer will be standoffish and to-the-point. They will reply in a way that triggers you, making you feel like you need to hurry up and make the sale.
- Typically, the higher your buyer is in the organizational structure, the stronger their D personality traits.
The i Buyer
- This customer will likely agree to talk if you’re asking good questions that will make them want to open up. If you ask an open-ended question, they’ll likely spend three or more minutes giving you a wordy, expressive answer.
- As long as you continue to ask questions and make them feel heard, rather than talking about yourself and your solution, you’ll be able to continue the conversation.
The S Buyer
- Persistence pays off with the S customer, especially if you catch them on the phone. Typically, they will be agreeable and willing to set a meeting, because they won’t want to hurt your feelings.
- Keep in mind that, ultimately, this person is not likely to be the decision maker.
The C Buyer
- This customer will be short and concise in their reply, often using facts and data. They might be difficult to get on the phone.
- You will need to send thoughtfully crafted, powerful, high-quality questions to get more than one-word answers.
Carefully Monitor Your Reply
Now that you know what type of buyer you’re dealing with, your next steps are just as important as your opening email. What you do next can be the difference between crushing your quota and losing the buyer forever.
The D Buyer
- Whatever you do, don’t talk too much. To keep them interested, you should find ways to speak to urgency, getting the timeline rolling, and driving results as early as possible in the conversation. Focus on action and getting the desired outcome as soon as possible.
The i Buyer
- The key to the i customer is to get them talking. If, like many salespeople, you’re also an i, this customer may be challenging for you to win. Instead of doing all the talking, you’ll need to ask them lots of questions. Do everything you can to avoid talking over them, and make sure they feel heard.
The S Buyer
- An S customer needs to feel your empathy. Whatever you do, don't make them feel steamrolled by yet another pushy salesperson. You may need to slow down and spend time finding their hesitations. Ask them about their experiences with other providers, and what made the experience challenging or good. Find out what they would need to see to feel comfortable, and then give them that sense of comfort.
The C Buyer
- Don’t bother with excitement and enthusiasm with a C buyer. Instead, do your research and provide facts and figures. Once you get into a conversation about your business, they’ll expect you to be a wealth of knowledge (while also answering their questions concisely).
Use The TACO Approach
The TACO approach is particularly useful when you’re a little further into the sales process with your buyer, and when you are setting demos or meetings with multiple parties. This approach will help you determine the DiSC style of each person on the phone, while keeping the meeting on track (regardless of the mix of personalities involved).
TACO Stands For:
T - Time
A - Agenda
C - Collectively Decide
O - Outcome
At the beginning of a meeting, align with your customer(s) on the meeting timeframe by saying something like, “When we set this meeting, we agreed to 30 minutes. Does that still work for you? Do you have a hard stop? I ask so I can be sure to give you a few minutes of breathing room.”
- The D customer will appreciate this effort. They probably have another meeting they’re going to be running to.
- The i customer may not care about the time frame. They might be happy to chat all day.
- The S customer will have no objections, and probably doesn't have a calendar full of meetings (remember, this person is probably not a decision-maker).
- The C customer will appreciate this, and they’ll be counting the minutes as your meeting takes place, making sure you are able to deliver within the planned time frame.
Next, review the agenda with your buyer. This should go something like, “When we set this meeting, we agreed to discuss A, B, and C. Has anything changed? What would you like to discuss?”
- The D customer may not have anything to add to the agenda, because they’re just looking for the end result. They will probably say something like, “I don't know--you’re the one who reached out to us. I just want to know who you are and what you’re selling.”
- The i customer can easily hijack the meeting at this point. They will probably start telling you all about their problems and what matters to them. Acknowledge that you’ll cover the item they mentioned and add it to the top of the agenda, and get back to finishing the TACO.
- The S customer is going to make it easy for you by most likely agreeing with you on the agenda that you’ve outlined.
- The C customer will probably have a list of questions to address. They might say something like, “I need to know if it's going to work, the steps involved, what it's going to cost, and how much time it’s going to take us.”
After you’ve agreed on agenda items, let your customer know that you should be able to collectively decide if it makes sense to take next steps at the end of the call. Once you’ve completed your entire meeting agenda, complete this step and the next.
Clarify what the desired outcome of the meeting is, whether it’s scheduling the next meeting, switching the customer’s existing solution to yours, bringing in the decision maker, or any other next logical step in the progression of the deal.
Depending on how well you have tailored your approach to the customer’s personality, when you get to this step, your buyer might have one of these responses:
- The D customer will be relieved that you’re talking about next steps, and give you a clear answer on whether they want to move forward or not.
- The i customer might be uneasy if they feel you haven’t ‘earned’ the right to discuss next steps yet. This may happen if they don’t feel that they know you well enough.
- The S customer might also be uneasy. If they remain silent, it probably means they’re not ready. If they aren’t yet comfortable with you and your solution, they will feel concerned that you’ll be too pushy.
- The C customer will also be relieved that you’re outlining how to move into next steps and probably give you a clear answer. If they aren’t ready, they’ll continue to ask questions and seek evidence.
Now that you have the power of understanding DiSC personalities, put it to use! Challenge yourself to increase your close rate. You should now be able to close any type of buyer.
Track your progress, and spend 10 minutes at the end of each day assessing your conversations. Ask yourself where you applied your DiSC knowledge, and where you could have done better.
In time, it will come naturally, and you’ll get better outcomes from every conversation.
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MEET MARY GROTHE, THE CEO OF SALES BQ
Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B SaaS Sales Rep who after selling millions in revenue and breaking multiple records, formed Sales BQ®, an outsourced RevOps firm of fractional VPs of Sales, Sales Ops, and CMO's who serve companies across the nation by profitably rebuilding their sales & marketing departments and growing their revenue by focusing on BQ, the behavioral quotient, and proven inbound + outbound strategies.