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You’ve made your sales plan for the year. You’ve filled your pipeline. You have your scripts ready for customer calls and meetings. You know your service offerings inside and out. Yet the same preparation, does not always lead to the same outcome for every customer. There are many reasons for this, but one major factor is the personality and communication style of the decision maker.

There are different personality profile systems out there, but one of the simplest to understand is DISC. The DISC Personality Profile breaks down visible personality and communication traits into four basic styles:

  • D (Dominant) – D Styles are Decisive and Direct. They are task oriented and move at a fast pace. Their strengths include administration, leadership and determination. They dislike inefficiency and indecision, and their dominant fear is being taken advantage of.
  • I (Influencing) – I Styles are Outgoing and all about Relationships. They are people oriented and move at a fast pace. Their strengths include persuasion, influencing, and enthusiasm. They dislike routines and complexity, and their dominant fear is rejection.
  • S (Steady) – S Styles are Steady and Stable. Like I’s, they are people oriented; however, they move at a slower, more contemplative pace. Their strengths include listening, teamwork, and follow through. They dislike insensitivity and impatience, and their dominant fear is loss of security.
  • C (Compliant) – C Styles are Compliant and all about the Details. They are task oriented and move at a slower, more contemplative pace. Their strengths include planning, creating systems, and orchestration. They dislike disorganization and impropriety, and their dominant fear is criticism.

All people are a combination of all four styles with certain styles more strongly expressed. This will affect how they work, communicate, and even how they collect information and make purchasing decisions regarding winter services. There are several good DISC assessments out there to determine your own style; however, in a sales situation you won’t have a personality test to administer before speaking to a potential client.

Good news, there are ways you can recognize these personality styles in decision makers and adjust your communication style to successfully sell snow and ice services.

Selling to a “D” – In conversation, they will dominate the discussion, even talking over others to make their point. In written communication, they are short, business like, and task focused. They won’t make attempts to create personal closeness, and they will ask pointed questions to understand the big picture. They’re fast-paced and decisive, focused on getting to the goal as fast as possible. They want to decide without a lot of fluff and extra details. They may challenge you in the process, so be ready and get to the bottom line quickly.

Selling to a “I” – In conversation, they will tell stories, drawing parallels to other situations and experiences. They are animated, frequently talking with their hands. In writing, they will spin a story around the point of interaction, always looking to build and maintain relationships. They may apologize if you mention they overlooked a detail. They key point with I’s is they’re all about relationships, with a goal of achieving a positive relational environment. They will consider the impact that their purchasing decision has on their social status with others. They are optimistic and if they like you, they’ll want to buy from you; however, you need to close the deal then because their focus can shift quickly, leading them to buy from the next person they like.

Selling to a “S” – In conversation, they will be positive and friendly. They may ask a speaker to reiterate their point to ensure understanding. In writing, they will ask for specifics and clarity on what they have been asked to do, including asking about due dates and clarifying follow through. They are team players who want to do right by everyone, so they will consider how their purchasing decision impacts those around them. Their end goal and focus is stability. They will confer with others to make decisions. Be a sounding board for their concerns and be willing to talk to others to help put them at ease. They will move at a slower pace compared to Ds and Is.

Selling to a “C” – In conversation, they will crave specific details and exact numbers and facts. They are process and timeline focused, and they will ask many detail-oriented questions. In writing, they will frequently use numbers and bullet points to structure their communication. They may create a timeline and focus on follow up. They can become annoyed if someone asks a question about information that was already provided (ie – they didn’t read the e-mail carefully). They are all about being correct; therefore, they do not want to make the wrong decision and will consider ALL the facts and information before deciding. Have patience and be well prepared with information for them. Be willing to move at a slower pace.

Now that you’re familiar with each of DISC styles and how to recognize them in others, what do you do? The key is to be intentional about overcoming your natural communication reaction. Most of us prefer to communicate in our preferred style; however, to achieve maximum sales success, push yourself to communicate in the style your potential client prefers. If you’re naturally an “I” and selling to a “C”, make sure to review your communication to provide exact facts and figures. If you’re an “S” and selling to a “D”, know your main point and get to that quickly. It may feel unnatural, even scary, but the payoff is worth it. Imagine if you grow your business by better learning to communicate with and serve a variety of clients. Better sales are possible as you expand your “DISCussion skills”.

Evan Tachoir is a Recruiter and Human Resources Professional with Snow and Ice Management Company of PA, based in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also a Certified DISC Personality Profile Consultant