Dec 142011

The DISC profile is your friend in a sales situation

In the 1920s an American psychologist developed a way of looking at the human character that can still be used today by sales people aiming to boost their conversion rate.  The system is called DISC profiling, which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.  Understanding where your prospect sits within the DISC profile can make a huge difference to you being able to ‘connect’ with their way of thinking and, as a result, make the sale.

Each person’s DISC profile is slightly different due to where they sit within the profile grid.  However, they will usually be one area that is predominant and this will show itself through  tell-tale signs and these are what a good sales person picks up on.  Let’s go through the 4 areas and show what they are and how you can use your knowledge of them to advantage.


If someone is a ‘High D’ (ie their predominant characteristic is Dominance) they will usually exhibit a desire to be in charge and giving the orders; conversely, they don;t like taking orders or not being in control.  As a result may entrepreneurs, business owners and managers show a high degree of D.  To other people they can often seem overpowering or arrogant as they are often not particularly good communicators and don’t interact particularly well.  High D’s are also impatient and don’t like detail.

If you’re trying to sell to a high D you will need to take on many of these tendencies yourself.  You need to match their power and arrogance with your own – not to make them feel inferior but just to demonstrate that you recognize and respect them but are not going to get steam-rollered by them.  You need to be confident too; any chinks in your armor and they will see through them immediately.

Don’t try to give them details about the product or service; stick to big picture points, emphasizing how they and their business will become more successful by buying your product.  Be blunt, be logical and be confident.


High I personalities are friendly (sometimes too friendly) and like to be popular.  They are usually very outgoing with lots of friends, chatty, and easily distracted.  Like High D’s they don’t like detail – but for different reasons;  High I’s can’t concentrate long enough to take in the detail because their mind is already on the next conversation they’re going to have with their pals.  Keeping them focused on the subject in hand can be difficult.

To sell to a High I they need to think of you as one of their friends.  Show them that you’re friendly, show them that you care and show them you have a sense of humor.  They will want to do what seems popular with others (social acceptance) so explain how others use the product and how popular it is.  As their focus is very loose don’t try to tie them down; talk about other things apart from your sales pitch, find out what they like and talk about that, even if you know nothing about it (“You do Tibetan upside down yoga?  Wow.  I know nothing about that but it sounds really exciting; tell me all about it!”).


As the name implies these are almost the direct opposite to the Is.  A High S is steady, methodical, calm and thoughtful.  Quick decision making is not one of their strengths and they don’t like radical or swift change.  People like High S’s but in a passive rather than active fashion because a High S just gets on with things in a quiet, productive and friendly fashion, without any drama.

Selling to a High S can be hard work.  They can’t be rushed, they will want lots of detail and they will want to spend quite some time making their decision before buying.  If you try to rush them then you’ve lost them.  Explain how the product or service you provide will be more of a gradual rather than sudden change to how they presently do things.  Be clear in explaining how the sales process will work,  explain to them when and how you will require a decision from them but listen out for their concerns and be willing to accede a little but remain firm and in charge.


High C’s like facts, figures and numbers (which is probably why a lot of Accountants and IFAs exhibit High C tendencies!).  High C’s like perfection and can sometimes create stress for themselves in trying to attain it.  They tend not to like things being left unfinished and often prefer working on their own as it gives them more control over the outcome.  Being so wrapped up in the detail they sometimes fail to see the bigger picture.

Selling to a High C is almost as hard as selling to a High S.  They can’t be pushed into a quick decision, they will want to know all the facts and figures and have time to weigh them up.  Skepticism about the ability of your product to do what you say will be high, as will their suspicion about you as a sales person.  As a result your sales process will be a long and detailed journey.  You will need to answer lots of questions, be very logical in your approach and be ready to explain in detail how the product will improve efficiency or quality.  Don’t try and makes friends with a High C, keep the relationship respectful but removed.

Now that you’re aware of the basic personality difference start looking and listening to people around you to see if you can work out what their dominant profile is.  Your aim should be to be able to make quite a quick assessment of someone you meet (within 5-10 minutes of meeting and talking about things in general) so that by the time you move into your sales pitch you have a good idea about how you need to react to make the sale.