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Psychology of Selling: 4 Personality Traits You Need to Know

People, you and your customers, your spouses, your neighbors and co-workers—everyone you know—tend to exhibit one of four traits based on a personality assessment (DISC) built by a number of psychologists dating back to 1928. They observed that people are either more outgoing or reserved, people loving or task oriented.


In referencing the DISC graphic, results, action and enthusiasm may describe the needs of those above the horizontal line, while quality, dependability and sincerity may describe those below the horizontal line. Task oriented folks are more likely to enjoy focusing on results, competency and quality, while people-oriented folks are more likely to enjoy dealing with others who are enthusiastic, relationship focused and sincere.

When working with, communicating with, or selling to others, forget the golden rule. It’s the platinum rule that will yield the greatest results both within your company and with your customers. “Do unto others as they would do unto themselves.” This means find out about their desires, learn their personality and how they want to be treated. Underground Elephant in fact has recently embraced this method to better serve the needs of both customers and colleagues alike. Regardless of your line of business, understanding DISC will help you connect in meaningful, impactful and profitable ways. So, now that you know the platinum rule of sales success, let’s break down the four personality types of your customers and how to communicate effectively to each.

The D buying style describes people who are fast-paced, outspoken, questioning and skeptical. They are assertive, confident, no-nonsense, and not at all afraid to express their opinions.  Be prepared to answer, “What?” Show these buyers your willingness to get to the point, avoid small talk, show how you can improve their bottom line, be concise, be direct and be prepared to answer tough questions in a straightforward manner. Support their goals and focus on what you are going to do. Just doing it is their style. It’s their decision so offer options and let them decide.

types are accepting, warm, fast-paced and outspoken. They will appear extroverted, optimistic, social, enjoy small talk, and prefer informality. For these types, increase enthusiasm by focusing on how what you are selling helps people, be casual in your friendly open-ended questions, share personal stories, offer testimonials from others and concise summaries, not details, about your product. Be prepared to answer, “Who?” Develop ideas and solutions together, while being entertaining and fast moving. They want to have fun doing business.

The S style is typically accepting and warm, cautious and reflective. These are ordinarily accommodating types, who are humble, soft-spoken and reluctant decision makers.  They have high needs for security, trust and dependability.  Be prepared to answer, “Why?” So show warmth, empathy and give them time to be comfortable with decisions they need to make. Offer personal assurances of support before and after the sale, low pressured, and emphasize the reliability and dependability of your product, focusing on how you stand behind the service or product. Offer these types a cup of coffee. They want to do business “together.”

The cautious, competent, careful C type is questioning and skeptical, while also reflective.  They are reserved, analytical, systematic, lack a great deal of enthusiasm, and stick to the facts.  Be prepared to answer “How?” If you emphasize superb quality and expertise, offer details and facts, communicate in unemotional tones, clear and logical, you will  connect. Put it in writing for these folks. They want to do it the ‘right way’, so keep that in mind and offer any documentation for how and why your product or service works.

Do you have an important sales pitch today? A customer-service call to get on? Remember the platinum rule—adapt to their style and you’ll be posting sales and making meaningful, business boosting connections. Learn your own personality type for even greater success!

About Dr. Mantell

Dr. Michael Mantell earned his Ph.D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his M.S. degree in clinical psychology at the Hahnemann Medical College. Known for getting to the root of issues quickly, Dr. Mantell offering practical, effective solutions, action plans and results — improving personal lives, business relationships, athletic-fitness performance, and helping clients break through to their next step of success. He is the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise and serves as an Advisor to a number of different companies.

He regularly provides opinions, analyses and commentary for print and broadcast news media throughout the U.S. and internationally as a long-time member of SAG/AFTRA. He’s been a popular and consistent guest on television and radio talk shows across America, includingOprah,” “Nightline,” “Larry King,”and “Good Morning America” where he appeared for more than a decade as a regular contributor.

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