DISC: More than Meets the Eye

Written on the 4 May 2015 by Markku Kauppinen, Extended DISC North America

DISC: More than Meets the Eye Ask 100 salespeople, and the odds are good that at least 80 of them will insist that they "know all about" the DISC behavior assessment tool. D-style people are decisive, tough, and impatient. I-style people are sociable, talkative, and open. S-style people are calm, steady, and laid back. C-style people are precise, exact, and analytical. What else is there?

Actually, quite a lot. Having that kind of familiarity with the four behavioral styles is a great start but only a start. There are four steps that sales professionals (and others) need to complete in order to get the most from DISC. They are:

  1. Understand what the DISC model is all about. In reality, far fewer sales professionals have mastered this step than is commonly believed. Here's why. To complete the first step, we should not only be able to describe each DISC style, but also be clear, deep down, that people with styles that differ from ours are just different not better or worse. Thus, a high D whose sales manager is a high C has not yet fulfilled Step 1 if she sees her boss's request for lots of information before making a decision as "wrong."
  2. Develop a confident self-awareness. The DISC assessment tells you things you may already be aware of about your own behaviors, as well as some things that may make you stop and say, "Hmm. I don't know if that's really true about me." Usually, when you cross-check with others who live and work with you, you find that it is true! Developing this kind of self-knowledge is particularly important for salespeople. For an I-style salesperson, the fact that he enjoys talking can be a strength but it can also be a weakness that distances him from prospects if he's not careful.
  3. Learn to identify the styles of others. Most salespeople who "know all about" DISC (from a cursory Internet search) haven't yet mastered the skill of accurately identifying a prospect's DISC style on the first meeting. This takes time and practice. If we haven't put in that time and practice, we may habitually see certain behavior styles as "wrong" or otherwise unacceptable, and we may have trouble bringing the appropriate "nurturing" approach to the early discussions.
  4. Make conscious modifications when communicating and interacting with others. When we're in potentially stressful situations (like a sales call), it can be more difficult for us to modify our own behavior styles, especially if we haven't yet developed a confident self-awareness. But we can create an awareness that says, "This is my natural tendency when it comes to communicating and this is how I plan to alter those tendencies when I deal with people with certain specific behavioral styles."


Markku Kauppinen is the President and CEO of Extended DISC North America, Inc. His focus and passion are to help executives to make better decisions about their employees, teams and organization.

Excerpted from The Sandler Advisor Newsletter, Winter 2015 Issue.  ©2014 Sandler Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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Author: Markku Kauppinen, Extended DISC North America

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