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Dear David: Secret to sales success—Rarely be yourself

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I just don’t understand why I spend so much money getting people in the door and less than half of them buy something. My salespeople are paid a commission, so they should be motivated. They are all experienced and well trained. My prices are competitive. My selection is the best in the market. What is going wrong? 

Dear Blinded Owner,

Let’s start this off with an important ratio: Success in business is 15% what you know and 85% how you interact and get along with others. You can have the most experienced, well-trained sales team on the planet, but until they understand this ratio, you’ll continue to have issues closing customers.

I was once introduced to the DISC method and was blown away with the concept. DISC teaches a key element: Don’t treat others the way you want to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated. In other words, find out one’s personality style, adapt your basic style and use your persuasive skills to manipulate someone into doing what you want them to do.

In a sales relationship, the other person doesn’t care what you like or don’t like, they don’t care how you want to be talked to or treated— they care most about how you are treating them. Some like a hard close, while others prefer soft; some like a close that highlights what a great choice they are making; some decide on the spot and others need some time. Get this right and manipulating a customer to a sale will be a whole different ball game.

According to DISC, there are four types of personality styles and the percentages of the population they represent: D—Outgoing and task focused (10%); I—Outgoing and people focused (25% to 30%); S—Reserved and people focused (30% to 35%); C—Reserved and task focused (20% to 25%).

My basic style is a D/I blend, and I represent less than 4% of the population. What does that all mean? If I treat everyone the way I want to be treated, I would alienate 96% of those I encounter. I spend a majority of my time being someone I am not—I figure out the customer, I flip a mental switch and temporarily become just like the person in front of me.

This is your biggest issue: Your sales associates are treating your customers the way they want to be treated. Here is some data to back up my conclusion. The highest segment of the population is an “S” type (30% to 35%), and the average close rate in the industry is (30% to 35%). If your “S” sales associates talk the same language to your “S” customers, you should close at the same ratio—assuming your prices, services and selection are competitive.

The solution to your dilemma is simple—your sales associates need to be trained in DISC and use those skills, along with the other intangibles you mentioned, and I guarantee you will see a difference in your close rates. They will be able to identify personality cues with just a handshake and subtle mannerisms. When doing measures, they will gain insights by the type of pictures on the walls and how the home is organized. Those cues and flipping a switch to match the customer’s style will lead to both higher close rates and average tickets.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. He writes frequently on hiring and sales training, Contact David at david@romanogroup.com.