What Is The Best DISC Style For Sales Hiring?

Adam Stamm

I am often asked what is the best DISC Style or DISC personality type for a sales person. Should we hire a high “D”, “I”, “S”, “C” or a combined style like a “ID” or “DI”…? There is no single answer. No one DISC profile of the ideal sales person exists. It really depends on the type of business you are in, the type of selling that is required and/or desired in the job you are hiring for. Factors that come into play include, but are not limited to:

  • industry type
  • business type
  • type of sales interaction taking place:
    • phone
    • direct sales, in-person
    • internet based
    • cold calling
    • warm calling
    • new or existing accounts
    • relationship selling
    • hard sell
  • style of of sales program:
    • SPIN Selling
    • IMPACT Selling
    • Solution selling
    • etc….

Be Careful What You Wish For

It is common for clients to contact me and say they are hiring for sales and therefore they need to screen for a “DI” or “ID” because they want an individual that is motivated by results or the bottom-line (commission/money). This sales candidate should also be an independent self-starter and good with people. That sounds good on the surface (fits many sales people stereotypes) and will likely get you some good high performance sales people, but what is the downside of hiring the obvious? Well, this type of person may be driven by their bottom-line and not yours. They may not be a team player. They may not only be competitive against your competitors, but also completive towards other sales people within your organization. Remember what motivates them. If they are highly successful they are likely the same types of sales person that other sales organizations are looking for and are likely going to be pursued by head hunters and executive recruiters. DISC can help you understand if the candidate is predisposed to acting independently or whether they are more of a team player. It does not measure values, morals or loyalty.

Let’s be honest. Each DISC pattern can sell and can do well in certain sales situations, just as they can be disastrous in other situations. There are many people, like myself that get turned off when they are feeling sold to. I don’t want to play the game of someone asking me about the weather in Chicago or my about my family when they don’t even know them (or me for that matter). I don’t want to feel pressured by someone if I don’t act before midnight tonight. I want my questions answered. I want information. I want a good deal. I don’t trust the high “I” sales person or the high pressure “D”. But those are my issues, however, if I am the buyer, it is my issues that matter.

All DISC Styles or Profiles Have Advantages and Disadvantages

Some examples of both the strengths and weaknesses of the various DISC personality types in the next one or two blogs entries, but here are some quick thoughts.
An “I” may be the kind of people person you think you want as a sales person, but they may not deal so well with rejection. They may take it personally.
A “D” may be great when it comes to staying focused and get to the bottom line, but who’s bottom-line are they most interested in, the clients’ or their own? They may understand that it takes 98 “no”‘s to get to three or four “yes’s”. They may try and control the sales process which some clients may want (an “S”), but others may feel manipulated by the same behavior (a “D” client).

A “S” sales person my be intimidated by a “D” client and avoid soliciting such clients or come over wishy-washy to them. The “S” sales person may avoid asking for the sale and closing the deal. Yet if you are looking for a sincere and no pressure sales person this is your type.

A “C” can explain why this is a wonderful product and focus on benefits, but the “D” buyer does have time for all these details and may get frustrated. The “I” buyer is more interested in benefits and how it makes them feel, rather than the features and what is does.

Generalizing the DISC Sales Styles

If you want to do a quick generalization of the DISC selling styles we can say that:

  • The “D” and “I” are more action oriented
  • The “I” and “S” are more relationship oriented
  • The “S” and “C” are more dependability oriented
  • The “C” and “D” are more competency oriented
  • With “D” putting more emphases on results
  • “I” putting more emphases on enthusiasm
  • “S” putting emphases on sincerity
  • “C” focusing on quality

So you might extrapolate from this that in individual who is comfortable in the “I” or “S” style my do well in Relationship Selling. And a “D” may do better cold calling and an “S” warm calling.

Again, What Is The Best Personality Type For Sales?

In my opinion the best personality or behavioral style or type has little to do with DISC. What I want in a sales person is:

  • Someone who is:
    • Flexible
    • Adaptive
    • A good listener
  • Some who:
    • Knows how to ask the right questions at the right time
    • Can quickly determine a customer’s/client’s buying style and what they need to make a decision

It is less about cloning your best sales person. People are more complex than a four quadrant model.