When I was younger I worked at a lot of different jobs, most of them sales-oriented. More than once, I developed a bit of a bad reputation for not toeing the line or doing as I was told.
The reason? I asked too many questions.
Whether it was because I couldn’t work well until I had all the information I thought I needed, or because constant questions just don’t sit well with some managers and higher-ups, this tended to get me in trouble.
I had heard of Myers-Briggs, but since I didn’t put any value in personal development yet, I thought it was a waste of time. When I started talking with my former business partner at the web design agency about working together, he told me that I needed to go and take a DISC personality assessment before I could even start. Really? I point-blank told him that I didn’t think that was necessary.
He is one of the most laid-back guys I have ever met; I believe that you could spit on him and he would just ask you why you were upset. And we’d known each other for a while. We were friends. So I couldn’t understand why he would need me to take any kind of personality assessment.
But he was adamant and told me that we couldn’t work together if I weren’t willing to take the test and have it reviewed. I was more than a little shocked (and even a tiny bit offended), but I agreed to take it.
It seems obvious now, but I’d never really considered the fact that people communicate in different ways and are motivated by different things. Again, seems obvious, but too many people out there never get it.
But more on that in a bit.
After taking the assessment, I went over the results with the person we got the assessment from. As much as I didn’t want to admit it at the time, it was a complete game-changing experience. All these quirks that I thought were unique were just part of my personality traits, the personality traits that most people like me share. I wasn’t a complete weirdo!
And more importantly, I finally understood the motivations behind them.
Since first taking the DISC assessment and having such a great experience, I’ve taken every personality test that I can get my hands on. Strengthfinders, Personality Index, Predictive Index, Culture Index, Myers-Briggs, How to Fascinate, and Basis, and more.
But it isn’t enough to just take the test; you need to have an expert go over your results.
I will never forget when a friend invited me to take Predictive Index, she pulled up my results and immediately laughed and asked me sarcastically, “How much do you hate being wrong?” The answer, if you don’t know, is a lot.
The other thing about personality assessments is that it can tell you things about yourself that you never would have guessed or realized on your own.
As I said before, my business partner and I knew each other for a while before this assessment. He thought he knew where I was, but even he was surprised by the results.
On the DISC scale, my personality type is high C, and my business partner is an off the chart I. We are two very different people in how we communicate and what we need before we start something new. After the assessment, we were able to figure out how to communicate these differences so that we could have better conversations.
When he comes in and says that we should sell a brand new product offering, he can already expect that I’m going to need a lot more information before even starting. When I’m discussing a project that he doesn’t know anything about, I understand that he doesn’t need the details. He just needs to know enough to help the conversation along and get to work.
These assessments help every kind of communication. Not just between partners, but between managers and their teams too.
Most managers want to assume that money or threats of job security are the biggest motivating levers. That’s usually because those are their motivations and they are the only motivations their bosses ever pushed. It’s just what people are used to. It doesn’t help that a lot of sales managers started as great salespeople, but the two do not go hand in hand. More on that later.
But that’s what makes getting assessments for your sales team so important. You’ll have a better understanding of how to motivate and hold on to your employees. If you understand how they need to process information and what really motivates them to do the things that are not really things they love to do, then you can dig in. You can figure out how to keep them moving forward and not dwelling in uncertainty or displeasure.
Most importantly, you’ll know what their strengths and weaknesses are. This can go a long way in making sure that they are in the right role and in a position to grow, not be bogged down by things that will never inspire them.
Taking this even further, personality assessments can help you in sales too.
It may not happen immediately, but the more you know about yourself and your personality, the more easily you’ll be able to discern what other people’s personality types are.
This is especially true with DISC. The results from that teach you how to recognize other people’s type and how to successfully communicate with them.
When you can improve your communication skills with all types of people, you’ll have an easier time selling to them.
For instance, I can pretty quickly tell who I’ll need to build a lot of trust with through small talk and who just wants the information and nothing else. I can usually expect it when somebody is going to have a million questions or when somebody just wants the Cliff’s Notes version.
But I’ve been doing this for a while now, so that doesn’t happen overnight.
The point is, personality assessments have helped me in every aspect of my life, from my relationships with my daughter and girlfriend to every sales call I’ve had.
Knowing as much as you can about yourself helps you to have a better understanding of the people around you. And that will lead to deeper conversations and more meaningful relationships.