Values & Culture

Trust is a must – about personal styles, DISC, and matching in sales

 

In other posts we discuss sales techniques and methods on selling value. To sell value, and be able to charge extra for that value, the value must be fully perceived… felt.. by the customer. Whether we get across with our message or not, is influenced by our styles, our behaviors in different situations, and how well we fit.  Sometimes this personal fit is simply referred to as… the personal “chemistry” between people. Let’s have a look!

 

Trust – a must

 

When we meet new people, our brain reacts by asking two questions immediately and subconsciously. The first is about how we will communicate – considering openness, warmth and trustworthiness, and the second is about the competence and knowledge. “Is this someone I will get along with and trust?” and “Is this someone I can respect and understand?”. Entering into a personal relationship with the person, the first always trumps the other. If we don’t feel we will get along with the person, the competence dimension becomes irrelevant.

 

In Sales it is generally the customer side that determines the level of trust that is needed in the relationship for the sale to take place.

 

To generate trust we need to:

  • Understand how others perceive and appreciate our behavior
  • Know how to read the behavioral style of our customer
  • Learn how to adjust our style to the customer

 

There are many models and tools that help us understand styles and behavior. But few are as simple and as well documented as the DiSC model. The reason why the DiSC model is so suitable to apply on Sales is because DISC simplifies the reality and allows us to take quick decisions.

 

 

The DISC model

 

It is out of the scope for this manual to provide all the details of the model, but we encourage the reader to learn more about the theory and the tool to gain a good understanding of the personality styles and how to adapt our behaviours.

 

The DiSC model dates all the way back to the 1930s and based on William Moulton Marston’s findings and thinking. Although far from complete, it provides some basic insights into our ways and how it is likely that we react and behave in certain situations. It is one of the most used instruments, and while it is not really measuring or evaluating our personalities, it does describe basic human behaviors.

 

 

The DiSC model identifies four different behaviour styles (D. I. S. and C). Too make the model simpler and more accesible, it uses individual color codes for each style, and tells us four different ways in which we usually react to a given situation.

 

D – Dominance Style (RED) :

 

People with a dominant style in their base behavior will see themselves as strong in a non-friendly (e.g. professional) environments. This is why they tend to try to dominate the situation and the meeting. They are straight forward in their ways, not afraid to speak their mind, find it easier than many to see how to overcome different obstacles. They are challenge driven and goal oriented. They are willing to change, but normally only if they think it can help them to get what they set their mind on. A dominant style person will perceive himself as powerful, energetic, innovative, goal oriented and resolute. By others they however are perceived as arrogant, pushy, aggressive and insensitive.

 

I – Influential Style (YELLOW) :

 

Individuals with a strong influential style will see themselves as strong in a naturally friendly environment. In general they feel they have nothing to fear from the environment and people around. Therefore they want discuss things, have others to share their opinion and try to influence them through friendly persuasion. Their primary goal in any situation is to be understood, accepted and involved. A person with high Yellow will see himself as convincing, confident, generous, inspiring and open. By others, this person can be seen as selfish, superficial, egocentric and unserious.

 

S – Steady – stable Style (GREEN) :

 

People with a predominant stability style often see themselves as weaker than the surrounding, and when given the choice prefer to be in a friendly and conflict-less environment. They are concerned with not upsetting or change this environment, and want to preserve it to continue to feel safe and good about themselves. On the other hand, to change they must first be convinced that they don’t risk losing anything at all. As a sales person, the style is often perceived as a bit passive, and with difficulties to get to a close with the customer. A stability-style person will perceive themselves as loyal, good-listener, encouragingly and calm. But at the same time others can see them as stubborn and reluctant to change.

 

C – Compliant Style (BLUE) :

 

A strong compliant-style person tend to think that the surrounding is generally hostile and thus feel weaker. Because of this perceived weakness, they don’t exercise much influence on their own. They tend to prefer working by themselves and take great care to fit into existing and predetermined structures and rules to reach their goals. To avoid risk and conflict they will analyze each situation carefully before deciding to do anything that would change the given structure. A person with high Blue will see him/herself as fact-seeking, knowledgeable, systematic, diplomatic and reflective. On the other hand this person can be perceived by others as pedantic, avoiding, indecisive and reserved.

 

 

 

Interview candidates with a purpose – template

If you are a bit new to recruiting and interviewing, and need some basic tips and tricks, continue reading. As with most things in Sales Management, putting a little structure and thought behind your recruiting will enhance your chances of selecting the right person and getting off to a great start as a manager.

 

In this article we have put together some general guidelines and tips to help you prepare for your interviews.

 

 

Who do I want to work with?

The first area to spend some time on is to define what is truly important for the role.

 

“HARD” SKILLS

 

We all understand the importance of understanding your advanced technology, or that the candidate has a great network, extremely experienced at the same time as young, hungry and full of energy. We can call these the “hard” skills. They are often tangible, more easily measurable – and 9 times of 10, are what managers I talk to mention as the most important criteria when recruiting.

 

On the concrete or “hard” competences, you will want to evaluate the candidates

  • market knowledge and network in the territory
  • product and technology understanding
  • sales skills/technique competences

 

“SOFT” TRAITS

 

Very often the “soft” abilities are passed to a second plane, they are more difficult to define and measure, or even to talk about. Yet, they are key to a successful transition into your team and to reach productivity.

 

In The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020: U.S. Edition, 500 buyers and 500 salesreps/managers were asked what 10 characteristics buyers desire from salespeople compared to the characteristics sales managers look for in the sales reps they hire. Buyers were ranking Active Listening, Problem solving, Confidence (Trust), Relationship Building and Communication skills as the top 5 traits. Technology understanding, Years of Experience, Industry Expertise came lower.

 

During your interviews, pay special attention to that the candidate:

  • will adapt to the context and support network you have in your company
  • learn well and can adapt to ways of working
  • is open to change
  • will fit in your culture, make it easy to work together
  • share similar values, and will subscribe to the corporate values

 

 

Recruiting the right person to the wrong place

 

There are only too many examples of great salespeople – absolute top performers who are recruited into a different context but selling something very similar to the same people, who still failed to succeed or even get close to the previous success. The “hard” competences all fit, product/technology, market/industry, contact network, and demonstrated sales methods and techniques, all “check!”, yet they fail, why?

 

What happens is that the soft abilities and cultural fit just don’t align with how your team and company works. This is everything from your internal team dynamics, culture and jargon, but also misalignment with the expected surrounding support, HR, pre/tech sales, support, services, marketing etc.

 

 

Two classical scenarios:

  • the medium sized company who decide to open a new sales office in a new country/market, and hire a top manager from the incumbent competitor for the job. This is always a bad idea, as the first person in the market need to do all the work him/herself initially, and there is no support network yet.
  • large corporation that hires people from startups often find it difficult to accommodate for the hires appetite for creativity and room for own decisions, and the employee often feels hindered and suffocating under all processes.

 

Note that we are not saying one is better than the other, but as hiring managers, we must be conscious of our own ways, culture, and values, and must be sensitive to which candidates will fit in our context.

 

 

The Process

 

DEFINE KEY EVALUATION CRITERIA

 

Make sure to complete the “hard” job descriptions with the most important “soft” characteristics you are looking for. Then design the interview template that help you evaluate the candidate in all these dimensions. You can download a simple template clicking the button below.

 

USING TESTS

The more important you deem the values, culture and other “soft” skills are for the role, you may want to consider a personality test, and make sure you prepare your interview well and focus on these areas. If you are using an agency, they can often set up a DISC test or similar for you.

If the job require technical skills, set up a test that your candidate need to solve, or ask them to prepare a convincing sales meeting if recruiting telesales.

 

MULTIPLE INTERVIEWS

Do have at least 2 people apart from yourself interview the candidate throughout the process. Let them meet with different personalities and roles, to catch possible moments where non desired behaviours come up to the surface. You will get a moch more complete picture of the candidate. After each round do set up a debrief with the interviewers, and run through the evaluation criteria.

 

 

Interview template

To help you structure the interview, we propose a simple template that you can follow. It should not be a questionnaire, but list the key competences and personal traits you will want to evaluate.

 

Use it as a support that help you formulate questions and conduct the conversation so that in the end you feel confident all areas were covered to your satisfaction. The question in all cases being:

  • “How well/badly do I think the candidate will be doing……?”
  • “Will the candidate be strong enough in ……..?”
  • “Is the candidate motivated and able to learn this ……. quickly”

 

 

Download template

 

Prepare by thinking through each area, and note what specifics you will want to know, and how to formulate the question to get the answers you need.

 

Remember to ask for relevant references, and to complete the interview with a contact to those references.

 

Onboarding for growth

The importance of a great Onboarding

 

Studies show that employees give their new companies about 6 months on average before they decide whether to go all in or not with their new employer. At the same time , other sources point to a learning curve, and time to full productivity of a year or more, at least one full sales cycle. In a culture where success often is made synonymous to revenue and sales numbers, new salespeople risk losing interest and enthusiasm long before success and hitting their numbers.

The combination of high expectations, a long ramp up/time to sales, together with short patitence of both the new employee and often the organization as well, becomes an explosive cocktail of high attrition on new hires, with stagnated growth as the most severe consequence.

 

The onboarding program helps mitigating the effect, by

  • shortening the learning curve and time to productivity, and
  • redefining and widening the term success, since activity metrics, competence development and personal growth are also considered successes along the way.
  • keeping people interested and motivated from the first day and throughout the learning process

 

A great onboarding program helps new hired individuals perceive and appreciate the company’s effort to develop and grow them, and are more likely to return the favor by staying on and being more motivated.

 

 

Defining what is important

We have prepared a template for a 12 month onboarding plan, where we have selected some standard areas for sales reps in a complex technology sales context. Use this as inspiration to create  your own plan. Consider what is truly important and if possible differente a sales rep in your company and context.

 

Some are you may want to include are:

  • Market and ecosystem understanding
  • Contact network
  • Customer understanding
  • Product and Technology
  • Personal traits
  • Values & Cultural fit
  • Sales technique
  • Sales process and strategy
  • Tools & Methods

 

A structured approach to competence management is helpful throughout all phases, from recruiting to the periodical evaluations. What you do the initial evaluation, already in the recruiting phase, and construct a initial training program to cover any weakness you discovered, we call it our Onboarding Program.

 

 

a simple onboarding plan based on competence areas helps providing structure

Onboarding program for a Sales Person

Below you find a template to use to create your own onboarding program. Fill the boxes with the training, meetings, and activities that your new hire should be planned to do within different time horizons. To help you organise your thoughts, go area by area, one by one, and fill in the boxes. You may be surprised at the end by the quantity of activities the new hire need to do to get up to speed. Keep this is mind when you set the expectations for sales and productivity for the fist couple of months!

 

Many of the activities sucha as “getting to know the company” , and walk through of practical tools and arrangements need to happen early on, and others will be more evenly spread out over the year. We suggest you stage the learning in

 

  • Immediate (< 2weeks)
  • 1st month
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 months

 

In each area you may also want to add success criteria, or milestones that you can check off and celebrate with your hire as he/she makes each one. Click below to download our onboarding template.

 

 

Download template