Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sell the way they buy - part one: RED

In the 1970’s I met two people who had a profound impact on me - John G. Geier, Ph.D. and Dorothy E. Downey, M.S. Their Personal Profile System is accurate, inexpensive, self-scoring and fun. Their four categories of behavior – D, I, S, and C are often referred to as DISC (pronounced like a computer DISK)

I was reluctant to label a person’s style with one-word, a common mis-interpretation of Geier’s work, so I suggested the primary colors as categories of behavior. Since then, others have gone down this path. Geier is often plagiarized, but his work is still the best application of the DISC material. His profile, Behavior Indicator, makes it clear we are measuring Behavioral Characteristics, not personality traits.

Geier's inspiration came from the work of Psychologist William Moulton Marston who helped invent the polygraph test, and, since he felt young women in the 1930’s needed a role model similar to those written for young boys in comic books, he created the comic book character Wonder Woman. Marston was disenchanted with the Freud emphasis on deviant behavior and wrote a book called The Emotions of Normal People. His contention was that we should study “normal” behavior and draw conclusions from that rather than using deviant behavior as the focus of our studies.

Geier often told me, “A person is much more than an example of a style.” When someone suggested she did not want to put people in “boxes” Geier answered, “I don’t put people in boxes – I find them there.” He also contended, “People do not have weaknesses. A weakness is an over-extension of a strength.”

In a 1977 follow-up study, Geier surveyed 100 males and 102 females ranging in age from 22-60 years with a mean age of 32.4. They fell into these categories of behavior. 

High D behavior (I call this behavior grouping RED) - represented by those scoring at the top end of the D scale:

This behavior is described as:

Male: initiating, daring, forceful, opportunistic, adaptable, confident, poised, inventive, assertive, and enterprising.

Female: expansive, eager, optimistic, initiating, confident, active, adventurous, and opportunistic.

Low D behavior (Low RED) - represented by those scoring at the bottom end of the D scale:

Male: anxious, moody, preoccupied, satisfied, protective, aloof, and indifferent.

Female: self-controlled, hopeful, honest, realistic, methodical, reserved, inhibited, and patient.

Very few people separate male from female in these studies, which is a mistake.

According to Dale Carnegie, it is important to “talk in term of the other person’s interest.”  It's important that we as salespeople sell the way others prefer to buy. Unfortunately, most salespeople sell as if they are selling to a mirror image of themselves. They aren't. By doing so, they are mismatched with their buyers almost 75% of the time. 

Geier and Downey suggest a negative trigger for the RED buyer is attempting to group this person with others. If we say, “This is the most popular model, everyone is buying them, we can’t keep them in stock . . . etc.” this is a turn-off to them. They want something unique and results-oriented according to their gut-feelings and first impressions. They relish the new and different.

These behaviors are quite easy to identify. We’ll look at nuances in subsequent blogs. For now, let's just say these types of buyers speak at a fast-pace. They are typically loud and respond quickly, often sharply. They sound authoritative and want to be seen as being in command of the situation.

To decrease their fear, project your ideas as an extension of their thinking. Get to the point and speak quickly and firmly. Offer firm conclusions in contrast to tentative suggestions. Keep discussions focused on their objectives and, remember, they are not interested in being a team player, they see themselves as leaders.

They expect others to listen carefully and respond in a timely fashion. Suggest  options (no more than 2-3). They like to be in control of the decision.

Granted, this is high-level material not suited to everyone with these behavioral tendencies. However, it's a start, and opens our eyes to seeing the world as others see it.

We’ll continue with the other three categories in subsequent blogs.

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