How to identify your lead’s behaviour using the DiSC model

Many sales reps or sales directors sometimes find themselves having difficulties communicating to some individual customers. They can’t point out what exactly  but they have the feeling the communication is not perfect and the relationship is not “clicking”.

This often has to do with that we as humans communicate differently depending on what personal behaviour we have. Those sales reps and directors who have understood that you need to communicate differently with different customers may still have difficulties analyzing what behaviour profile the specific customer has.

However this is crucial because once you know the natural behaviour of your client you will be able to communicate in a way that is tailor-made and suits the individual customer/person.

What is at stake here is your ability to understand their needs, transmit your thoughts, your unique selling points at your client’s natural rhythm, your ability to truly connect with your clients and eventually build trust.

That makes your sales process smoother and much more easy and efficient.

This is why we wrote this article, to help you easily identify the dominant behaviour of your leads. This method is based on the DiSC profiling method. A scientific method which has been largely proven valid, relevant and which is really well documented.

If you are not familiar with the DiSC model you can read our article about the basics of this useful method.

You can’t imagine the advantage you gain over your competitors when you know the behaviour of your target customers. Really successful sales rep are able to identify it quickly and adapt themselves in order to win the deal.

Why you need to know the behaviour of your leads/customers and why use the DiSC profile to do so.

The main reason to explain why you should know how to identify your customer’s behaviour is simple.

As a sales rep it will make you better. As a sales director you will be pleased to see your sales department becoming more efficient. It will also make it easier to identify what behaviors your different team members need to have, depending on the most common behaviours for your target customers.

Indeed as a sales rep you will have a better understanding of your leads expectations but more importantly you will know how to communicate in the best way to connect with your client. Knowing the dominant behaviour of your customers will help you at every stage of the sales process, from the moment you are prospecting, to the first contact, the deal closure and the up-sales and cross-sales.

As a sales director, if your are able to recognize the natural behaviour of your customers you will be able to put the right sales rep on the right lead. That is to say the person in your team which has the most suitable natural behaviour to handle this specific customer. If you do so, your sales department will be much more efficient because your sales rep will be in their comfort zone.

In order to identify the dominant behaviour of someone we will use the DiSC method. Why ? Because this method is trustworthy and simple.

The DiSC method separates people into 4 groups according to their dominant behaviour. That is why the DiSC method can easily work as a template and is well adapted to situations when you don’t have a lot of time to identify the behaviour of someone, as in sales for example.

The DiSC method, invented in the 1930’s by William Marston, researcher at Harvard, divide people into 4 categories in function of their natural behaviour.

The DiSC method is based upon the answers of this 2 questions :

  • How do I perceive the environment ? Friendly or Unfriendly ?
  • How do I perceive my own strength compared to the environment ? Stronger or Weaker ?

With theses answers, Marston has been able to divide people in 4 behaviour styles.

D-Style : Dominant / Red

Perceive themselves as strong , in an unfriendly environment. People with high D-style will try to dominate the situation, because they see themselves as stronger than the challenges they face. They will try to change, or verify things to reach their goals. They are forthright in their way and have the ability to see how challenges can be overcome. They like to get results quickly and therefore also to make quick decisions. They like straight forward communication that cuts to the chase.

I-Style : Influence / Yellow

People with high I-style feel strong in a friendly environment and would like to get others to share their opinions. With friendly persuasion, they try to get others convinced that their opinions are right. They like to produce ideas but have a hard time concluding and creating structured results. They like to tell and hear stories.

S-Style : Stability / Green

People with high S-style want to preserve the environment they perceive as friendly and beneficial. They see themselves as less powerful and therefore do not want too much to change. They care a lot about the impact on the group and that all in the group feel good. They don’t like to take decisions and often find themselves dragged into long mental processes before making a decision. They like slower and friendly communication.

C-Style : Conformity / Blue

People with high C-style see themselves as less powerful in an unfriendly environment. They will therefore try to analyze the situation carefully. They are careful and like to follow established rules and also prioritize high quality in order to achieve their goals. They like facts and since they prioritize quality they don’t like to do wrong or get accused for doing wrong. They like fact- based communication that cuts out stories. This makes it easier for them to analyse the potential results and outcomes before making a decision.

Of course this is a brief summary of the DiSC method and if you want to learn more about the general idea behind or the specificity of each color you can always read this super useful article which describes the basics of the DiSC method.

Each individual behaviour is a mix of these 4 styles but we all have at least 1 or 2 dominant styles and these are the one interesting for us, sales people.  To do so we will use the OAR method: Observe/ Assess / Recognize.

Use the OAR method to identify the dominant DiSC color of your leads/customers

The Observe / Assess / Method is a powerful method, in 3 steps, to identify the dominant DiSC color / style of someone when you want to sell him something. We have detailed each steps in the following paragraphs but if you want to dig in you can always see this video of

Remember that this is important for you, as salespeople, the more accurately you can identify the possible dominant style of your lead, the easier it will become to adopt the best behaviour and be more effective in your communication.

Phase 1 : Observe

This is the phase when you want to gather the maximum information about your target before doing any assumptions. This phase can last a very long time and the more clues or signs you get the more accurate your analysis will be.

Thanks to modern technology we have many different means to gather information about someone.

The basic one.

  • Email
  • Phone call
  • Sales Meeting/l Lunch/ Presentation

But also

  • Social Media (especially LinkedIn)
  • Speech / Interview / Conference
  • Blog / Article

Your job here is to explore each possible channel and ask yourself :

What they talk about : themselves? their colleagues ? their superiors ? their competitors ? families, hobbies, accomplishments, brand specific or just say nothing

D-Style will have a tendency to talk about : goals, themselves, results, tasks and the future

I-Style may express more positive things and focus on people, they are also keen to talk about the future and themselves

S-Style are focus on agreements, principles. They often mention core values. They also refer a lot to other people and the team they belong to.

C-Style will evoke facts, analysis, data, number but also rules and instructions

How they say it ? tone of voice, speed of voice, type of word used, descriptive or not, economical or not in choice of words.

Body Language : arms open, arms crossed, look in the eye, don’t, animated, calm, use facial expression, use their hands while talking.

Tonality : warm, cold, enthusiastic, reserved, loud, quiet, monotone, confident, emotional

Tips : We as, human beings, can fake our true behaviour when we are in our comfort zone but we have much more difficulties to hide it when we face exceptional feelings such as high pressure, stress or fear.

That’s why if you can push your leads a little bit outside their comfort zone you could learn some valuable insights. It can be for example, to meet him outside his office, in a place where he does not feel entirely safe.

Phase 2 : Assess

During this phase your job is to answer two questions based on your observations :

First : Are they Active or Reserved ?

You can recognize Active people because :

  • They evoke the  future state of things and how things can evolve
  • They have a loud voice and an animated body language.
  • They are assertive and direct
  • They are comfortable with eye-contact

You can recognize Reserved people because :

  • They evoke the present state of things and they talk about the present and the past
  • They have a calm tone and a quiet voice
  • They are not really comfortable with eye-contact

If people are Active they most likely are D-Style or I-Style

If people are Reserved they most likely belong to the S-Style or C-Style

Second : Are they People-Oriented or Task-Oriented :

You can recognize People-Oriented persons because :

  • They talk and ask about people
  • They don’t focus on tasks
  • They show emotions more easily

You can recognize Task-Oriented person because :

  • They talk and ask about tasks or things
  • They don’t focus on people
  • They don’t show emotions very easily

If your lead is People-Oriented he will most likely be S-Style or I-Style

If your lead is Task-Oriented he will most likely belong to the D-Style or C-Style

Tips : It can be quite tricky to say if a person is Reserved/Active or People-Oriented/ Task-Oriented. A good help is to have 3 or 4 persons in mind, ideally relatives or colleagues, that you know for sure are Reserved, Active, People-Oriented and Task-Oriented. It will help you to have element of comparison.

For example, you will maybe recognize your friend’s behaviour, really focused on people, when you will hear the same kind of thoughts your friend may have, in the mouth of your clients. I have to ask my boss VS I have to ask my wife.

Phase 3 : Recognize

In this phase your role is to attribute a DiSC Style or color to your leads in order to adapt your behaviour and communication towards them in your future relation and eventually connect on trust and personal level with him/her.

To do so you will take all the information you gathered in phase 1 and 2 and see which DiSC style is the closer to your lead’s behaviour. The DiSC style will serve as templates for you to compare with the actual behaviour of your customers.

General signs that your lead is most likely from the Dominant style : D

He or she is Active and Task-Oriented which means he/she will probably talk about tasks, results and future improvements.

They are emotional. He or she is likely to have a high paced rhythm, be frustrated by indecisiveness and inefficiency. They often are assertive and express clearly their opinion.

Good to know, D-people will test you , challenge you to see if you have the guts.

They have a tendency to ask  “What”- questions like What’s the bottom line, What is in it for me ?

General signs that your customer is from the Influence style : I

He or she is Active and People-Oriented

They do not focus on details but prefer to talk about the bigger picture. They fear social rejection and care about the image they project. They are enthusiastic people, talk loud and try to influence others.

They have a tendency to ask  “Who”-questions like Who’s going to be at the meeting, Who else is using this ?

General signs that your lead is from the Stability style : S

He or she is Reserved and People-Oriented

S-style want their decision to be accepted, they don’t want to upset anyone. Usually they think a lot and need time to process. They will seek support, feedback. They usually have a slow pace and do not show their emotions easily.

They have a tendency to ask  “How”-questions like How are we gonna do that ?

General signs that your customer belong to the Conformity style : C

He or she is Reserved and Task-Oriented

C-Style want to make the correct decision, the right decision. Not necessarily the one that pleases everybody but the best one. They seek the truth. They don’t want to regret. Mostly they have a slow pace. They are data-oriented and always seeks more information.

C-Style have a tendency to ask  “Why”-questions like Why are we doing that ?

Tips : Each human being is a combination of this 4 styles. In the majority of the cases we do have 1-2 really dominant colours. So a good way to determine the dominant(s) / colour(s) of someone is to look at what they are not, first. Try to determine which colour is fairly absent in their behaviour and you will have a good understanding of how you should not act before knowing how to act.


With the method Observe/Assess/Recognize you are know able to identify the dominant behaviour of someone. More precisely you are able to recognize his dominant DiSC profile.

However this is not the end of your leanings. If your relation with this lead become a long-lasting relationship then you will certainly learn a lot more about his/her behaviour. Therefore you might need to re-vamp your original assumption for a new, more accurate one.

You will also have to learn how to adapt your behaviour to your leads/customer’s DiSC profile in order to truly connect with him.