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People, personalities, and sales

Exploring some of the science behind business behaviour.

Hardly a day goes by without news of a game-changing advance in technology racing across the media landscape. And indeed, some of these advances may affect an advisor’s outlook on the financial industry, or possibly their role within it. There’s noticeably less news devoted to advances in the understanding of human interaction. But when it comes to doing business, research on human behaviour and the ways that people do their jobs can be just as enlightening as research on the tools we rely on.  

Discover the DISC model 

Advisors are accustomed to professional development, which can include consuming vast amounts of information and improving their range of skills that help build client relationships. Yet one of the most effective steps you can take to improve your results is to develop a deeper understanding of yourself and the role personalities play in business relationships.  

Our ability to adapt our behaviour during different social interactions has, of course, been researched for years. The results of many studies indicate that while everyone displays some degree of each key personality type, we each have natural tendencies that tend to be prominent. Highlighting these tendencies is the focus of the DISC model, a framework developed to identify a person’s personality traits and communication style – and the subject of a popular Manulife Continuing Education (CE) Centre course entitled People, Personality and Sales (A DISC based approach).  

The DISC model features four major groups that identify a person’s dominant personality style, each of which is labelled with a D, I, S or C (DISC). Here's a brief synopsis of each type.

“D” – Dominant, Driven, Decisive, Direct 

People with a high “D” personality style are often more inclined to take risks and exercise control to determine their own destiny. They take on tasks through direct action, are competitive and often occupy positions of authority, blazing their own trail on terms they set for themselves.  

“I” – Influential, Impulsive, Innovative, Talkative 

People with an “I” personality style are the life of the party. Socially connected and confident around people, they jump at the chance to enjoy fun experiences and avoid boredom at almost any cost. 

“S” – Stable, Sincere, Sympathetic 

People with the “S” personality are solid as a rock and carry the weight of responsibility with pleasure. Interacting with people while living a life of routine is where they excel. Stability is the continuous goal.  

“C” – Conscientious, Creative, Compliant 

The “C” personality embraces perfectionism, logic and accuracy. “C”-dominant people are prideful, task-driven problem-solvers who strive for stability. 

What the DISC model says about you and others 

The DISC personality assessment program has been applied in business for more than 35 years, primarily because it can be relevant to so many situations.  The interactive CE Centre course aims to help advisors achieve five major objectives:

  1. Pinpoint your own personality and communication style, with its strengths and challenges, based on the DISC model.
  2. Identify differences between the four main personalities and behaviour styles as determined by the DISC model.
  3. Identify the different DISC styles based on behavioural indicators, including body language and written communication. 
  4. Apply what you’ve learned about your own style and how it interacts with others, to avoid potential conflicts and to foster effective relationships with clients.
  5. Adjust your communication and improve sales performance by aligning with clients’ DISC styles.

DISC research has found that about 80 per cent of people have a combination of two styles that dominate their behaviour. Only about 5 per cent have a single style, and the remainder of the population have a combination of three dominant styles. The “S” style alone, or in combination with another, is the most common (at 69 per cent of the population), whereas the least common is the pure “D” style (3 per cent).1 No style is right or wrong, but recognizing differences in personality style can facilitate improved understanding and communication between people.  Applying behavioural science, such as the DISC model, is becoming more common in managing business relationships. It supports the understanding that people with a firm awareness of human behaviour can take steps to modify their own to better meet the needs and preferences of their customers and clients.  

To date, the People, Personality and Sales course has been completed by more than 1,200 advisors, who have bolstered their fluency in the language of behaviour. 

Enter the CE Centre  

More than 35,000 advisors in Canada take advantage of free, unlimited access to over 150 courses offered by the Manulife CE Centre. Earning CE credits may be a professional requirement, but it’s also a great way to stay on top of current industry trends and the topics that are most important to you and your clients. (You can even earn CE credits by reading Advisor Focus magazine!) Visit the #Trending learning series for more on what’s currently trending in the industry. Courses in this series are constantly being added and refreshed, so be sure to log in regularly to see what’s new. With so much material available, there’s something for everyone. Log in today.  

Defining the DISC model graphic

1 Thomas Erikson, Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior (New York: St. Martin's, 2019).

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