Most people don’t think they need personality assessments. I know because I was one of them.
Believe it or not, I once thought they were worthless and a waste of time. I wasn’t nearly as well-read or self-evolved back then.
Before starting Adapted Growth, I also had a lot of different jobs, most of them being sales-oriented. I’d work in a place for a few months, sometimes a year or more, and then move on to what I thought would be greener pastures.
It took me a long time to find out that one of the biggest reasons I struggled to find contentment and joy in these different jobs was because I didn’t know who I really was or what I needed to feel confident and happy in a professional role.
It didn’t help that many of my managers didn’t love me because I asked way too many questions. Shocker, I know. I eventually discovered that one of my driving motivators is asking questions and having thorough instructions before beginning a job.
But I’d have to take a personality assessment before I’d ever find that out.
My Personality Assessments Epiphany
Like many, I’d heard of Myers-Briggs and had taken some bastardized free version at some point.
Candidly, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about myself.
After a painfully difficult sales job that left me stressed and exhausted for a year, I had an opportunity to work with a close friend of mine. So when he said that I would have to take a personality quiz first, I thought he was joking.
He was not.
Although we knew each other quite well, he also knew that personality assessments could uncover a lot about people you wouldn’t otherwise know—especially in the workplace.
For us to work well together, he needed that information about me. Turns out, so did I.
I begrudgingly took it. A few days later, my brand new sales coach (recommended by my friend and new business partner) went over the results with the two of us.
It. Was. A. Game. Changer.
Within minutes, I knew more about why I thought the things I thought and did the things I did than in all of my previous 32 years of existence.
- how I communicate with others,
- how I sell (or how I should sell),
- what motivates me,
- what stops me in my tracks,
- and how my personality shifts in different situations.
It seems obvious now, but I’d never considered that people communicate in different ways and are motivated by other things. That’s crazy, right?
More than anything, I finally understood that all the things I struggled with in past jobs occurred because I didn’t know how to handle a situation, adapt, or explain my viewpoint.
Becoming a Personality Assessment Nerd
That first test that my former business partner had me take was DiSC which, if you’re unfamiliar, I’ll explain in a bit.
Since then, I’ve taken every personality test that I can get my hands on. Strengthfinders, Personality Index, Predictive Index, Culture Index, How to Fascinate, Basis, and many more.
With few exceptions, I paid for them all because, sadly, taking free versions rarely gives you any actionable insight or usable understanding.
And when possible, having an expert go over results with you yields even greater knowledge.
I will never forget when a friend invited me to take Predictive Index. She pulled up my results and immediately laughed. After I fearfully asked why she was laughing, she asked, “How much do you hate being wrong?” The answer: SO MUCH.
Each one is a little different, and they all unpeel another layer of your subconscious and what makes you who you are. That’s why I keep taking personality assessments.
But at the end of the day, DiSC is still the one I prefer, and it’s the one I recommend to others, especially in sales.
Why DiSC Helps Salespeople
If you’ve never heard of DiSC before, it is an assessment that divides personality types into four quarters of a spectrum. These types and main traits are:
- Dominant (D) — task-focused, gut-driven, self-confident, decisive, outspoken, risk-taking
- Influential (i) — people-focused, gut-driven sociable, enthusiastic, impulsive, team-oriented
- Steadiness (S) — people-focused, fact-driven, loyal, cooperative, deliberate, careful
- Conscientious (C) — task-focused, fact-driven, questioning, logical, skeptical, restrained
Knowing these helps you sell better because it influences the way you approach sales conversations.
For instance, you shouldn’t have a lengthy conversation about your weekend with a D or C. They want to get down to business. However, an i loves to hear (and tell!) personal stories, and an S likes to know something about who you are before they trust you.
Knowing how to talk to the person on the other side of the table helps you in every possible way. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of how to get the information you need to disqualify them or close the deal. And you’ll know how to earn their trust authentically.
These personality assessments will also help you understand how you buy from others, which allows you to understand their viewpoint better. Even if they’re your complete opposite, you can learn how to modify your communication style to accommodate their needs.
For example, I am a high C, which means I’m comfortable asking questions, even difficult ones, and I don’t like not having answers. Frankly, I don’t need a personal connection to have a meaningful conversation. I thrive on facts and data, not emotions.
So when I’m talking to a C or D, we can speak the same language.
But when I talk with an i or S, I have to tone down my usual robotic style and get to know them a little bit. I can do this without changing who I am because I’ve practiced it so much.
Sales Managers Need Personality Assessments Too
These assessments help every kind of communication—not just between salesperson and prospect, but between managers and their teams too.
(When you get down to it, personality assessments help in every situation. My life partner and I started communicating 1000 times better after taking DiSC. That’s why I merge my sales method into my personal life so much.)
As a manager, knowing what motivates your team members to work hard, what keeps them from trying harder, and what their strengths and weaknesses are can make an enormous difference in the effectiveness of your leadership.
A one-size-fits-all management approach rarely benefits anybody. But it’s especially unhelpful in B2C selling, where psychology, personality, and effective communication are vital to building relationships and closing deals.
Just as there’s no single, cookie-cutter way to sell that works for everybody, there’s no single way to manage every salesperson.
Personality assessments give managers an easy and immediate shortcut to understanding their employees and forming a plan on the best way to manage them. And the earlier, the better!
Consider making it part of your hiring or onboarding process.
Your salespeople’s results can help you determine whether they’re in the right roles, how they process information, and the best way to communicate direction, corrections, and appreciation.
But in the same way that assessments help salespeople sell better by understanding different points of view and communication styles, this also applies to managers.
To truly get to know others, you have to know yourself first.
Yes, Everybody Should Take Personality Assessments
Even if you aren’t in sales, getting to know yourself better can only help you.
Personality assessments are like having the keys to doors that you didn’t even know were locked.
When therapists spend the first few sessions warming up and asking easy questions, they do it for their benefit as much as yours. They’re figuring out who you are, how you communicate, and what approaches they should and shouldn’t take before they start digging into the problem.
Maybe DiSC isn’t the right assessment for you, although it’s still the one I will always fall back on. And in sales, I’ve yet to find a better one.
But no matter how much you think you know yourself or the people around you, any good assessment will tell you more than you ever thought possible.
Even when you think you know, the results might surprise you!
Most people act a little differently depending on who they’re with or what they’re doing. So, getting to know someone at the same depth as paid personality assessments is challenging.
My former business partner thought he knew what my personality type would be. He had a lot of experience with DiSC, and we’d been friends and Kung Fu partners for quite some time.
So when we got the results back, he was kind of blown away.
Here’s why he was wrong:
He only knew me in the context of the martial arts school we both attended and in social interactions. He never saw me alone at home. And more importantly, he’d never worked with me.
Socially, I had to shift out of my natural state. I’d become so good at it that even I didn’t realize it. But in a work environment, I only knew how to operate within my more natural C state—the one that made some of my managers and all my drill sergeants dislike me.
Even I didn’t understand that I asked questions because I was so uncomfortable not having clear instructions or the reasons for doing them. I didn’t realize that I was so mentally exhausted after parties because socializing was a forced behavior.
When I finally knew and could process these aspects of my personality, my life became so much easier!
Personality Assessments Should Be Required
Okay, required is a stretch.
I’m not saying you have to take one before boarding a plane or anything.
But if both parties took one before going on a first date, would it be a better experience? Probably.
Churn rates in businesses would undoubtedly go down if new hires were placed and managed with better alignment to their personality types.
People up for promotion should absolutely be required to take one before taking on the responsibility of leading and managing others.
The point is that personality assessments have helped me in every aspect of my life—from parenting my daughter to communicating with my girlfriend. And they’ve certainly made every sales call significantly better.
Knowing as much as you can about yourself helps you to have a better understanding of the people around you. That will lead to deeper conversations, easier conflict management, and more meaningful relationships.
So if you’ve never taken one (no, Buzzfeed doesn’t count), what are you waiting for?