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Nail Your Sales Pitch By Catering To Personality


By Merrick Rosenberg, CEO of Take Flight Learning and author of “The Chameleon: Life-Changing Wisdom for Anyone Who has a Personality or Knows Someone Who Does

office meeting

You finally have the “perfect” sales pitch. It just roped in a Fortune 500 client. You are unstoppable. Then you march confidently into the next meeting and get rejected. Flatly. In fact, your prospect looked miserable the entire time.

What went wrong?

There is no perfect sales pitch. But there are better and worse sales pitches for different personality types. The key to nailing your sales pitch is to adapt your message and delivery to the prospect’s personality.

In the DISC model, which I have taught to more than 25,000 people including two-thirds of the Fortune 100 companies, there are four different personality types. People tend to identify with one or two styles. To nail your sales pitch, you must get familiar with the personality styles:

Eagles (D) are dominant, results-oriented, decisive, and bottom-line focused. They want you to get to the point.

Parrots (I) are interactive, optimistic, enthusiastic, group-oriented, energetic, and humorous. They prefer a more conversational selling experience.

Doves (S) are supportive, good listeners, considerate, relationship-oriented, patient, and consistent. They value empathy in a salesperson.

Owls (C) are conscientious, process-driven, logical, detail-oriented, questioning, and organized. They want details and facts to make their decision.

To fine tune your sales pitches, use what I call the ADAPT model of selling. After I introduce the model, I’ll give specific examples of how you might tweak your sales pitch to please different personalities. Let’s get the basics down first:

  1. Assess your own style. Most, but not all, salespeople have Eagle and Parrot traits. Understand your “default” setting.
  2. Determine your prospect’s style. If you’re presenting to a room, cater to the person in charge. Examine how this person talks, stands, sits, and interacts for clues.
  3. Adjust to your prospect. Flex your personality to match the buyer’s. If you’re facing an Eagle, emulate Eagle traits. If you’re a Parrot, yes, that might feel exhausting. Someone will walk away from the meeting feeling drained, and it better be you.
  4. Perceive the impact of your flexing. Did you misread the prospect’s style? How is your pitch landing?
  5. Track reactions and results. How did ADAPTing work?

The pitch isn’t the first thing that happens in most sales meetings. You qualify the buyer, bond, and interview him or her about pain points first. Then, it’s time to pitch, and by then, the ADAPT model has revealed which personality type you’re facing.

Let’s pretend you sell a web-based conference bridge (something many of us have experienced). If you’re pitching to an Eagle, get right to the facts and bottom-line impact. They’re not overly concerned about how you’ll do it. Eagles are all about objectives:

“We’re going to reduce your conference bridge costs by 30 percent and reclaim the 10 minutes you lose in the beginning of every meeting. We’ve done that for more than 300 companies.”  

Parrots, on the other hand, respond to an emotive pitch. They want high energy and a focus on qualitative outcomes, benefits, and experiences. For instance:

“Look, everyone hates conferences bridges! They’re the reason every meeting starts 10 minutes late. We want to get you onto a platform that will automatically schedule meetings, start your calls with one tap, and save you from those awkward, ‘I can’t dial-in!’ email exchanges.”

Doves need reassurance and comfort. If you’re using PowerPoint, throw some warm client testimonials up on the screen. Keep empathy front and center:

“Your colleagues have told us about their struggles with your current conference bridge. We feel your pain – we actually created this platform because we had the same challenges. As our customers will attest, we feel it’s really important to make the transition onto our bridge quick and stress-free.”

Owls are tricky because they ask more questions and raise more objections than other personality styles. Your pitch has to anticipate their concerns:

“Some companies worry that a web-based conference bridge will be unreliable. Our system has all the bases covered. You can dial-in by phone if your internet goes down, and we use global cloud infrastructure, meaning if the nearest datacenter has issues, you’ll automatically be routed to one that is up and running. As you can see on the screen, we’ve achieved the best uptime in the industry for three years straight.”

To recap: Eagles needed objectives and results, Parrots need a good story, Doves want empathy, and Owls want the facts on how you’ll deliver. Remember, when you sell to prospects who reflect two personality styles, employ both. You can be direct and energetic for an Eagle-Parrot, or supportive and detailed for a.

Give up hunting for the perfect sales pitch. Be a Chameleon who can sense personality styles and ADAPT to them.


Merrick Rosenberg

Merrick Rosenberg co-founded Team Builders Plus in 1991 and Take Flight Learning in 2012, which he founded in 2012. He is the author of “The Chameleon: Life-Changing Wisdom for Anyone Who has a Personality or Knows Someone Who Does“ and co-author of “Taking Flight!: Master the DISC Styles to Transform Your Career, Your Relationships…Your Life“, two books about the DISC personality styles. Under Merrick’s leadership, his company has been recognized as the New Jersey Business of the Year and named one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia area. Merrick has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies in the US and around the world.