What does it take to succeed at the highest levels of politics? Surprisingly, it may be the same combination of traits that is associated with real estate sales success.
As a psychologist, I have always been interested in behavioral style and how it provides a mirror through which we can examine both our own behaviors as well as those of our clients.
As the 2012 presidential race heats up, here’s a fun look at some past and present candidates, my quick assessment of their preferred behavioral styles, and some lessons learned for those of us in the real estate industry.
While I’m not a big fan of most psychological testing simply due to the amount of statistical error, I am a fan of Target Training International’s "DISC" assessment, which can be a relatively accurate predictor of sales success. The DISC assessment evaluates four key behavioral styles.
1. "D" is for dominance
The person who scores high on the "D" factor has a high-drive, get-it-done attitude. Criticisms pretty much roll off their backs. Their motto is, "It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." When a "D" confronts a problem, her attitude is "Bring it on!" They are ambitious, strong-willed and aggressive. They are also likely to "shoot from the hip."
2. "I" is for influencing
People who score high on the "I" factor of the DISC are "people’s people." They tend to be warm, trusting and optimistic. They love to talk and are great fun to be around, but they may not be very effective at getting things done unless they also have a high score on the "D" factor.
3. "S" is for steadiness
People who score high on the "S" factor tend to have regular patterns that they follow. They may have the same food for lunch everyday and usually do the same things the same way. Breaking out of their comfort zone can be a challenge. They tend to be patient, persistent, unemotional and dislike sudden change.
4. "C" is for compliance
The person who scores high on the "C" factor tends to be detail-oriented. Following the rules matters. They are careful, cautious, and want to do it right the first time. Engineers and accountants normally score high on the "C" factor.
Target Training International’s research shows that the profile for a successful salesperson is one where the person scores high on the "D" and "I" factors. The primary factor that predicts sales success at a 70-72 percent level is also scoring high on the "utilitarian" factor.
For example, a person who has a high "D" and high utilitarian score may be interested in new technology, but it will always be through the prism of, "How can I make money with this?" If the person doesn’t see a practical application then they’re on to the next new thing.
So who would you hire in what positions if you were running a real estate company? Anyone who has been president or aspires to be president definitely has a high-driving personality with a strong "D" factor. So from that perspective, virtually any of them could succeed in real estate sales because they’re so driven.
It’s the "D" coupled with the other factors that will differentiate how successful that person will be.
1. Off-the-chart "D" with an off-the-chart "I"
Possible examples: Bill Clinton, Rick Perry, Donald Trump
This combination represents more than 80 percent of the mega-producing real estate agents in the country. They will knock on doors, won’t take "no" for an answer, and will do whatever is necessary to get the business.
Because of their high "I" factor, they are charismatic, they connect easily and naturally with potential clients, and are known for their strong networking talents. These are also the agents who are most likely to get into trouble, as they’re inclined to take action first and worry about the consequences later. Furthermore, because they just want to be liked, they often promise more than they can deliver. (Make sure your E&O is up to date!)
2. Strong "D" combined with a strong "C"
Possible examples: Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney
These people tend to be more detail-oriented than people-oriented. Because of their high "C" factor, they are good at handling details and may often be in charge of keeping the agents and the company out of litigation. The "D" means they have no problem making decisions, but they are more likely to weigh their options carefully as opposed to the shoot-from-the-hip style of the super-high "D" and "I" types. A number of CEOs of major real estate franchises have this profile.
3. High "I" with a high "C"
Possible example: Barack Obama
This is an unusual combination. When the "I" is dominant with the "C" factor, you have someone who has great personal charisma but can get bogged down in terms of taking action because they feel it’s more important to get it right than it is to act quickly. Consequently, an agent with this combination may talk about prospecting, but may never get around to it because they feel they must do it perfectly. When they do take action, it will be after considerable thought and examination of all details.
4. High "S" coupled with high "C"
Presidents get to Washington believing that they can drive their agenda, much like everything else in their lives. What most aren’t prepared for is a bureaucracy packed with slow-moving "S" and "C" types who resist change.
This is the same situation that takes place when a CEO of a company or a top-producing salesperson must deal with the board of Realtors or their state licensing entity. One group is concerned with getting it done and the other is concerned about making sure the details are handled and the rules are followed to the letter.
5. Verbal processors
There’s one other factor to consider that gets a plenty of politicians and Realtors in trouble. It’s called "verbal processing." Verbal processors "think out loud." In other words, they seem to take one position and then as they’re talking, they will think about the merits of the other side and shift their position.
In this case, they’re not lying, but verbally working through what their opinion is. The problem: as with politicians, when real estate agents open their mouths they are held accountable for what they say. You never know when your words can and will be used against you.