By Jake Poinier
If you’ve spent any time in the corporate world, you’ve probably taken DiSC or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality tests. Ironically enough, taking a Myers-Briggs at my last corporate job hastened my departure: In an “aha” moment, I realized that my type, ENTP (click the link for details on what makes me tick), was diametrically opposed to my boss’s type. I’d been plotting my escape for nearly a year, but the test confirmed what I suspected in my head about how we saw the world so differently. It also indicated that my personality would be good for entrepreneurship and therefore freelancing. I left about a month later.
Personality tests are not a crystal ball by any means, but they can help you understand a bit more about your strengths and weaknesses, and how you react under stress. For a freelancer, that can make them a powerful tool.
More important, if you do a little bit of research on the other types, you can start identifying what types your prospective freelance clients and current clients are. That, of course, enables you to modify how you treat those clients as individuals.
One of the things I learned during my two-year stint as a sales manager for a custom-magazine publishing company was how different each of the clients were that came from the different salespeople:
- Tim’s were hard-driving, number-crunching folks who wouldn’t believe anything unless they saw it in a spreadsheet. (Conversely, if you were good at spreadsheets, you could make them believe almost anything.) You had to get right to the point, or they’d cut you off. It took a lot to win them over, but were very loyal once you did.
- Frank’s sales were usually very personable and easygoing. They were the most pleasant to work with, but also had trouble with deadlines and weren’t very detail oriented. You had to shmooze them into compliance.
- Bill’s sales were best described as aloof. They weren’t as driven as Tim’s, nor as friendly as Frank’s. They were not terribly loyal, because they were never very dedicated in the first place. Anytime Bill made a sale, I knew they weren’t in for the long haul.
The personality tests probably won’t tell you anything that you don’t know (or at least suspected) about yourself. But having an understanding of what motivates or irritates a client is essential to creating a lasting bond.
Have you taken one of these personality tests or something else? Do you use personality-oriented techniques in the sales process? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Contributing blogger Jake Poinier runs Boomvang Creative Group, a Phoenix-based editorial services firm. He also blogs about freelancing at DoctorFreelance.com — most recently about freelance ghostwriting rates.