Platinum Rule Selling: “Directors”… the Initiators!


This book has been voted “Top 50 Sales Books” by Top Sales World magazine every year since it was published. The art of adapting to all four behavioral styles not only increases sales, but also carries over into our personal relationships. Adapting to both pace and priority reduces interpersonal tension, but also increases levels of trust. Here is a chapter on the “High-D” or “Directing” behavior…

 Directors… The Great Initiators

Directors initiate change, momentum and growth. They focus on attaining their goals, and their key need is to achieve their bottom-line results. The driving need for results, combined with their motto of “Lead, follow, or get out of the way,” explains their no-nonsense, direct approach to getting things accomplished.

Directors are driven by an inner need to be in personal control. They want to take charge of situations so they can be sure of attaining their goals.

Directors Need Achievement and Control

Directors want to win, so they may naturally challenge people or practices in the process. They accept challenges, take authority and plunge headfirst into solving problems. They tend to focus on administrative and operational controls and can work quickly and impressively by themselves.

Directors are naturals at being in control. They tend to be independent, strong-willed, precise, goal-oriented, and competitive with others… especially in a business environment. They try to shape their environment in order to overcome obstacles en route to their accomplishments. They demand freedom to manage themselves and others, and use their drive to be on top to become winners.

Directors like to get things done and make things happen. They start, juggle and maintain many projects concurrently. They may continue to add projects to their juggling routine until they are overloaded and then drop everything. They call this a “re-evaluation of their priorities.” After reducing their workload, and stress levels, they often immediately start the whole process over again. Their motivation pattern contributes to a Director’s tendency to be a “workaholic.”

Their primary skills are their ability to get things done, lead others and make decisions. Directors have the ability to focus on one task… at the exclusion of everything else. They can block out doorbells, sirens, or other people while channeling all their energies into the specific job at hand.

On the Other Hand…

With each of the four behavioral styles, negative traits may accompany many of the positive attributes. Any characteristic, when taken to an extreme, has a shadow side.

For the Director, some negative traits may include stubbornness, impatience and an appearance of toughness. Directors tend to take control of other people and can have a low tolerance for the feelings, attitudes and shortcomings among co-workers and subordinates. Directors may annoy others because their constant need to come out on top can be offensive. With the Director, there are not “nine ways to skin a cat,” there is only one way… the one preferred by the Director!

Directors like to move at a fast pace and tend to become impatient with delays. It is not unusual for a Director to call someone and launch into a conversation without saying “Hello.” Oftentimes, Directors tend to view others who move at a slower speed as less competent.

Their weaknesses tend to include impatience, intolerance, poor listening habits and insensitivity to the needs of others. Their complete focus on their own goals and immediate tasks may make them appear aloof and uncaring.

One other thing to remember about Directors is that they will hold you to the terms and agreement of the sale. However, the same rules may not apply to them, because if the terms and agreement of the sale become inconvenient to them, they will lobby hard for you to bend the rules to accommodate their needs. If this happens, offer concessions sparingly (giving in will be seen as weakness) and be prepared to defend your decision to stick to the original agreement. Whenever you give a concession to a Director, get one in return – concession for concession. You might offer to negotiate new terms and agreements on future sales. Earning respect with Directors is critical to a long-term relationship.

Directors are Decisive

Directors embrace challenges, take authority, make decisions quickly, and expect others to do the same. They prefer to work with people who are decisive, efficient, receptive, competent and intelligent.

You may often find Directors in top management positions, and their personal strengths often contribute to their success in jobs such as a hard-driving reporter, a stockbroker, an independent consultant … or a drill sergeant! Under pressure, Directors often get rid of their anger by ranting, raving or challenging others. While relieving their own inner tensions, they often create stress and tension within others.

 “Winning isn’t Everything…”

The competitive nature of the Director is captured by Vince Lombardi’s now-famous statement that, “Winning isn’t everything… it’s the only thing!” Directors can be so single-minded that they forget to take the time to “stop and smell the roses.” If they do remember, they may return and comment, “I smelled twelve roses today … how many did you smell?”

The Social Scene with Directors

Directors tend to take charge in social settings… sometimes inappropriately. Their relationships would improve if they would demonstrate their respect for other people’s rights and opinions, allowing others to take charge… while “letting go.” Directors have trouble having fun for fun’s sake and usually have a specific purpose in mind. The competitive Director has a tendency to try to win even in relaxed social settings. He is always conscious of his standing in the “biggest and best” games. “Who has the biggest house?” “Who gives the best parties?” “Who plays the best golf?”

Directors often intertwine business and friendships. They like to mix their own business interests with pleasure, so they often pick friends from their work pool. Friendships often hinge on how much the friend agrees with the Director and helps him achieve his goals. Potential friendships are like an experiment with the Director: If it works, fine. If not, goodbye!

Director humor can be biting, often directed at others. Directors tend to take themselves too seriously and could benefit from learning to relax, laugh more and enjoying the lighter side of their own – and others’ – actions.

Typical social behaviors of the Director may include:

  • Competing actively in almost everything
  • Participating in games or contests to win
  • Wanting to know the purpose of a function
  • Talking shop at gatherings
  • Choosing friends by experimentation

Preferred social situations for a Director:

  • Having many options from which to choose, for example: either jogging, attending an event, dining out, or playing cards
  • Paying more attention to tactile things; less to emotions
  • Doing only what they prefer to do
  • Occasions that favor direct humor with an opportunity to demonstrate their talents
  • Having a group subject to their control
  • Being in charge of something at social events and activities: judging, giving directions, chairing a fund-raiser

The Director Style at Work

The Director can be an excellent problem solver and leader. Higher power positions and/or career areas motivate them (situations where they can take charge).

You will often find Directors in the following types of positions:

  • President, CEO, or the formally recognized leader
  • Politician
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Military officer
  • Executive
  • Manager
  • Entrepreneur
  • General contractor
  • Coach

A typical Director sees himself as a solutions-oriented manager who enjoys a challenge just “because it’s there.” He likes the opportunity to complete tasks in a creative manner. He is generally viewed as having a high level of confidence, even when it isn’t actually the case. The Director is often the first person to arrive in the morning and the last person to leave in the evening. At the extreme, their high results orientation can lead to an overextended work pattern and result in neglect for their personal and social lives.

Directors are often the first person at work to have a new efficiency “toy.” They were the first to have a computer, a fax, mobile phone and (of course) a PDA. Saving time is always a priority for Directors so they can accomplish more.

Directors gain energy by taking risks. They do not feel as bound by conventional restrictions as other types and often feel free to bend rules that get in the way of results. They seek opportunities for change (or they create them!) just to satisfy their need for results. They may even gravitate toward high-risk situations because the excitement of the challenge fuels their drive to exert control in new areas or ways.

Directors realize that results can be gained through teamwork (and may actually develop a management approach that demands and supports teamwork), but it requires adaptation. The nature of the Director is to focus on his own individual actions and accomplishments. In his biography, Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler Corporation (a “Director legend”), discusses how he learned to merge his temperament with other styles as he finally arrived at the following management philosophy: “In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, products, profits. People come first. Unless you have a good team, you can’t do much with the other two.” Iacocca knew that good people were the means to an end.

Director business characteristics include:

  • Prefers controlled timeframes
  • Seeks personal control
  • Gets to the point quickly
  • Strives to feel important and be noteworthy in their jobs
  • Demonstrates persistence and single-mindedness in reaching goals
  • Expresses high ego need
  • Prefers to downplay feelings and relationships
  • Focuses on task actions that lead to achieving tangible outcomes
  • Implements changes in the workplace
  • Tends to freely delegate duties, enabling them to take on more tasks and pursue more goals

The preferred business situations for Directors:

  • Calling the shots and telling others what to do
  • Challenging workloads to fuel their energy levels
  • Personally overseeing, or at least knowing about, their employees’ or co-workers’ business activities
  • Saying what’s on their minds without being concerned about hurting anybody’s feelings
  • Taking risks and being involved in facilitating changes
  • Interpreting the rules and answering to themselves alone
  • Interested in the answers to “what” questions
  • Seeing a logical road toward advancement of achieving goals

The Director Salesperson

If you are (or someone you know) is a Director salesperson, the natural tendency is to launch rather quickly into a sales presentation. You get right to the point by telling your prospect the bottom-line benefit of using your product to provide a solution. Your natural tendency is to spend little time on chitchat or getting to know your prospects… unless it’s required to get the sale! Directors move quickly, and if a prospect does not see the benefit of your proposal, you move on to the next prospect.

Directors have a fast, efficient manner and total focus on goals that make them more comfortable than most people with cold calling. They are able to tolerate negatives as a necessary part of the sales process. Their bottom-line orientation fits their focus on products or services, which adds efficiency to their customer acquisition processes. Directors tend to sell by painting a convincing picture of the benefits of their product or service.

Their best “fit” is with standard products or services where a match can be determined. Products or services requiring lengthy tailoring, customization and/or development (such as complex computer, communication or consultation systems) try their patience. Directors prefer sales processes where quick decisions can be made based on rational, concrete, reality-based data. Directors often like working with products that fill a recognized need rather than in areas where expectations and opportunities have to be developed in conjunction with each customer.

Director salespeople are very careful about time… especially their own! They tend to make specific time appointments and arrive punctually. They are clear about their desired results from customer contacts and quickly present the features and benefits offered by their product or service.

The Director Customer

The Director customer will make decisions relatively quickly when presented with factual information. He wants to see the bottom-line impact of the product (or service) solution and wants you to provide enough detail (but not too much!) so that he judges you as competent to handle his business. Directors generally are businesslike, straightforward and to-the-point; they prefer others to be the same. They expect people to take their goals and concerns seriously and offer them solutions. They respect salespeople who look and act in a professional manner. Also, they expect the salesperson to deliver the results they promised.

What this customer wants to know is how your product or service will solve his problems most effectively right now. The Director is not a natural listener, so details and lengthy explanations are likely to be lost on him. The salesperson is expected to provide immediately useful information and recommendations that will move the Director toward his goals. Director customers will often ask detailed questions more as a test of the salesperson’s credibility than because he wants to know the answers. If it is necessary to provide detailed information to a Director, it should be done in writing so the Director can review it later.

Director customers look for product solutions that will help them achieve their goals. They maintain control of the sales process and prefer salespeople who provide the information and data necessary to make a sound decision. They are competitive and respond well to products or services that are “the best.”

Directors expect results now and are impatient with waiting. They expect salespeople to respond to impossible deadlines even if it means sacrificing personal time. They aren’t especially interested in developing relationships with the salesperson, but it is important for them to believe that the salesperson can help them get their results. They like being recognized for their achievements, and respond well to awards banquets, “special customer” celebrations and other recognitions of their involvement with the buying/owning process.

Time is an important factor for the goal-oriented Director. He does not tolerate having salespeople waste his time and he does not want to waste theirs. This includes time spent on “unimportant” chitchat. Directors are more comfortable as team leaders than as team players. Because of this, they tend to make decisions themselves rather than getting others involved.

Directors like to have choices. They like to have options and exercise their decision-making power. Each possibility should be a reasonable choice backed by evidence supporting its probability of success. This type of buyer has clear objectives to achieve and responds to those who can demonstrate that their product or service can efficiently achieve results.

Directors at a Glance:

  • Need to be in charge; dislike inaction
  • Act quickly and decisively
  • Think practically… not theoretically or hypothetically
  • Want highlighted facts
  • Strive for results
  • Need personal freedom to manage self and others
  • Like changes and new opportunities
  • Prefer to delegate details
  • Cool, independent and competitive
  • Have a low tolerance for feelings, attitudes or advice of others
  • Work quickly and impressively by themselves
  • Want to be recognized for their accomplishments
  • Easily stimulated to engage in arguments and conflict
  • Interested in administrative controls

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