The 4 types of retail customers

It happens over and over again. The salesperson delivers an outstanding presentation to the customers. She not only knew all the facts about her product, but also about all of her competitors. Her vocal skills were impeccable, and she portrayed professionalism and confidence. Her close was strong and affirmative.

But her customer said she would think about it and discuss it with her kids. She may as well have said, "No." What went wrong?

While it is true that everyone is different and unique, it's also true that people tend to fall into four basic behavioral types when it comes to buying a service or product. The success of the sales call is dependent upon the sales representative being able to distinguish the correct behavioral type of the prospect, the sales message and also the appropriate communication style. For example, a sales representative cannot sell the same way to Donald Trump as he can to Richard Simmons, and vice versa. The product is the same in both sales calls, but in order to close the sale effectively, the approach and the message should be different for each of the following four categories.

The Direct Type

These buyers are usually Type A personalities - think Donald Trump. They are usually in a hurry and tend to be very direct in their conversations. These buyers are often blunt and interrupt the sales representative constantly. They state their opinions as fact. They are impatient and demanding, wanting to get to the bottom line quickly.

While you want to be direct and specific, provide alternatives so that the Direct Type buyer can make the decision to buy. Let this buyer speak while you listen. Do not go into all the details or try to control the situation. Ensure the Direct Type "wins." You must act quickly, because this buyer decides fast. Whatever happens, don't take issues personally.

The Interpersonal Buyer

These buyers are very friendly and excitable, often animated - think Richard Simmons. They cannot focus on details and jump from subject to subject. Because they don't always have the ability to listen for long periods, they may ask the same questions several times. Interpersonal buyers are more interested in forming a relationship than they are in buying.

Schedule time for chatting and let these buyers speak, giving recognition as appropriate. Talk about people and feelings. As you converse with this buyer type, move closer and maintain a positive atmosphere. You want to show how your product will help to achieve popularity and recognition. Focus on the people aspects. Do not fail to socialize. Also, do not set hard restrictions, unless absolutely necessary.

The Status Quo Type

These buyers usually appear calm and do not get easily excited. Imagine speaking with Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show. They listen carefully and ask specific questions. Completely new ideas or products make these buyers uncomfortable.

It is key to slow down your presentation and build trust. Provide the necessary information that these buyers need logically, and secure commitment piece by piece. Ask specific questions to find out true needs, and then provide support. It is also advantageous to provide precedents or examples of previous success to reduce uncertainty. Be sincere and do not dominate.

The Contemplative Buyer

These buyers are usually very quiet. They focus on details and ask questions. The Albert Einstein characters of the world study specifications and other information carefully. In fact, they have probably done some research on your product prior to meeting you.

When selling to this type, patiently provide facts and plenty of detailed information. Go slowly and do not invade his or her private space. Avoid small talk and personal issues. Listen attentively and then answer questions calmly and carefully. Be thorough; remember to include all relevant information, using written supporting documentation. Find out what the key issues are and focus on them. Don't move too fast, move too close or lose patience in providing all the requested information. Also, don't expect decisions right away.

In order to be successful, sales representatives must tailor their approaches and messages very differently for each buyer type. Let's examine the differences below:

As the numbers suggest, those who try to use the same canned message will be effective only 25 percent of the time because the approach and message will be effective only for the buyer-behavior type it was designed for. The ability to recognize various behavior types and adapt the sales approach appropriately takes training and practice.

Also, just as buyers fall into buying types, so do sellers. More times than not, sales representatives will have to learn (and train) themselves on how to adapt their own behavioral type to the specific customers they're working with.

Success in the sales arena will increase exponentially by training staff how to identify the behavioral type of their customers and how to adapt their styles and messages appropriately.
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