There’s a popular saying that no two snowflakes are the same, and that mentality can be applied to the customers you’re selling to. If you pay close attention to the customers walking in your store (or, if you’re in the B2B world, the decision makers you’re pitching), then you’ve probably already identified a few distinct customer personality types. If you haven’t started yet, you should start critically thinking about your customers and prospects. How do they behave? Are they extroverted and outgoing, or introverted and reserved? Do they seem organized or messy? Are they a “numbers person” or an “ideas person”? As you begin to answer these questions, you’ll probably start to notice patterns and combinations of personality traits that walk in the door again and again. These are the main customer personality types you should focus on.
Formally outlining the customer personality types you typically see can be a great exercise to help you prepare for the next time one of them walks in your door, calls you on the phone or reaches out on social media. Once you’ve figured out a few of the most common personalities you expect to encounter, you can devise a strategic approach that appeals to their likes, dislikes and ways of thinking.
Every business and industry is going to encounter its own unique set of customer personality types, but there are a few basic ones you can read up on to get started.
1. The Director
You can spot this type of person almost as soon as they walk in the door. They’re the ones used to being in charge, and they won’t hide that fact. Directors are proactive, decisive and results driven. This personality type wants to achieve a goal, and they think they know the best way to do so. A Director will walk right up to you, tell you want they want, and expect you to deliver a solution on their schedule.
The key to selling to a Director is simple – be as decisive and concise as they are, but don’t make them feel like they’re not in control. Promptly answer their requests without a lot of chit-chat, and consider offering them a few options to choose from. Allowing them to make a selection will keep them in the driver’s seat, and they’ll walk away all the happier.
2. The Collaborator
A Collaborator is almost the exact opposite of a Director. Collaborators like to make decisions as a group, so they might bring their friends into your store to help them make a selection. In the B2B world, they may delay a purchasing decision so they can run things by their teammates.
Collaborators are often tactful and adaptable, so they’re often pleasant to work with. The downside is that they may take a longer time to make a decision because they want their group to reach a consensus. Make sure you remain patient, and be sure to facilitate any discussions among the Collaborator’s group so everyone’s questions and thoughts are addressed.
3. The Social Butterfly
Social butterflies are into building relationships, and it’s essential to their purchasing habits. Rather than focusing on what they’re buying, they’re more concerned with WHO they’re buying from. They want to do business with someone they trust, so they’ll want to get to know you before making a decision.
Selling to this personality type is your opportunity to roll out the red carpet. Ask them questions about their interests and be prepared to offer personal details about yourself. The key here is to show that you’re a trustworthy person who will be willing and able to help in the long run. The downside of dealing with Social Butterflies is that you have to remember a lot of background information about them, but if you can build a good rapport then you’ve taken the first step towards earning a return customer.
4. The Analyst
Ah, the Analyst. This is the person who loves data and numbers. Information overload is a foreign concept to them, and they won’t make a decision until they’ve conducted thorough research and compared the pros and cons of each of their options.
The great thing about dealing with Analysts is that they know more than your typical customers, so you don’t have to worry about educating them on the basic features or benefits of your wares. However, this means you need to be prepared to answer more technical questions than you usually field on an average day. The best advice to keep in mind when selling to an Analyst is to never rush them. If you try to push them to make a decision before they’ve finished their research, then you risk alienating them for good.
5. The Dreamer
And finally, we have the Dreamer. These are the folks who love big picture ideas and creative solutions to solving problems. They’re more laid back than other types, and a moving story will sell them on a product or service much faster than the best numbers you can throw their way.
It’s essential not to get into the weeds when selling to a Dreamer. Focusing too much on details or numbers will bore them to the point that they walk out your door without making a purchase. Make sure to emphasize the human side of what you’re providing – how will your product or service improve their life? If you can sell them on the big picture, and avoid making it sound like too much work on their end, then you’re in the clear.
This list is a good primer, but don’t make the mistake of treating this as the end-all, be-all breakdown of the personalities you’re likely to encounter. Some customers may blur the line between personality types – for example, you could find yourself selling to someone who loves numbers and data, but wants to get to know you first (i.e. a Social Butterfly mixed with an Analyst). The trick is getting to know your own customer base so you can start outlining your own customer personality types. With this knowledge, you can devise strategies and be prepared to alter your approach depending on who you’re selling to.
For more tips on devising your approach to selling to different personality types, check out our breakdown of the top tips for driving a better customer experience.
Written by Melissa R. MacCaull
Director of Marketing, Union Savings Bank