Knowing your customers is essential.
You’ve probably heard that before – am I right?
Although a bit of a cliche, it’s still true.
Customers are key to any company. And if you want to be successful, you have to know your customers well in order to predict their wishes and needs so you can adapt your product range and communication towards them.
But that’s a lot easier said than done.
One of the reasons this is difficult is that (surprise) people are different. Obviously, there are a number of biological, psychological, and environmental causes for people’s differences (let’s not get into them here), but as people are different, we need to handle people in different ways as well.
In this article, I’ll present you with 4 different customer types and explain what characterizes them, how they differ – and how you win them over. Each type has her own preferences, and the better you know them and their individual characteristics, the better jo can serve them.
This will lead to higher customer satisfaction and, ultimately, better bottom line figures.
The advice in this article is for anyone who speaks directly to customers on a daily basis. You might be a retailer, hairdresser, real estate broker, coffee shop owner, or any other line of work that involves talking to people daily.
Now, let’s take a look at the first customer type.
1. Miss Know-it-all
Miss Know-it-all is the customer who always knows best – and doesn’t mind telling you about it. She knows what she wants and doesn’t hesitate to go after it full force. She’s critical, detail-oriented, and direct, and all in all, she might seem a bit cocky.
She believes in herself is unwavering, and she prefers to do her shopping without the help of shop assistants. So how do you sway her?
Here are a few tips:
Miss Know-it-all appreciates efficiency. She didn’t come here to talk, so don’t waste her time with small-talk. Listen to her, pay attention to details, and get straight to the point.
Communicate clearly, and use facts to point out how your product meets her need or solves her problem.
If you’re unsure about how to handle her, it’s best to ask a colleague for help or tell her that you’ll follow-up on her question. As she always comes prepared, she’ll instantly see through your run-of-the-mill sales talk and any attempts at explaining something you’re not quite sure about.
She’s an adept communicator and will press on to get what she wants. Don’t take her bait and argue with her.
Remain composed, answer briefly, and avoid any bad excuses and evasive explanations.
- Be concise and precise in your communication. Avoid arguing with her – you’ll end up in a meaningless power struggle. Instead, pay attention, and praise her for her knowledge.
- If you’re insecure, ask a colleague for help. Don’t forget: Miss Know-it-all is well-informed and will smell blood if your arguments are faltering.
2. Miss Chatterbox
Miss Chatterbox is easy to spot:
She’s outgoing, smiling, and talkative(!) – and she loves talking about everything and nothing at all, which sometimes can make it hard for you to do your job and help other customers.
When you meet Miss Chatterbox, take your time. Listen to her and ask questions, but don’t just let her ramble on. Take control by directing the conversation to the situation at hand.
As Miss Chatterbox often bases her decision on emotions, don’t go into detail too much, but spark her interest by talking to her emotions. Paint a picture for her. Share your own experiences, if possible.
With her, you are selling yourself, too. If she doesn’t like you, she’s not very likely to buy from you.
If she gets too talkative – and creates a line by the cashier – simply point out in a respectful way that you have to get back to work.
- Miss Chatterbox loves talking and telling stories. Listen to her, show you care, but if the conversation goes off-topic, kindly direct her back to the here and now.
- Focus more on building a relationship than on the product. You’re selling yourself here.
- Take your time and get to know her. This will pay off 10 times if she likes you.
3. Miss Mute
Miss Mute is the complete opposite of Miss Chatterbox. She doesn’t speak much, and she may even seem a bit reserved and hard to get in touch with.
For this reason, of the 4 customer types, she’s the hardest one to handle. Her cues are few and far between, and the possibilities of meeting her needs are limited.
Your most precious tool when dealing with her is trust.
Make her feel safe, acknowledge her presence, and offer your assistance without being pushy. Ask her if there’s anything you can do for her. If she says she’s just looking, it’s best to leave her to herself. Instead, let her know that you’re nearby in case she needs your help.
Maybe she’s not looking for anything specific – maybe she is. Observe her. If she looks like she needs help, offer your assistance in a respectful and professional manner. Miss Mute will easily feel caught off guard, so you have to be careful around her to make her feel welcome without being intrusive.
- Miss Mute can be quite reserved and often wants to be left alone while shopping. Smile at her, and let her know that you’re nearby if she needs help, but give her time and space.
- Make sure you’re available. Be visible and signal that you’re ready to help her anytime she needs it.
- Avoid cunning sales techniques. You’ll most likely scare her off by trying this.
4. Miss Indecisive
Miss Indecisive is the customer who responds to your every question with a ‘let me think about that’ – whereupon she’ll go home to ponder her decision, search the web for reviews, compare prices, read all details about the product and, finally, in a fit of frustration, decide not to buy anything at all.
Obviously, there can be several explanations for this behavior, but often it’s because the wealth of opportunities makes her hesitant and afraid of making the wrong decision (also known as ‘The Paradox of Choice’). Or she doesn’t know what she’s really looking for.
Instead of letting her wait (and suffer), you can help her.
Your primary goal here is to find out what she really needs. Ask her about what she’s looking for, and which problem she wants to solve with the purchase. Try to find out what she knows and what she doesn’t know about your products.
Now give her an overview of her options, and provide her with the pros and cons of each option. If possible, let her try the products. Be systematic, and refer to any kind of detailed product material you have.
It’s important that she feels safe. Be patient, and avoid pushing her towards a decision. If she regrets her purchase, she’ll not return to your store.
- Be prepared for a long sales process. Miss Indecisive wants to collect all relevant information before making up her mind.
- It’s your job to guide her through the decision process. Listen to her, and ask open-ended questions (questions that cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’). Give her an overview of her options as well as pros and cons for each one.
- Provide her with as much information as possible – product sheets are pure gold here.
- Don’t force the sale. It’s key that she feels you’re there to help, not just make a sale.
Obviously, these four customer types are based on generalizations, and you’ll likely meet customers who are a mixture of them. Therefore, you shouldn’t see the customer types described here as definitive, but rather as guidelines you can use in your daily work to adapt the way you approach customers to suit their needs. Now, all that’s left to say is good luck!
Enrico, Rick. “How to handle 4 different personality types of customers.”
Ye, Leslie. “How to sell to 4 different personality types”