4 Types of Customers (and How to Sell to Each of Them)

From easygoing shoppers who like to chat to focused shoppers who want only the facts, learn how to connect with different personalities.
Do you know your customers
Adapt to your different customers' needs by getting to know them better. (Photo: Roobcio/Shutterstock)

As a small business owner, you have the opportunity to get to know customers and adapt to their needs in a way that larger companies can’t.

In order to maintain customers or attract new ones, it’s important to recognize the types of customers you will encounter and their specific qualities so you can tailor your approach accordingly.

To help you do this, we’ve enlisted the help of Teri Yanovitch, a customer loyalty expert, and co-author of “Unleashing Excellence – The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service.”

The stickler

These customers know exactly what they want. They are usually impatient shoppers who want immediate results and prefer that your interaction with them to be brief and direct.

“These customers are not looking for a lot of social interactions or personal connection,” Yanovitch said. “It is very task-oriented. They want you to be competent and know the answers.”

With these customers, Yanovitch said it’s important to get straight to the point. They expect employees to be knowledgeable, so it’s vital for small business owners to train their employees thoroughly.

“If they don’t know the answers, then there should be a book or someone they can refer to or call very quickly to answer the questions,” Yanovitch said.

The socialite

These customers are usually in a good mood and want to chat with you.

“They are building a relationship before they ask what they are looking for,” Yanovitch said.

“They enjoy people and they enjoy the social interaction of the purchase just as much as the actual purchase itself.”

For this category, Yanovitch advised small business owners to “reciprocate” – be enthusiastic while inquiring about their lives.

“Ask them about how the last item worked out for them,” she said. “They want you to have a social interaction before you ask, ‘Why are you here today?’”

Also, speak in general terms. “You will lose them in minute details. They are looking for you to make your product or service seem like something fun and interesting.”

The researcher

These people have done their homework and expect to be treated fairly. They will appear as more reserved in nature and more deliberate, thinking things through.

“[They’ve] read all the testimonials online about the product or service,” Yanovitch said. “They read the customer reports, and have been on Yelp and Facebook and checked out what has been said about the product and service. And they want to be treated very fairly. They don’t want to think someone has had a better deal than them.”

The more positive testimonials you have, the better chance you have of reeling them in. Also, being very matter-of-fact with the details of the product and reassuring them is beneficial. “They want to think you are taking care of them,” Yanovitch said.

The analyst

These customers are perfectionists who like facts and figures. They have studied your type of service and product so rigorously, they probably know more about your product or service than you do (or like to think they do).

The analyst will approach you and say, “These are my specifications. How will you meet them?” Yanovitch said this customer wants to be right, so a small business owner should openly acknowledge and appreciate the customer’s hard work.

“If you need to correct them, you need to be very tactful,” she said. “Say something like, ‘Yes, you were right in going that direction, but something has been added, etc.’ These customers take great pride in that they are very well prepared and they want you to be just as prepared to explain the details of your service or product.”

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