As a retailer, you deal with many different customer types during the course of the day. Some are no-nonsense folks who know exactly what they want from the moment they enter your doors and they’re on a mission to get it and get out with no fuss, no muss. Others linger in the store for ages, hemming and hawing over a particular product. And for some consumers, visiting your store is as much a social occasion as it is a mandatory shopping trip.

Because your customers come with individual personalities as diverse as their consumer needs, you and your employees should learn to recognize—and sell to—the four main personality types common to the retail landscape:

The Assertive Customer

According to HubSpot, this personality type is goal driven and competitive. They thrive on results more than personal relationships, so while they may not be the kind of person to send you a Christmas card at the Holidays, your business relationship will remain on good terms if you continuously deliver on your commitments.

Assertive personality types tend to be decisive and quick working. When they want information, they’ll want it fast, so they may grow impatient if their needs aren’t met soon enough. Assertive people generally speak in louder-than-average tones, using animated, confident body language. Typically, they speak in statements rather than questions.

How to Sell to Assertive Customers:

  • Professionalism and efficiency are extremely important! Don’t beat around the bush with assertive types. Come right to the point and emphasize how your product will solve their problems.
  • Innovative features don’t impress Assertives unless you can demonstrate their usefulness.If you can’t answer their questions, assure them you’ll find out what they want to know and get back to them promptly.
  • Play to their competitive streak by showing them how your product can put them ahead of others who don’t have it.

The Amiable or Social Customer

As the name implies, amible customer types want to establish a rapport with the people they do business with. They place significant value on personal relationships and sincerely want to trust those they buy from. Amiables have a less structured manner and unlike Assertives, they aren’t quick to make decisions, often seeking the help or approval of others.

Amiables tend to be great listeners and may ask personal questions in an effort to get to know you outside your professional role. They are friendly, calm, and patient, with a conversational style that is informal and laid-back.

While amiable personality types are generally enthusiastic about formulating creative solutions, their research may yeild less than thorough results. Expect them to require more guidance through the buying process, which can be more drawn out than usual.

Here’s How HubSpot suggests you sell to Amiable Customers:

  • Help them visualize the success or outcome they could achieve with the help of your product or service.
  • Because Amiables need to feel safe in their relationship with your brand before they feel comfortable buying from you, take time to build a rapport with them.
  • Take an authoritative role and walk them through the decision making process. Amiables can be easily overwhelmed with information, so you’ll need to help them by acting as an advisor.

The Expressive Customer

As HubSpot points out, Expressives are often referred to as “humanists” because, like Amiables, personal relationships are very important to them.  Expressive personality types are very concerned with the well being of others and will consequently want to know how their decisions affect the people around them. Additionally, they place a lot of value on mutual respect, loyalty, and friendship.

Though they tend to be people-pleasers, Expressives often have strong personalities and will use them to sway others to their way of thinking. While expressive personalities are typically creative, outgoing, and spontaneous, they do lean on their own intuition. Enthusiastic and colorful by nature, Expressives want to bond with you and feel connected on a personal level, but aren’t shy about speaking up on behalf of their beliefs. Like Assertives, they speak in statements rather than questions and don’t respond well to offhand commitments or reneging on offers.

How to sell to Expressive Customers:

  • Prove your track record with stories of how your business, product, or service has made an impact on other people’s lives. Expressives want to be reassured that you’re looking out for them.
  • Does your company offer exceptional customer service or maintain long-term partnerships with your clients? Make sure you emphasize this with Expressives.
  • While data is important, Expressives usually want to know how their buying decision affects others on a human level.

The Analytic Customer

Analytical personality types “love data, facts, and figures”, says HubSpot. They are no-nonsense people who frown upon fluff and prefer getting straight to the facts. Don’t be surprised if you’re peppered with lots of detailed questions. It also might seem as if the analytical consumer is already familiar with your business because they’ve most likely researched you beforehand.

Analytics are sticklers for deadlines, but don’t make decisions quickly. They want to thoroughly consider and understand the options available to them before making a buying decision. While Analytics are more logical and cautious than the other personality types, they are also more secure in their decisions.

Analytics are more concerned with facts than emotions. Don’t expect them to invest time getting to know you on a personal level. Furthermore, conversing with Analytics will probably be more serious, direct, and formal. Even though they’re less expressive in their gestures, you can be confident that they’re listening to you intently.

How to sell to Analytic Customers:

  • Prepare for a longer selling process. Analytics will take as much time as they need to gather the facts necessary to make a decision.
  • Because Analytics tend to research your business first, you can expect to spend less time talking about the basics and more time discussing personalized solutions for their needs.
  • At the risk of losing credibility, always provide Expressives with data when you make an assertion. Hyperbole might make Analytics suspicious that your flowery language is masking product flaws.
  • Focus on detailed information. Use specific assertions such as “Our product has increased user effectiveness by 25% or more with each year of use.” Feel free to offer more information than they ask for…they’ll probably welcome it!
  • Analytics may become annoyed by flattery or groveling. Never try to force a relationship with them!

Conclusion

“The success of retail businesses, says Business Know-how, “often hinges on how well its sales staff relates to the different types of people that walk through the doors.”

HubSpot points out that most prospects will be a mix of the personality types discussed above and may not fit neatly into just one of the four categories. That being said, once you’re familiar with the core personalities, you’ll be better able to tailor your selling strategy to fit any situation you come across.

Recognizing customer personality types and skillfully working with them at their level will not only make selling to them more fun, but it will also increase your bottom line and significantly improve your customers’ experience.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.

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