It's surprising to some people in customer service positions to discover that customers come into stores wanting more than just a good value. Customers also bring in emotional needs, which sales associates must fill in addition to finding customers the product they're seeking. Some customers come seeking a connection to others or an affirmation of their own values, while others need reassurance that they're making the right buying decision. Understanding customers' non-tangible needs when they enter a store is key to being a successful sales associate.
There are many different types of customers, and knowing the differences in their personality types can help sales associates in more ways than one. Knowing what various types of customers are looking for will help associates know how to sell to these various people, and it will also help associates avoid problems from customers who don't get what they want. Here are four of the most common personality types retail sales associates are likely to encounter:
1. The take-charge customer. This type of customer wants to make an informed decision in the least possible amount of time. They will ask direct questions and want short and to-the-point answers. They will often interrupt sales associates who takes too long to get to the point, and always feel that they know best. It's best not to give this sort of customer too many options — if they come into the store seeking something specific but are trying to decide between two or three options, do not guide them to a fourth option unless it's obviously superior to the others, or they will get frustrated. These customers want confirmed what they already know, so often they've already made a decision before entering the store, and merely want the sales associate to confirm they're doing the right thing.
2. The deal-seeker. This type of customer always wants to feel like they've gotten the best possible deal — much better than most other shoppers. These customers appear when you have big sales or clearance events, and will try to talk you down on the price if there's any room for negotiation. The way to make a sale to these customers is by making sure they feel like they're getting away with an incredible deal. You can often increase sales by showing customers how buying an additional product will get them a better deal on their current purchases.
3. The sociable type. This type of customer wants to talk and tell stories, often unrelated to the products. They may ask the same question several times and not focus for long on the task of choosing a product, as they often have a hard time listening, but enjoy talking. Let these buyers talk as they need to unless you have other customers waiting, and if you do need to interrupt a story to help someone else, be polite when you do so. Given affirmation and signs of interest in what the customer has to say — remember that genuine interest is always better than feigned.
4. The emotional-connection buyer. This sort of customer wants to make an interpersonal connection to sales associates. They will not buy from sales associates they don't like, even if the product is what they're looking for. This type of customer is similar to the sociable type in needing to connect with the sales associate, but is much more reserved than the sociable customers, often preferring to listen and ask questions rather than talk. They need to feel like they have something in common with the sales associate, so when associates sense they have an emotional-connection buyer on their hands, they should try to find similarities between themselves and the buyer. For example, they might say, “I see you're wearing a shirt from X university. My sister went there too. Did you go there?” or “I own those same shoes!” (Note: don't lie to force an emotional connection where there is none. This always backfires.)
About the Author:
Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Outbounding.com. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. Her hobbies include kayaking, watercolor, and doing marketing work for www.retailpackaging.com.
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