Thursday, June 16

How to sell [successfully] to the 6 types of customers

As small business owners we strive for a win-win situation everytime we make a transaction, however, humans are complex beings with quirky personality traits, and as far as buying habits go they generally fall into six main categories or "customer types" or a combination of these.

Find out how you can better understand and handle your customers. Hopefully the following list will help identify your customer's "type" and perhaps you might even discover which type you are :)
p.s Selling solely online is even more of a challenge, as there is no body language to take cues from.  You'll need to hone your communication skills and read "between the lines".

1. The complainer

This customer will find fault with everything. Be it your price point, the quality of your product or the service. It's very hard to please this customer. Identifiying traits are impatience, irritation and a provocative stance.

► how to handle

Above all, keep calm and professional at all times! Don't bore the customer with long, drawn-out explanations. Instead impress him / her with your expertise and efficienct problem solving.

2. The suspicious one

This customer probably had an unsatisfactory buying experience prior to visiting your shop. He / She is highly critical of anything you say about your product. Most likely this customer is very knowledgable about your product range too.

► how to handle

Take him / her seriously and don't pressure him / her into buying! First, find the source of mistrust in a particular product. Then provide detailed information to all of his / her questions and better yet deliver solid and convincing facts on your product. This will put him / her at ease and erase any misundertstandings.

3. The questioner

This customer type will bombard you with questions! He / she will want to know every last detail.

► how to handle

Above all be patient and don't interrupt! This type really appreciates being listened to and having all of his / her questions answered in minutiae. Hang in there :)

4. The know-it-all

Usually, this type will approach you with a firm opinion about your product. Know-it-alls are confident and yes, knowledgable to a degree, but still expect precise information from you. Quite often these customers provoke a verbal sparring match as they simply love being right and correcting you!

► how to handle

This customer needs to be handled with utmost diplomacy. It would be unwise to lecture him / her. Always remain calm and acknowledge his / her competence as this type craves recognition. If he / she doesn't budge from his / her opinion, try asking questions that require him / her to elaborate. Express appreciation for his / her knowledge and then gently make a few suggestions.

5. The chatterbox

This type will talk a mile a minute and will probably deviate from the business at hand and let you in on some unsolicited details of his / her private life! It will be difficult to get a word in edgewise.

► how to handle

First of all, don't dismiss the private ramblings! Acknowledge them and reply with something appropriate. Patiently wait until there's a slight pause - even chatterboxes need to draw a breath at some point - and firmly steer the conversation back to the product. Usually this type will interrupt you straight away, but the trick is not to remark on it. Remain calm and patiently wait for your next opportunity to speak. While it's quite exhausting to try to make a sale, this customer will appreciate your listening skills, and if you cleverly make use of the small breaks in conversation to expound on your product you're this close to sealing the deal.

6. The undecided

This is probably the most common customer type. The undecided customer isn't entirely sure what he / she is looking for, constantly weighs the pro's and con's of the product and often repeats the same questions. Usually, this means that the customer is looking for someone (you) to provide a final convincing argument tipping the scale to pro.

►  how to handle

Now's your time to show your excellent customer service skills. Describe the product in simple terms. Guide the customer to come to a decision by saying (writing) why the product will be the best choice for him / her. Gently persuade him / her with affirmative statements and when the sale is finally made always extol the customer's decision!

Remember, there are no good or bad customers, simply your way of handling them. And if you don't get it right / make the sale, no worries. Over time and with practice you will easily identify the customer types and know how to respond accordingly. Happy Sales!

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  1. Liebste Duni,
    das sind sehr interessante Tips :O)
    Ich wünsche Dir noch einen wudnerbaren Nachmittag!
    ♥ Allerliebste Grüße , Claudia ♥

  2. You really have to learn to be a diplomat when working in customer service.
    Great post, Duni!

  3. Great advice, Duni! I think this is one of the hardest skills to learn for a lot of new Etsy sellers (or even some old ones haha). I know I'm still working on it! :)

  4. Good information for anyone who has to work with the public. You run in to all kinds. I would have to say as a customer I normally fall in to the undecided category

  5. Great comprehensive list here! I seem to get "the questioners" the most!

  6. These are great tips! When I had my clothing label, there were so many "questioners" (which is totally understandable because they were often buying online), and you give great advice.

  7. Great tips Duni. It definitely is much easier to read people in person and handle the situation. I do get all the types online, even the chatterbox!

  8. ha! you really have them covered here! great post and good tips

  9. after a few years online business, I can definatelly identify my buyers much more easier as before. This is a good info for a beginners/ and not ... thank you for posting it! it may help many to deal with a different types/ kind of customers. Harder to deal with some out of this categories... lately I got one who claims that package never delivered even in USPS has delivery in mailbox status ... still don't know what to do with this kind problem ?

    1. Occasionally I get difficult ones too. It's a good thing you have confirmation of delivery! You might like to ask the customer whether the neighbor accepted the parcel in her absence. It happens...

  10. Liebe Duni,
    vielen Dank für diese vielen guten Tipps!
    Kann ich guuuuuuuut gebrauchen! ;-)
    Schöne Grüße

  11. Great advice and tips, thanks Duni:)

  12. Great advice and tips, thanks Duni:)


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