There well may be dozens of different types of buyers (and sellers) depending on how you look at things, but I like to think of three distinct groups for each. You’re welcome to dial into our complimentary, 21 minute conference call today and learn more. If you can’t make it today, please join us on another Monday – there is no selling on the call, just 21 minutes of sales topics and inspiration.
We´ll talk about buyers first.
The American Management Association determined five types of buyers within nearly all markets when there are new product purchases involved. They include innovators, adopters, early majority, late majority, and excessive traditionalists.
I like to think of three types of buyers: those ready to buy, those needing some education, and tire-kickers. These types of buyers come from all different sorts of organizations where the company may be in growth mode, change mode, status quo, or the pleased and proud. The stage that the company is in also will help determine when the buyer will buy.
Those who are ready to buy are what we used to call in retail, "bluebirds" — in a retail environment, it is someone who walks in knowing what they generally want and money is in hand. It´s amazing how many people are in this position now, especially when they can do extensive research on the Internet. These who are ready to buy may also be sent to you through a referral source, so much of the trust building needed to happen in most sales cycles is done already. These buyers need a guide to help ensure they are getting the right goods or services to be of help to them and their business. This is the opportunity to serve the customer — verify what they want or need with your offer. Often people can have bad information, so if you know your services or products you can serve them initially through the right fit for their needs or wants.
There are a lot of people out there representing companies large and small who are working to educate themselves about what it is that they really want or need. Believe it or not, we buy what we buy to sastify basic needs — Abraham Maslow introduced the Hierarchy of Needs in 1954 and his research still holds true today– we have physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. Although people talk with us from a logical standpoint, we all buy emotionally — to fulfill one or more of the basic human needs. All you have to do is watch a few commercials on TV to see this play out. People who have questions need answers. As sellers, you can ask them some key questions to determine more about their planned purchase and see if they are more likely to purchase from you or not.
Tire-kickers is a retail term — when I sold PCs in a retail store we´d identify someone who had no interest in purchasing, but did have lots of questions. We´d refer them to the "magazine rack" — which back then, there were a number of magazines they could purchase to get their answers known (pre-Internet, believe it or not). I mention these folks because as a business owner or sales professional, you need to value your time — it is the one element that you can manage to make a huge difference in your life. If they are not a "more qualified" buyer than not — you can put them on your e-mail list, or mailing list, and contact them monthly or quarterly — but they are not ready to purchase, unless you can immediately solve their needs on the spot. This is a rarity. Send them on their way, with a smile on their face — they may refer someone ready to buy to you because of the way they were treated and served.
To be a successful professional seller, no matter who you talk with, you need to be qualifying them from your first conversation — through asking questions. There is no way to know if your product or services will serve them well unless you better understand their situation, their needs, and desires. Begin with key questions. Develop a list of questions that will assist them to uncover what it is that they really need — in fact many people don´t know what it is that they need. They may have a symptom of a bigger issue to fix, but only know that the symptom is the irritant. True professionalism comes from helping the buyer solve a problem, meet a need, or a want. Serve them well, and you´ll have more repeat and referral customers than you´ll know what to do with.