The 4 Types of Buyers and How to Sell Them

One of the most important parts of selling your prospect is knowing who that person is and what drives him or her. Many studies have been done attempting to define the types of buyers in the world. From the Myers & Briggs Type Indicator to Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese?, there are many systems for identifying prospects and meeting their internal decision-making needs.

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Many of these popular styles of personality testing are based on research done by David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1980s. Their paper, Personal Styles and Effective Performance, highlighted research that showed there were four main types of decision-makers: Analyticals, Amiables, Drivers, and Expressives. That research has been corroborated many times over, most recently in a report by McKinsey Quarterly.

By identifying what motivates your prospect to buy, you can tailor your sales presentation in such a way that you meet his or her internal and external needs. With just a little bit of research, observation, and communication, you can use your knowledge of these decision-making styles to build better long-term customer relationship management skills and increase your close rate.

 

The Analytical Buyer

Jennifer’s desk is immaculate. On her wall hang the most recent sales statistics, flow charts for each part of her organization, and several degrees that she’s earned. She wears glasses, her eyes used to reading and rereading every proposal, idea, and report that has come across her desk. There are few plants or family pictures – a little too personal for a professional desk area – and her office exemplifies a “no-frills” perspective. She greets you professionally, but with little warmth. She is here for business and wants to get down to the facts.

Motivation: Logic and Information

Analytical buyers are best identified by their attention to detail and tendencies towards perfectionism. They can seem withdrawn, introspective, or even indecisive. Don’t let this fool you. Analytical buyers are only indecisive when they still don’t have all the information they want in order to make an informed decision.

Since criticism is the bane of the Analytical existence, they often won’t discuss an idea unless they are 100% sure it is the right thing to do. Accuracy is the most important goal, and risks are avoided altogether.

How to Sell an Analytical Buyer

Since logic and accuracy are the key motivations for this type of buyer, more information equals more sales. In addition, this type of decision-maker is slow to change. Make sure they have enough time to really consider all the facts of your proposal without feeling pressured to rush into a decision.

In your presentation, you should:

  • Highlight the accuracy of your service or product
  • Provide case studies, testimonials, and statistics proving the validity of your claims
  • Repeat yourself several times for clarification
  • Discuss the processes behind your product or service
  • Remain professional and don’t get too personal

 

The Amiable Buyer

George greets you with a warm handshake and questions about your day. Coworkers pass by his office, each giving him a kind greeting. On his desk are small mementos – given to him from other coworkers and family members over the 10 years he has worked there. His office has a few tastefully chosen paintings that match the carpet and furniture. He is staying late, working on a project long after others have gone home. When asked why, he says, “Everybody has a job to do. I want to make sure I do my best to keep the ship running smoothly.”

 

Motivation: Stability and Cooperation

An amiable buyer just wants to make everyone else happy. Because of this, it is often difficult for them to make big decisions. They are constantly worried about how their choice will affect the people around them. This can make their decision-making process very slow if you are not instantly keyed into the social aspects that will make them feel most comfortable.

Amiable buyers hate chaos and change. When you are communicating with an amiable, it is important to highlight the ease of transition your product and service will provide. In addition, it is vital to allow the amiables to make decisions on their own timeline. They know what’s best for their team and will ensure that each element comes together effectively.

When presenting to an amiable, you should:

  • Establish rapport and be friendly
  • Present in a systematic style – don’t throw in new information at the last minute
  • Highlight your product’s benefits for the team
  • Explain why your service will maintain the status quo
  • Listen carefully and agree often

The Driver Buyer

Karen’s desk is situated in front of a large pane of glass overlooking the river. What you notice, however, is that she never looks out of it. Instead, she is simultaneously inviting you into the office, talking to a business partner on the phone, and looking through a stack of invoices. She moves quickly across the room, which is filled with modern chairs, oak end tables, and leather books. There is an exotic orchid in the room, which is tended by an assistant. She has a professionally photographed family portrait on her wall – no candid shots for her. She waits for you to start, her eyes flicking to the clock and back again.

Motivation: Power and Respect

A driver is most concerned with how others view and follow their directions. That means you need to recognize a driver right away so that you can make him or her feel empowered in all your interactions. Relationships are not a key factor in this kind of decision-making. What is important are results that make the Driver look good.

The greatest fear of the driver is to be disrespected or taken advantage of. Because of this, they may be aggressive and controlling in their attempt to get the results they want. You need to show them proof of your product and respect for their position without allowing yourself to be bowled over. A driver has no respect for spineless lackeys. On the other hand, if he or she trusts you, they will make an instant decision.

When you do a sales presentation with a Driver, make sure you:

  • Make statements active, brief, and concise
  • Share facts that have culminated in tangible results
  • Prepare a list of options he or she can control
  • Avoid emotional arguments
  • Focus on big-picture benefits, not details

The Expressive Buyer

Jerry’s desk is a mess. His office is full of pictures, quotes, and files stacked up around the room. He has one small plant that looks like it hasn’t been watered for weeks. Even though he say’s he’s busy, he spends 15 minutes talking to you about your dog. In response to your comments, he turns and immediately finds a picture of his Dachshund in a seemingly random stack of papers. His office is filled with many half-completed projects, and he’s quick to agree to something fresh and new.

Motivation: Recognition and Approval

The Expressive is incredible at customer relationship management, which means that you need to be as well. People are the most important commodity to this type of buyer, which shows in their lack of attention to more tangible goals like sales numbers. They want to be needed, so your pitch needs to highlight their personal value to you and the value of your product to others.

An Expressive buyer can’t stand being isolated or not getting the most attention. They want to know that they are your most important client. If they don’t feel that they are getting enough attention, they may become manipulative or reactive.

When dealing with an Expressive buyer, you need to:

  • Spend time developing a personal relationship with them
  • Show how your product will improve his or her image and relationships
  • Use anecdotes, testimonials, and personal information to explain your product
  • Be funny, engaging, and personal at all times – don’t focus on statistics alone
  • Avoid entangling him or her in details that might lead to interpersonal conflict

What kind of buyer are you?

Are these buyer insights useful? Have you identified other profiles that we might have missed? Let us know in the comments!

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