The customers that drive you crazy & how to turn them

There are five customer types that cause serious inefficiencies for businesses. Here, marketing expert Fiona Adler defines each type and explains how you can manage them effectively, and even get a sale from them.

There are five customer types that cause serious inefficiencies for businesses. Here, marketing expert Fiona Adler defines each type and explains how you can manage them effectively, and even get a sale from them.

Customers who are most valuable to a business owner are loyal to a brand, willing to spend more than the minimum dollar value and eager to recommend you to others. They are also the audience that is easiest to sell to and business owners need to be doing more to attract them. In reality, however, seemingly friendly consumers who provide little value often blind business owners. A customer that is pleasant and has never caused any confrontation doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good for business. Sometimes the chattiest customers have little effect on growing your profit. Finding quality customers can be difficult, but here’s how business owners can manage the five types of consumers that drive them crazy. 

1. The Indecisive Customer: They show interest in your product or service, but are not always as motivated to buy as they seem. They might have some concerns that have yet to be addressed or find that there are too many choices and have no idea where to begin. For this customer, they’re more comfortable avoiding decisions and are more cautious and move slower than other customers. 
Your action: This customer needs to be led to a decision and handheld the whole way. You will have to be the leader in this relationship, but if you can earn their trust, they can be very valuable. Talk them through their decision-making process and find out if there were similar decisions they made in the past that either worked out well, or that they now regret. Be compassionate and remind them what the lack of making a decision can cost them. Demonstrate your trustworthiness with credentials, examples of past work, or customer reviews.

2. The Tyre Kicker: Not to be confused with the Indecisive Customer, the Tyre Kicker doesn’t say “yes”, or “no”, to your offer, but rather delays or drags on the sales process, wasting valuable time. They may come back multiple times without you making a sale.
Your action: Time spent with these individuals is like throwing money (and time) away. Be ready with solid probing questions, especially early in the process, to help you qualify if they will be an actual buyer. This will help weed out the time-waster before you spend hours on follow up and research.

3. The Distracted Customer: They know what they want but are too busy with other things going on to tell you what this is. With this customer, communication can be difficult. They have a wandering mind, roving eyes and their smartphone in hand waiting for the next Facebook or Twitter notification. You can tell they have a lot going on and would almost rather be somewhere else at that point in time.
Your action: It’s your job to get their attention and engage them – make this a priority. Speak to them about the various positive features of the products or services, so that they develop a sense of interest and urgency. Strike up a conversation with them, but make sure that you listen to what they actually want – and don’t waste their time. If you can quickly grasp their needs, queries, aspirations and any concerns about what you offer, you can successfully service them – despite having only part of their attention.

4. The Know-It-All: The Know-It-All has done research on you and your competitors, and spouts about all your strengths and weaknesses. This customer thinks they know what the problem is and what needs to be done to fix it. As a result, the first 10 minutes of the conversation is wasted time with the customer grilling you on specific points and asking you technical questions that might not even be relevant.
Your action: Be prepared. Rather than spending time answering questions, ask questions. The big problem with this customer is that they’re not very receptive to what you might have to say. In fact, often what they’re looking for is your respect – so give it to them. Compliment them on their knowledge and research. Tell them not many customers know as much as they do. And then use this rapport and ego-booster to introduce new ideas to them and convince them about your product or service.

5. The Grumpy Cat: This type of customer needs your help, but for whatever reason they’ve already decided that you probably can’t help them anyway. They’re pessimistic and impatient.
Your action: The first thing to remember is to stay calm and listen to their concerns. Ask questions so they know that you are listening and are genuinely focused on solving their problem. Make the decision process easy for them by highlighting the benefits of the product or service. At the same time, give them plenty of time and space to express themselves and don’t make them feel pressured into doing something – you’ll just upset them more!

Fiona Adler is a Co-Founder and CEO of Word Of Mouth Online.

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