Typecasting Customers


July 1998

Managine:Your Market

Typecasting Customers

Recognize who they are and what they need, then sell accordingly

You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can categorize customers within a few minutes of conversation, says Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts LLC, a Seattle, WA, company that provides education and training for jewelers.

Teach your sales associates to take a few minutes – before they start to sell – to chat with a customer to find out where he or she fits among the following three basic categories.

Comparison Shoppers
You know the type: they come into the store with business cards from 10 other stores with diamond grades scrawled across the back. They're tirelessly searching for the greatest value, and they think they know exactly what they want.

Strategy: "Get him to realize there's something he doesn't know without making him aware you're doing it," says Peterson. Tell the customer how refreshing it is to deal with somebody who's done his homework. Instead of letting him concentrate on the grade specifications, ask what message he's trying to convey with his purchase. Most importantly, don't be condescending: this customer wants to believe he has the upper hand.

Romanticist With a Purpose
It's anniversary time, or birthday, or Christmas – and this customer hasn't done his shopping. Most of the time this customer will simply say "I'm looking for something nice for a special occasion." He's usually not price driven and is truly interested in the salesperson's suggestions.

Strategy: Here's an opportunity to show some of your best products and discuss beauty and quality before price. "Price shouldn't come up before the customer brings it up," says Peterson. In these cases, ask a lot of questions to discover the customer's true needs, and talk up the product to build expectations and create a sense of value when price is finally mentioned.

Lookers Who Need To Be Led
How many times a day do you hear "I'm just looking" from people wandering into your store? "Nobody's just looking; they just haven't made a conscious decision to buy and they don't know what they want," says Peterson.

Strategy: When they here those three words, most salespeople either back away and let the customer look around or lead the customer to something that's an "easy sale," says Peterson. The challenge is to approach lookers without scaring them away or making them feel like you're hovering. Engage them in conversation or show them your most spectacular piece of jewelry to get the ball rolling, she says. In the meantime, never let a person who is waiting for a watch battery replacement or a small repair stand idly at the back of the store; use the opportunity to show new arrivals.

– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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