Understanding how to sell to the four types of customers will not only increase your sales, but also increase your chances of attracting the kinds of customers you want as clients. 

Some business owners may not be aware that their marketing message is getting the attention of customers that they don’t want to work with. So how can you change your message to attract and sell to your ideal customer type?

Let’s start with what services and products each type of customer is interested in, what it’s like to work with each type, and how you can offer the service that will bring you the type of customers you want.

Watch this video about the four types of customers.

1. Price-Based Customers

What is a price-based customer?

Of the four types of customers, price-based customers and clients are most motivated by how much something costs. They make decisions about whether to buy or not to buy based on cost. The quality of your services or your products won’t matter as much to them as how much money they can save. 

This type of customer will get on the phone with you and ask questions like, “How much do you charge? Is that the best price you can give me? Oh, that’s too expensive. What do I get if I pay half that amount?” They’re not as interested in what you do, what value you provide, or how much experience you have. They’re just shopping around.

They’re the type of customer who asks, “How much do you charge?” and when you say, “I charge a hundred,” they say, “Oh, I thought somebody told me you charge $40 or something.”

They try their best to convince you that you should charge less because some other customer of yours said you had a different price and they came to you because they expect to get the same deal because they’re a referral.

Price-based customers like to ask you, “What is your best price?” After you give them a number,  they’ll say, “I could get someone on Fiverr to do it for $5.” And then they wait for you to bring your price down because otherwise, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

What happens when you work with a price-based customer

These types of customers are more demanding about terms or quality of service. They don’t truly appreciate what you offer. They want to know what’s the lowest amount they can pay for what you do.

If you’re just starting a business and building a clientele, you might consider taking on a price-based customer. You’ll try to do a good job because you think you can win them over as clients by charging them less for the first time. Then when they see how good you are, you think  can charge your usual rate the next time. But with these clients, that’s not likely to happen.

That’s not going to happen because it’s in their nature to be focused on price. They are the type to watch shows about how fascinating it is to clip coupons and save every single dollar they can. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m not selling to them. 

I’m not selling to them because the next time they do business with you, you can try to charge your usual rate, but they will say you were okay with charging them less the first time. They will feel the rate hike is unjustified and they’ll find someone else who charges your lower rate.

It won’t matter how much attention you give them, or how much quality you put into your services or products. These types of customers appreciate you only for how little you can charge for what you do.

Price-based Customers 

  • They buy based on price
  • Want quality but don’t like to pay a high price for it
  • Words of advice: Don’t sell to them even though they make up the majority of the marketplace.

2. Difficult Customers

What is a difficult customer?

Difficult customers are challenging to deal with, and of the four types of customers, this group will have you working hard to please them but feeling unsatisfied. If you show you’re having a bad day, they’ll try to make your day worse. They’re just difficult to deal with. 

They’re not that pleasant. They don’t smile that much. They’ve got this negative energy about them. They say things like, “My life is horrible. The world is going downhill.” They’ll ask you a lot of illogical questions just to give you a hard time.

You’ll know that you have a difficult customer on your hands because they’ll be calling you late at night or on the weekends to talk about “something urgent” that’s bothering them about their contract, or they’ll constantly complain about minor details of your service or product.

When it comes to payment, they’ll pay late, forget to pay, or dispute every aspect of everything they were charged. Their constant complaining and arguing will drain your time and energy… and over time, impact your health.

What happens when you work with a difficult customer

Several things could go wrong when you deal with these types of customers, from situations that are irritating to situations that make you wish you’d never worked with this customer.

For example, they expect to be treated like your VIP client. They will expect things to be done immediately and to their impossible deadlines and expectations. They ignore the fact that you may have other clients and responsibilities and they constantly want to be put at the front of the line.

These types of customers think they can do your job better than you. They will find flaws in your work and advise you on how you could improve. When you present this client with the invoice, they will scrutinize every item to point out how they are being “overcharged”.

Difficult customers either criticize minor issues about your service or product, or they go to the other extreme and tell you the job will be a simple one… and then ask for a never ending list of “little” changes they would like you to do.

Often, these emergency calls, unsolicited advice and criticism, and constant need to have their needs and concerns addressed right away will start to chew away at your sanity. You’ll push down the urge to argue with them or hang up on them. No matter what you do, they will always find imperfections and they will always be unhappy with you.

Difficult Customers

  • Give you a hard time and drain your energy and resources
  • Words of advice: Don’t sell to them

In terms of the marketplace, the majority of the people are price-based customers. Most entrepreneurs subconsciously structure their marketing message in a way to attract price-based and difficult customers. They don’t even know it. 

When entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople tell these customers that they can offer a deal, or give them a better price (or two for the price of one), they are speaking the language of price-based customers. These customers want to save money. They want to pay you less. Difficult customers wanted to be treated as VIP and expect as low a price as possible.

These types of customers aren’t the type you want to be dealing with. Ideally, you want to work with sophisticated and affluent customers.

3. Sophisticated Customers

What is a sophisticated customer?

This type of customer has money and is educated. They know what they’re buying. Sophisticated customers know exactly what they want by the time they go to your business because they’ve done their research. 

They may have talked to a few people about what you do, such as your past or current clients, or trusted friends who have some knowledge about your industry. It could be that you’ve been the source of their education and research. They’ve visited your website, watched your videos, spoken to someone on your staff, or read testimonials and reviews.

Let’s say this customer is buying a car. Before their first visit to your dealership, they will have visited a few websites, starting with reading some third party consumer reviews, then visiting your website to read your product guides. 

When they arrive at your business, they say, “Okay, I know exactly the model I want. Here’s exactly all the features and the color that I want. Here’s the payment plan that you have on your website that would work for me.” Then they may ask to go for a test drive before finalizing the details of their purchase.

They’re very, very sophisticated. Now with these customers, sometimes you can educate them and they appreciate that. They like that because the additional information shows them you know what you’re talking about. They also appreciate it if you point out flaws in your product. 

Providing them with these details builds trust. 

What happens when you work with a sophisticated customer

Sometimes sophisticated customers need more time to make a decision. They like to be thorough with their research. They’ll ask a lot of intelligent questions about how much warranty they get, and more details about the features and benefits. Before speaking with you, they will have prepared their list of questions.

When they are ready to buy, they’ll get back to you before you get back to them. You don’t have to follow up. They’ll say, “Great information. I just need to do a little more research. I’ll call you back.” This is very different than customers that say, “Well, I’ll think about it” because they don’t want to hurt your feelings when you never hear from them again. 

Sophisticated customers actually do need some time to think it over and talk with some people, because usually when they make a decision, they stick with that decision. When they are ready to buy, they want to read over the terms and conditions thoroughly to understand them. If there is fine print on a contract, they will read those statements before they sign.

When selling to these customers, be prepared to provide them with detailed information about your product or service, and ensure that information about your business is searchable and available online.

Sophisticated Customers

  • Educated about your products and services before they speak to you
  • Mean it when they need time to think about it

Words of advice:

  • Win their respect and trust by educating them about your products and services
  • Be prepared to tell them about features, benefits, terms and conditions

4. Affluent Customers

What is an affluent customer?

Affluent customers buy based on feelings. They aren’t concerned about the cost or even about the details. They just want to feel good after they buy your product or service. 

An example of an affluent customer experience is when I went to the car dealership to buy the RX-8. I didn’t know all the features, the horsepower, or too many details. I just thought it was a cool car. That was my buying criteria for the car because I could afford it. Without doing much research about the vehicle beforehand, I decided one day to make my purchase. I was getting it and I didn’t care what it would cost.  

The mistake entrepreneurs make when they try to sell to affluent clients is they say to them, “I’m going to give you a deal.” These customers don’t want a deal. They’re thinking if you give them a deal, then the item is cheap or defective.

Similarly, when I went to buy my car, I wasn’t interested in getting a discounted price, or finding out how much money I could save if I got package A versus package B. I just wanted to be able to go to the dealership, get the best model of the car I wanted, and enjoy driving it around.

When you sell to affluent customers or clients, focus on how they will feel after buying your product. Don’t be afraid to name your price. Price is not an issue for them.

They’re more interested in convenience and personalized service than saving money. For example, if an affluent customer wants some new outfits for the summer, they would appreciate it if store staff picked out those outfits for them beforehand, based on their size and taste. Then the purchase would be sent to their home, saving them a trip to the store and time wasted picking through and trying on clothes.

What happens when you work with an affluent customer

This type of customer appreciates a personalized buying experience. They like special treatment (such as having their own “dedicated team”), getting a special number that VIP customers can call, or getting assistance with their purchase. For example, having someone to select and pick up a gift on their behalf, saving them a trip to the store.

What attracts affluent customers are a “once in a lifetime experience,” getting upgrades, receiving promotions that have a high value, buying premium products and services, and getting benefits that make their shopping experience easier. For example, upgrading their membership so they have fewer fees and procedures to deal with.

They don’t mind that the convenience and customized buying experience comes with an extra cost. What matters to them is having more time to spend on other activities and how they feel after purchasing a high-end vacation package, custom-made suit, or limited edition jewelry.

Affluent Customers

  • Buy based on emotions
  • Are not concerned about price
  • Don’t focus on features and benefits or other details. Focus on feelings.
  • Don’t be afraid to name your price. Never say you’ll give them a deal.

Summary 

How you sell to the four types of customers depends on the types of customers you want to attract to your business. The words you use can attract or repel your ideal client type.

Priced-based customers are motivated by discounts, deals, and how much money they can save. If you’re advertising 2 for 1 deals or 40% off sales, you’re speaking to price-based customers. If you’re hoping to get a new client by lowering your regular rates and doing a great job, you’re not likely to get repeat business when this type of client finds out you want to charge your usual rates the second time around. They’ll want another discount.

Difficult customers are just difficult to deal with. They’ll have an emergency that they’ll want you to take care of immediately, they’re fussy about details, and you may end up wondering if they want to run your business for you. You may feel burned out long before they are ever pleased with anything you do.

Sophisticated customers spend a lot of time researching your business and the product or service they want to buy from you long before they make a purchase. When they decide to buy, they will spend time asking questions about terms and conditions and they will read the fine print before signing. Win their trust by being transparent with details about product information and they will become good clients.

Affluent customers buy because of the feeling they experience from making the purchase. Convenience and saving their time is important to them. Price is of no importance, and they enjoy buying a product or service that is exclusive, personalized, once-in-a-lifetime, or luxurious. 

The type of customer you are selling to depends on your product or service and your price point. A person can be more than one type of customer, depending on what they are buying. If I’m just getting several rolls of toilet paper, then I might be a price-based customer. If I’m making an investment, I’m a sophisticated customer. And if I want to buy an expensive suit to make me feel good, I’m an affluent customer.