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7 types of customers all sales reps meet (and how to sell to them)

Types of Customer
1Browsers (or wandering customers)
2Impulse customers
3Need-based customers
4New customers
5Discount customers
6Loyal customers
7Unhappy customers
A word on avoiding tire kickers (and how to spot them)
Final thoughts

Adapting your sales approach to different types of customers helps you build stronger relationships, convert leads faster and increase customer loyalty.

In this article, we break down the customer types you’ll encounter most in sales and provide tips to help you nurture each effectively.

We cover all the tools you need to tailor your sales tactics and close any kind of deal.

1. Browsers (or wandering customers)

At the very top of the sales funnel, you’ll find browsers, also known as wandering customers.

Browsers are prospects with little intention of buying. They research various products and brands loosely to see if anything jumps out, sometimes out of boredom or indecisiveness.

As a result, they may pop into your store or visit your website a few times without a clear interest in specific products.

Wanderers might account for a lot of your site or store’s traffic but likely make up the smallest chunk of your sales revenue. Don’t spend too long trying to sell to them – working on qualified leads is more efficient.

There are still techniques you can use to pull browsers into your sales pipeline, however.

The best sales and marketing tactics for browsers

Browsers give small amounts of attention to lots of businesses and products.

Use sales and marketing tactics that grab attention quickly to differentiate your brand:

  • Brand storytelling. Compelling brand stories communicate company and product value, trigger emotions and inspire action. Stand out by capturing browsers’ imaginations and demonstrating your values.

  • Play the long game. Plant small seeds that allow for a future relationship to grow instead of trying to get a quick conversion. Be helpful even if it doesn’t contribute directly to a sale and leave communication open for when the browser is ready to get serious.

  • Significant discounts. Some browsers have impulsive tendencies. Appeal to them with one-off discounts that are too good to miss, then use conversions as opportunities to upsell, cross-sell or build longer relationships.

2. Impulse customers

Impulse buyers are like browsers but are more willing to spend money.

They’re quick to check something out when it catches their eye and often skip the fine print, preferring to let the hype and other social proof guide them.

Given their fast decision-making, impulse customers are ideal for upselling and cross-selling, especially if you can demonstrate a product’s value quickly using testimonials and relatable reviews.

Selling them products that solve pain points and help them reach their goals is vital. If an impulse customer goes by hype alone and doesn’t get the five-star experience they expect, they may leave negative reviews online or tell other people, which cancels out one sale’s financial benefits.

The best sales and marketing tactics for impulse customers

Simplicity and reassurance are key to capturing impulse buyers’ attention.

Try the following techniques to get extra sales from this audience:

  • Streamlined purchase processes. Impulse customers have shorter attention spans. Make checking out or signing the deal as simple as possible so they don’t get distracted by a competitor.

  • Clear product details. Your window for engaging an impulse customer is small. Use snappy copy, short demonstration videos and high-quality product imagery to explain key features quickly.

  • Social proof. Case studies, testimonials and reviews are efficient ways to gain trust from impulse customers. Talk up similar clients’ experiences in sales conversations to provide quick reassurance.

3. Need-based customers

Need-based customers are the opposite of impulse and wandering customers. They arrive keen to buy specific products or services quickly and expect minimal disruption.

These buyers do a lot of research before speaking to salespeople, so most will know your products well. Repeating basic information from your website could frustrate them and cost you sales.

Instead, many need-based customers are already thinking about what will happen after their purchase. Reassure them by explaining how you and your company will ensure they get value from their investment.

While these well-researched customers are often easier to convert, most won’t spend more than planned. Soften your upselling efforts to avoid damaging your relationship.

The best sales and marketing tactics for need-based customers

Need-based customers are usually further along in their customer journeys than the other types on this list, having already decided that your product is a good fit.

Get them over the line with this advice:

  • Product comparisons. Specification sheets and product comparisons help need-based customers make buying decisions in their own time. Detailed reports and white papers also support the research process.

  • Streamlined transactions. Minimize disruption for website visitors with simple purchase processes, like checking out as a guest, and skip the upselling unless you’re sure there’s an appetite for more.

  • Knowledgeable sales reps. These customers will know your products well but may ask more advanced or niche questions before committing. Ensure you have the talent to give them the answers they need.

4. New customers

There are two types of new customers: the buyer about to make their first purchase and the first-time purchaser who’s converted recently. Both are valuable to your company since they each have the potential to become loyal customers or brand advocates.

New customers generally want reassurance that they’ve made or are about to make a great buying decision. After all, choosing your company and its product for the first time is a financial risk, whether it’s personal or company money at stake.

Onboarding is a crucial part of the customer experience (CX) for first-time buyers. It’s your chance to give a great first impression and generate excitement around using your product or service.

Smooth, thoughtful onboarding ensures a customer can use your product effectively right away, increasing their satisfaction. Get it right and you could inspire repeat purchases and positive reviews.

The best sales and marketing tactics for new customers

New customers hold immense potential for your business, so you need the right game plan to reel them in.

The following tactics will help you hone your strategy for this audience:

  • Social proof. A relatable story from another user can give a new customer extra confidence in their purchase decision. Collect use cases from a range of industries and buyer types to publish on your website and bring up in sales conversations.

  • Thoughtful after-sales interactions. Show new customers they’ve chosen well by meeting their needs post-conversion. Demonstrate a product’s full value with tips, guides and demonstrations. Be available to offer detailed customer support.

  • Personal acknowledgment. A simple, personally delivered “thank you for choosing us” message can make a new customer feel valued and lay the foundation for a longer, more profitable relationship.

5. Discount customers

Discount customers are careful, price-driven buyers who are constantly looking for a better deal than the standard advertised price. Most buyers like saving money, but these bargain hunters nearly always put price first.

They’re analytical and spend plenty of time weighing features and researching costs but will buy on impulse if a deal’s too good to miss.

The best sales and marketing tactics for discount customers

If you sell to consumers directly, discount customers likely make up a big section of your audience.

The following sales and marketing strategies will help you win them over and build profitable relationships:

  • Value selling. A solid value proposition helps hesitant customers look beyond a product’s immediate price to see the long-term benefits. Tailor sales conversations and marketing content by industry or business size to emphasize benefits that are likely to resonate with your target audience. For example, tools like Pipedrive can help financial advisors overcome classic industry challenges.

  • Personalized promotions. Exclusive discounts help customers feel special, as though they earned a reduced price and are getting a better deal than their peers. Use email marketing software to segment customers for more targeted incentives.

  • Time-limited offers. Use urgency to tap into discount customers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). Email timers (also called email countdown timers) are a great way to communicate time-sensitive deals and distribute coupons to select audiences.

6. Loyal customers

There are two types of loyal customers: people searching for companies whose values they share and those who’ve already bought into your brand.

Trust always comes first for this section of your customer base. They must be confident in the products they buy and the brands they support. Otherwise, they won’t feel motivated to advocate for your business.

Loyal customers are motivated to spend more on products that match their values and beliefs. A Google study found that 82% of shoppers prefer companies’ values to align with their own and three-quarters have reported switching brands due to a conflict in values.

All this means that selling to loyal customers is a great way to boost your team’s revenue generation and customer lifetime value (CLV) metrics, along with customer retention rates.

Loyal customers also want complete honesty and transparency from brands and their salespeople. In a TrustPilot survey of consumers, 68.5% said honesty was “very” or “extremely” important, compared with 2.5% who said it was unimportant.

Be ready to sell your company’s story along with its products so people can understand and align with your cause. Use marketing content and sales conversations to explain why your brand exists, what it stands for and its mission.

The best sales and marketing tactics for loyal customers

Loyal customers are the goal for businesses in all industries since repeat business is typically more profitable than acquiring new customers. Fresh Relevance reports that 42% of consumers prefer shopping with brands they have previously bought from, making them easier to sell to.

Use the following tactics to build lasting relationships and increase revenue:

  • Consultative selling. Gain repeat customers’ long-term trust by being as helpful as possible. Offer solutions rather than products and be honest when part of your offering isn’t a good fit. These buyers will appreciate the candor more than discount and need-based customers.

  • Loyalty programs. Reward customers for sticking with you. Their repeat business will make up for any discounts or freebies you offer. Publicize loyalty schemes in your marketing content to increase conversions.

  • Emotive brand storytelling. Talk about your company’s values, origins and mission openly. If they align, you’ll likely have a long-term relationship on your hands.

7. Unhappy customers

Unhappy customers are dissatisfied or frustrated with a product, service or overall experience from your company.

They express their feelings through complaints, negative feedback online (e.g., via social media, forums and reviews) and sometimes even confrontations with salespeople or support teams. That stops them from becoming loyal and may impact other potential customers’ perceptions of your brand.

These customers often feel let down, ignored or misunderstood. Addressing their concerns is key to rebuilding trust and avoiding further negative press.

Going out of your way to fix customers’ problems can restore trust and prevent churn. When you do that publicly, like replying to an online review with an offer to help, you can improve your brand image by showing other potential buyers that you take customer satisfaction seriously.

The best sales and marketing tactics for unhappy or angry customers

Getting unhappy customers back on side can lead to repeat business and prevent reputational damage.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Personalized after-sales interactions. Make unhappy customers feel special by paying extra attention to their post-conversion needs. Remove them from automated email lists and offer personal support instead, at least until their sentiment turns.

  • Omnichannel support. Unhappy customers are more likely to make their dissatisfaction public if they can’t express it to you directly. Offer a range of communication channels to ensure buyers with issues come to you before posting online. Email, instant messaging, phone and chatbots are all great starting points.

  • Acknowledging mistakes. Reasonable customers accept that brands make mistakes. Many will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you acknowledge, apologize for and rectify your error.

A word on avoiding tire kickers (and how to spot them)

Your instinct might tell you to engage every lead who enters your pipeline, but giving time to tire kickers is the easiest way to bring your win rate down.

In short, tire kickers are leads who will never buy your product. They might enjoy checking out your offering and some would even love to buy. However, they can’t or won’t reach a buying decision, so any time you spend with them is wasted.

These people are especially bad for business because they:

  • Take advantage of your professional knowledge

  • Distract you from more profitable activities and prospects

  • Distort your sales metrics

Often, the biggest challenge with tire kickers is identifying them. Here are six telltale signs to look for:

  1. They spend their time asking questions, raising objections and haggling over price

  2. They frequently go off-topic during discussions, whether to discuss your personal life or their irrelevant opinions

  3. They are reluctant to let a deal move forward

  4. They ask endless questions about multiple unrelated products

  5. They’ve done little or no research into the solution they need (and may not even understand the problem they have)

  6. They can’t afford what you’re selling

You’re much better off spending time on qualified leads. These are interested buyers with the authority, need, urgency and money to make a purchase. Not only are they more likely to convert, they’re also more likely to enjoy your product and advocate for your business.

Final thoughts

While many customer types share some characteristics, each has its own priorities. Tailoring your sales tactics to those priorities can lead to stronger relationships, increased customer loyalty and ultimately more sales.

Take the time to listen, understand and adapt your approach to customers’ needs and preferences. The rewards of shorter sales cycles, increased customer lifetime value and higher revenue will be well worth the effort.

Driving business growth