Customer Types – Learn to Deal With Them All

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Terry Greenhut

Customers come in a wide variety of types. If you can recognize the type you are dealing with early in the sale you will have a much easier time in choosing the course of action that will make that type of customer buy from you. So here are many of the different types and the best ways to handle them.

The Yes Man: He seems to go along with everything you say. He nods his head a lot and agrees with every benefit offered. He makes you think he’s easy to close, but be careful. When you try to close he may just hit you with one very strong price objection.

Handle: “Mr. Customer, you seem to be in agreement with everything to this point. What is it about the price that’s making you hesitate?”

The Know It All: He’d like to make you believe he knows more about your business than you do. Let him strut his stuff. Compliment him on what he thinks he knows.

Handle: “Then, as you know….” He’s so busy being full of himself that he will go along with almost anything because he won’t admit he doesn’t know.

The High Roller: He wants to impress you with his accomplishments in life, his job, his house, his jewelry, etc. He’s easy to spot. He begins most sentences with “I”.

Handle: Play up to him. Agree with him. Ask him how he became so successful at whatever he does. If you can show him how great he will look to others by making this buying decision, you’re in.

The Quiet One: The Thinker: Is usually very hard to read. Doesn’t talk much. Mulls over everything you say. Doesn’t give up information easily. Doesn’t talk about himself. Needs facts on which to base a decision.

Handle: Ask lots of questions. You have to get him to talk so he can eventually tell you what it will take to close the sale.

The Fraidy Cat: He isn’t only in fear of his automobile’s problem. He’s afraid of you and most other people as well. He looks around the room a lot. He fidgets. He looks like he’s trying to hide in an open space.

Handle: As big and as ugly as you might be, you need to get smaller and quieter. Take a non-threatening posture. Don’t stand taller than the customer. Eye to eye or below is better. Speak softly. Tell stories of successful outcomes with other customers. Paint a picture of yourself as a big helpful Teddy Bear.

The I Don’t Care Customer: He acts like it just doesn’t matter whether the car gets fixed or not. He wants to hear the proposition but acts totally non-committal. You’d think he has six more cars at home to choose from so it doesn’t matter whether or not this one gets fixed.

Handle: Give him a reason to make a decision now. It could be the threat of losing his place in line to get the car fixed or some kind of a bonus for making the decision now.

The Aggressor: He wants to tell you how to fix his car and how much to charge. He does it because it’s worked for him in the past so now he does it to everyone. He uses intimidation to get what he wants.

Handle: Stand firm. Don’t be sarcastic or confrontational. Make your presentation and stick to your price. He’s not used to anyone challenging him. He’ll likely fall apart like a cheap suit.

The I Don’t Buy Anything On The Spot Customer: He tells you up front that he isn’t going to buy anything today. He will have to think it over. He’s really in fear of being pushed into a buying position and is trying to hide it.

Handle: Go along with it. Tell him that’s exactly what you want him to do. Then, after your presentation, ask him what it is he wants to think over. Discuss that issue to his satisfaction and again ask for the order.

The Curious Customer: He has a million questions, most of which having nothing to do with the buying decision. He is an analytical. He could be an engineer or an accountant, a detail person.

Handle: Let him ask. You only need to answer some of the questions. He doesn’t even realize how many he’s asked. Be patient but at some point cut it off and ask for the order.

The Good Natured Customer: Description – Polite, courteous, friendly. Understands your presentation and may have a few questions. Wants his car fixed and will pay a fair price once it is justified. If it goes well he will recommend you to his closest friends.

Handle: Be pleasant and accommodating. Answer objections directly and honestly. He may close himself but don’t depend on it.

The Skeptic: He doesn’t believe anything; not that he needs the repair, not that he needs all the parts you want to put in, and not that the price you are quoting is legitimate. He may not even believe that you know how to diagnose or repair his car.

Handle: Prove everything. Take him on the road test. Let him watch the diagnostic checks. Show the prices on the computer. Show diplomas from technical schools and courses along with certifications and testimonials from satisfied customers.

The Elderly Customer: Older people have time on their hands. They want to talk and they want someone to trust. They like to be recognized and respected. They have a great fear of losing their money to a scam artist.

Handle: Be respectful. Have patience. Be low key. Listen to their stories. Reassure them. Make it easy for them to buy.

The Young Single Man or Woman: They want to be treated as adults. Show them respect and try to accommodate them. They can be flighty. Some will constantly be looking for the better deal. They are still young enough to be impressionable.

Handle: Determine that they are the decision maker. Take on the role of friendly advisor. Don’t act like a parent telling them what to do. Make them feel they are making their own decision.

The Foreigner: People who have grown up in “Marketplace Countries” can be a challenge both due to language barriers and because they were raised to believe that the first price they are quoted is never the real price. They require special handling.

Handle: Be patient. Make sure they understand what they are buying. Use an interpreter if necessary. Have a fallback position. A second price just a little lower than the first.

The Complainer: He comes in telling you how everyone else has done him wrong. Nobody can fix his car right and everyone is ripping him off.

Handle: Tell him that you don’t want to be the next one he tells this story about, so it would be best if he leaves. At that point he will probably beg you to work on the car because nobody else will. It’s your decision whether this is someone you want to take on.

From The Poor Side Of Town: He may not be well dressed or drive the nicest car, but he may have a strong desire to have the car fixed and a means of securing the money. He wants respect just for being a customer. He may need help raising the funds.

Handle: Treat him like he has money. Make him feel he is in a safe place to do business. If the car is old and not worth much, require a deposit. Odds are he will come up with cash money.

The Mechanic: He identifies himself by saying, “I’d do it myself but I don’t have… (could be the time or the facility) He will never admit it’s because he doesn’t know how. He will always think your price is too high.

Handle: Treat him like any other customer. Ask for the order. No matter how much he fights price keep talking quality. That he can understand. Don’t back down from the price.

About the Author: Terry Greenhut is a highly sought after Automotive Aftermarket Sales Trainer and Key Note Speaker. He has authored numerous Automotive Aftermarket Sales Training Articles in many of the major automotive trade journals over the years. His best selling Automotive Aftermarket Sales Training Course is recognized as the industry standard. You can learn more about Terry by visiting his website at