The Four Buying Archetypes: How To Sift Prospects

We’re now in the middle of the holiday shopping season, which, at least in the United States, can represent anywhere between 20 and 50 percent of annual sales, depending on the industry and the products offered.

If you’re a retail salesperson who works the floor, I want to show you the four buying archetypes, so you’ll have a sense of what you’ll be dealing with for the next two weeks and beyond.

Let me also say that the percentages I’m sharing with you will vary, depending on your industry and the quality of your marketing. So here we go …

Archetype I: Buyers in heat

On average, 20 percent of your prospects are looking to spend money right now. They’ve got an itch that needs to be scratched. There’s a want or need that must be filled. They’re probably stressed about the situation and feeling pain. They need relief. Before the end of the day they will buy, if no from you, then certainly from someone else.

Archetype II: Buyers in power

About 30 percent of prospects are motivated to buy, but walking out of your store with product in hand may not be first and foremost on their mind. The want and need is there, but they’re not feeling any pain. They know they’ll have to make a decision soon, but it doesn’t have to be today. In a nutshell, they control the timing of the purchase.

Archetype III: The tire kickers

Still another 30 percent are just curious. They have no buying agenda, no real buying need. They might buy if the stars are perfectly aligned, but generally speaking, they’re pretty apathetic about the idea.

Archetype IV: Dragged, kicking and screaming

Maybe 20 percent fall into this category. They have no interest, whatsoever, in buying. They might be in the company of one of the other three Archetypes, they may have walked through the door looking to entertain themselves or they may really want something you have, but they can’t afford it or would not qualify for financing.

It’s your move

You’re looking for the people who want your product, need your product and can afford your product—today! This is where your qualifying skills become one of your most valuable assets. When the sales floor is packed, you do not want to spend any time with people who are not predisposed to buying (buyers in heat) or can be moved toward a buying decision with relative ease (buyers in power).

A word of caution

Do not attempt to twist someone’s arm (the tire kickers) into buying just because you have them in front of you. Your job is not to turn non-buyers into buyers. Presenting to poor quality prospects will always result in a deal that goes nowhere. Don’t waste your time. Your job is to turn buyers into customers.

Ask lots of questions

How can you possibly know how best to help your prospects if you don’t properly qualify them? Now, I’ve urged everyone I’ve ever trained to use scripts for every part of the sales process. I even created a product called Script Builder to make it easy for you. Scripts keep you on track so you can keep your prospect on track.

If you’re not going to use a script, at least have your list of questions prepared. If you can’t memorize them all, write them down. If you think you’ll look stupid or unprofessional carrying your list of questions around, does your doctor look stupid or unprofessional with his clipboard and all the questions he asks you about your health? Or does he come across as an expert in his field?

Asking questions does more than just give you the intelligence you need to gather so you can best help your prospect. It shows your prospect you care. It shows you’re connected—that you get it—that the two of you are on the same page. Asking questions builds rapport. Understand?

One more thing: Ask … and then listen. Salespeople have a bad habit of not listening! Questions are important, but the answers are even more important. Don’t get so hung up on your list of questions that you forget to listen to the answers. That’s a great way to break rapport!

Always do the right thing

A sales professional will never cast aside a prospect that doesn’t qualify. The whole premise of the Straight Line Persuasion System is elegance in both delivery and performance. If you’ve got a time-waster, politely excuse yourself and move on. If you’ve got a prospect who can’t afford your product, then suggest a competitor who has a less expensive product. Believe me, if you do that, you’ll make two friends instantly—the prospect and the competitor. Plus, you leave the door open for that prospect to become a customer in the future.

-Jordan Belfort