How to Sell to 4 Different Types of Buyers

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Someone recently asked me the most effective way to close a sale.  They were looking for a one-size-fits-all answer.  The problem is that customers are individuals.  Prospects are increasingly sophisticated in their purchasing decisions, and each has their own complex set of motivators.  Each prospect has multiple bids and resources at their fingertips, and is motivated by different factors than another prospect considering the same purchase.  Part of effective preparation for your meeting is researching the decision makers and what motivates each of them.  To make your meeting easier, here are 4 types of buyers and how to sell to each of them:

The Penny Counter

Penny Counters are analytical and love spreadsheets.  They are rational decision makers and over analyze everything.  Their attention to detail can drive you nuts.  A Penny Counter is not particularly warm or friendly, and can come off as stuffy and critical.  Their lack of emotion and poker-face can make people nervous, and their mind is always working.  You may peg them as indecisive, but they really just want all of the facts before making a commitment.  Their motivation is logic, facts, and safety.  They are cautious by nature, and believe that past successes indicate future triumphs.  A Penny Counter will weigh all of the facts and get back to you with their decision, following an in-depth analysis.

How to Sell to the Penny Counter

Highlight the accuracy of your service or product and present evidence to support your claims.  Go into your meeting armed with referrals, testimonials, statistics, and case studies.  Do not become frustrated with the barrage of questions; a Penny Counter stops asking questions when they are no longer interested, so keep them rolling!  Bring a team member along who can discuss process in great detail.  Penny Counters take time building relationships and trust, but once you win them over, they will be your biggest advocate and provide you with a detailed testimonial!  Earn their trust, and Penny Counters will be your most loyal advocates.

The Guardian

The Guardian is one of my favorite purchasers.  They are concerned about how this decision will impact everyone else.  Their mission is to preserve balance and protect everyone else’s well-being.  A Guardian values careful planning, and generally approaches change slowly and cautiously.  Chaos and change make them uneasy, as does a bumpy transition.  A Guardian is protective, diplomatic, and deliberate.

How to Sell to a Guardian

Facilitate a collaborative discussion and listen to everything they have to say.  Focus on the social aspect of this decision and how it will benefit the team.  Bring a team member from your service department, since Guardians want reassurance that you will take care of their employees.  Bring testimonials from other customers that highlight how easy you are to work with.  Bring survey results from your customers to prove that you take care of your clients, and do your best to arrange a referral from someone they know before your meeting.

The Commander

A Commander is motivated by power, and their number one concern is how others perceive them.  They are not warm and friendly, but generally show a high level of professionalism.  They are decisive, direct, and solve problems assertively.  Above all, they want to win and display their power, which can cause them to come across as pushy and overbearing.  Everything must happen their way and on their timeline.

How to Sell to the Commander

Let the commander feel they are in control of the meeting.  Emphasize tangible results that will make the commander look good to others.  Be concise, show respect for their opinion, and do not let them walk all over you.  Give them choices to help them feel in control.  Stay at a high level and do not linger too much on details.  Avoid emotional arguments, but lay out logical steps with the end goal always being to make the commander look good to others and make them feel in control.  To win with this buyer, you must be decisive, firm, and demonstrate how you will help them succeed.

The Visionary

Ah, the Visionary buyer.  Visionaries are few and far between, but truly a treat to meet.  They are generally on the disorganized side and do not pay attention to details.  Visionaries care about people above all else, and want to be needed.  Ideas are exciting to them, and their energy is contagious!  Visionaries thrive on meaningful relationships and community.  Visionaries exercise intuitive decision making, meaning that they feel it in their gut.  A Visionary loves to explore new territory and push the limits because they  want to be cutting-edge trailblazers.

How to Sell to a Visionary

The most effective way to sell to a Visionary is to build a relationship with them.  Highlight their personal value to you and the value your product or service will bring to them.  Show them how you can enhance their relationships or their goals.  Testimonials are a powerful tool for a visionary, but a personal referral means much more.  Use personal experiences to explain your offering, and brainstorm openly with a Visionary.  Allow them to push boundaries within reason, and openly discuss new ideas with them.  When they throw out an idea that your team can accommodate, show them how you can work to make their idea into a reality.  Make sure they understand that you will handle the details.  Treat this buyer like they are your most important client, and you will have an amazing partner who wants you to succeed.


The key to closing is finding out what motivates your prospect so you can determine how to sell to them.  You can learn this ahead of time with proper preparation, or you can go with your instinct as you ask pointed questions to get them talking during your meeting.  Either way, learn to recognize the different types of buyers and understand how to adjust your strategy.

Your strategy will also depend on the type of decision your buyer is making.  If the purchaser thinks they are making a strategic purchase, use the tactics listed above.  If what you offer is not strategic, the tactics listed above will not work.  Click here to read about strategic vs. non-strategic purchases, or subscribe to receive content like this in your inbox!

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2 Responses to How to Sell to 4 Different Types of Buyers

  1. Great blog, Jessica! I’m going to have to share this with my team. Keep it up.

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