"The Navigator" News Blog

Sell to the Buyer, not their type

You’ve probably seen the articles:  “Discover the four buyer types,” or “How to determine your buyer’s buying signals”.  Or if you just figure out which bucket your customer falls into, you have the road map to sell to them.  There’s only one problem.  The road map doesn’t have nearly enough exits on it.

You see, all of those methodologies about “buyer types,” or categorization techniques, are less about selling YOU and your product. They are more about selling the trainers who offer them.  That’s why I’ve never offered them, and I refuse to incorporate trainers who do offer them into my work.  I discovered a very handy technique for learning how many buyer types there are in the world:

You count up all the people and multiply by one.  That’s it. To be successful in selling, you have to treat your buyers as individuals and meet them where they are.  Sell to the buyer, not their type. Trying to “type” your buyers prevents that because you’re gearing your actions and reactions around discovering which quadrant they go into.  Instead, here’s the approach to use, based on meeting your buyer as an individual:

Tabula rasa or Blank Slate

Start out each meeting with a new buyer on a tabula rasa basis.  That’s a Latin phrase meaning “blank slate,” and it’s commonly used in organized debate and legal proceedings.  Essentially it means that nothing is assumed until it’s proven in court (or debate) with evidence.  In selling, it should mean that you enter a meeting with no preconceived notions about the buyer’s needs or the anticipated solutions – instead, you’ll gear your recommendations to how they answer questions and state their needs.  That leads us to the next step.

Comprehensive Questioning

To sell to the buyer, you discover their needs through good and comprehensive questioning.  Make sure you ask about their current situation and their desired situation. Probe the gaps between  the current and desired situations.  Gain understanding not only of the needs but the prioritization of the needs and the buyer’s own perspective on why those needs exist and why they are prioritized as such.  LISTEN to the answers.  Your buyer will give you the real road map to selling in this phase.  And you must remember that this road map only pertains to this buyer.

Present to Needs

Then, present specifically to those needs.And be honest – if your products and services can’t meet their needs at the current moment, tell them that.  If your presentations tie directly to what they have stated as their needs, you’ll be way ahead of salespeople who lead with their product.


Handle pricing in a straightforward manner – don’t be afraid to make a profitable deal, and don’t hide details.  The fewer “fine print” moments you have, the better off you’ll be.

Ask for the Sale

Ask for the sale in a direct manner. And remember to sell to the buyer. 

That’s it.  The more direct, straightforward, and individualized your selling process, the more effective you will be and the stronger relationships you’ll build.  And you won’t be preoccupied wondering if your buyer is a Driver, an Influencer, or whatever other “type” they’re trying to get you to use. You will sell to the buyer.