There are many client personality types. You might argue that there are as many personalities as there are people and, it’s true, we are all unique – but client personality does tend to fall into a few general categories.
If you’re a designer, a web-designer or a marketer of any kind, you’ll find yourself dealing with a lot of clients who have risen to the top of their respective businesses. They may have built their business from the ground up, or they may be a manager within a business; either way, they have authority and they will have the best interests of their company at heart.
They won’t all respond to the same pitching process in the same way, so you need to adjust your approach based on the type of personality you’re dealing with.
Here’s a rundown of a few of the most common personality types and a few pointers on the best way to deal with them in an effective and mutually-beneficial way.
Client Personality Type #1: The Visionary
Visionary clients tend to be bubbling with enthusiasm; they have lots of ideas and a clear vision about where they want their business to be in the future. They may talk often about “the big picture”. Because they focus on the long view, they may not be concerned with the granular details.
They appreciate audacious and innovative solutions to problems. This, then, may be the client to show that cutting-edge user interface to, or to introduce to that new social media platform. A Visionary client has no fear of being the first business to try something, if they can see it helping them towards their ultimate goal.
If you can demonstrate that you understand their goal and share their values, that will create a bond between you both that could lead to a lot of fruitful business because a Visionary client will want you to share in their success.
Selling to The Visionary:
The sales process might take a while, because a Visionary client could need to spend time getting to know you and trust you. It’s time well spent, of course, because once they do trust you, you could become their preferred supplier.
Client Personality Type #2: The Forensic Scientist
Forensic Scientist client types will have a forensic eye for detail. They will care about the facts and the figures. They won’t be interested in the hyperbole or the marketing spiel; they will ask you pointed questions about effectiveness and return-on-investment, click-through rates and cost per click. Basically, they will be prepared, they will know what they’re talking about and they will expect you to, as well.
Unlike The Visionary, they probably won’t be interested in the latest on trend ideas, they are more likely to respond to an idea with a proven track record and evidence of success.
The Forensic Scientist won’t make a rushed decision, they will look at the evidence and at the alternatives and weigh them up in relation to their business’ aims and objectives.
Selling to The Forensic Scientist:
Back-up every idea you present with evidence of effectiveness and don’t over-promise. The more information you can supply, the more reassured a Forensic Scientist client will become.
They probably won’t become your friend but, if you can be a professional and provide them with the evidence they need, they could well become a loyal client.
Client Personality Type #3: The Alpha
Alpha clients always have to be top dog. They are assertive and competitive. Such clients value success, so they will want to see results.
The Alpha client won’t be dazzled by extravagant claims, but they will be impressed by honesty. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, tell them you’ll find out and get back to them – then do so. This will reassure the Alpha client that they are in control and that you will deliver on your promises.
Selling to The Alpha:
Be prepared to make your point quickly and emphasise the benefits of your proposal to their business. Offering them a range of customisable options might be a good strategy because they are then making the key creative decisions. It is important that they feel that they are in charge.
Client Personality Type #4: The Big Spender
The Big Spender has deep pockets. One of the major motivators for The Big Spender is to have something that is bigger and more extravagant than their competitor’s business – be that premises, a website or a marketing campaign.
That said, The Big Spender is no fool, they still want a great return for their investment. They may be spending more with you, but they will make you work harder for the money, so you will need to keep an eye on the hours and resources you spend on their project, or the big money they’re spending with you might end up costing you.
Selling to The Big Spender:
The Big Spender may be offended by discounts. That said, they won’t employ you or your team because you are ‘reassuringly expensive’, they want quality. Therefore, they will need you to explain why you are making certain choices and justify why that represents better quality than other options.
Client Personality Type #5: The Haggler
Hagglers want the best price. Then the better-than-best price. Where The Big Spender wants to know that they are spending more than their competition, The Haggler’s badge of achievement is knowing that they’ve spent less. But, importantly, they don’t want to receive less. They want the same level of service or quality but they want it more keenly priced.
When you’re starting out, it can be tempting to take a job from a client like this, knowing that you won’t make any money from it, just for the experience of working on a live project or for the kudos of having that client in your portfolio. There is certainly a case for that but, once you’re established, you really have to consider whether a job is worth taking if the client simply won’t spend.
Selling to The Haggler:
Always stress value for money over the actual price. Offer evidence that the cheapest short-term investment might not be cheaper in the long run.
But, if The Haggler is determined to ring a discount out of you, you should price your work in such a way that you have some negotiation room. However, be decisive about the price you can’t afford to go below.