Buying Styles

Like most everything else in life, an individual’s buying style is deter- mined largely by his or her personality style. Different personality styles are motivated to buy for different reasons. They expect different things from salespeople. Consequently, when deciding how to make your sales pitch, you should consider the preferences of the buyer.


  • Don’t like their time wasted
  • Don’t like surprises or games
  • Need a reason for buying
  • Are motivated by duty and guilt
  • Like responsible, trustworthy people
  • Want to know the pros and cons
  • Focus on the bottom line
  • Expect well-planned presentations


  • Have an open-door policy
  • Are reluctant to turn someone down
  • Talk about relationships and people
  • Prefer cozy, warm communication
  • Don’t like to be pressured
  • Make decisions with their hearts
  • Easily detect insincerity
  • Enjoy personalized attention


  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Meet to learn and gain wisdom
  • Can’t be rushed into a decision
  • Look for loopholes and flaws
  • Appear cool, aloof, and skeptical
  • Want data, facts, and figures
  • Want to see the “big picture”
  • Dislike redundancy and small talk


  • Are willing to take risks
  • Want a clear, brief overview
  • Need to see the immediate benefits
  • Like to be on the edge of their seats
  • Make decisions on an impulse
  • Like new, different, and bold things
  • Like to haggle and negotiate
  • Like to be the center of attention

If you don’t know someone’s personality style, make sure your sales pitch includes something for every color. Phrase it in such a way as to touch the heart of every Blue, inspire confidence in the Golds, challenge the Greens, and excite the Oranges. Watch to see which approach draws the greatest response, then shift the balance of your presentation to reflect that color.

Blue Buyers

Blues are inclusionary people who, as expected, have a broad open- door policy. Whether at home or at work, if you have something to say, count on Blues to let you inside and take the time to listen to your pitch. They’ll even appear to be good-natured, even if they’d rather have their eyes poked out with a rusty spike than continue listening to you.

Don’t confuse this openness with naiveté. Most Blues readily recognize when they’re being hustled by a slick snake-like solicitor. But, if they perceive you to be agreeable, honest, and sincere, you’re one step closer to winning over a new customer, for Blues are reluctant to turn a pleasant straight-shooter away. It’s not the pitch that makes the difference, but the personal warmth and authenticity of the hawker.

Presuming you’ve passed the initial good-character litmus test, now’s the time to get familiar with your customer. Most Blues enjoy talking about their relationships, so spend a brief moment or two chatting about their family, friends, or mutual acquaintances. They also like talking about their surroundings, especially if they’ve made contributions to them, so notice and mention the décor, the landscaping, the handmade crafts. Of course, this patter mustn’t be forced or insincere in the least, but natural and heartfelt.

As you communicate, make comfortable eye-to-eye contact and smile pleasantly. Assume an amiable listening position by standing or sitting near the customer, preferably side-by-side. You can also lean up against the wall or door frame to put your listener at ease. Blues like this cozy, warm exchange with an attentive listener. Don’t launch immediately into your pitch unless you perceive they’re growing weary of the laid-back repartee. Keep in mind that at this point, the primary objective is to establish a relationship filled with trust, respect, understanding, and thoughtfulness.

When it’s finally time to make your pitch, Blue buyers like to know how the product or service is going to benefit, in momentous ways, their lifestyle and interactions. They care little about statistics, warranties, and technical specifications, so don’t dwell on those. Focus instead on how it makes life better, easier, or more comfortable. A phrase such as, “You truly deserve this…” validates their unspoken feelings and soothes their consciences. Explain how it will make them or their loved ones happier, less stressed-out, and more contented. Tug on their heartstrings, for that is their most influential decision-making organ. If it feels good emotionally, they’ll probably swallow your arguments.

Because of their willingness to listen, you need to make a soft close early on to assess their commitment level, else you might end up having spent 45 minutes merely making a new friend.

Gold Buyers

Gold buyers are bound and determined to be in control of the entire sales process. Like most activities in their life, they prefer it to happen on their own terms and within their own timeframes. When an unsolicited salesperson approaches, a Gold will dismiss the misguided individual promptly, but politely. In fact, Golds meet most intrusions into their schedules with palpable disdain.

Golds expect professionalism, punctuality, and precision. They want to know they’re dealing with a businesslike salesperson who won’t waste their time by being late or long-winded. The presentation should be well- conceived, well-rehearsed, and well-delivered. The presenter should be well-groomed, well-organized, and well-behaved. In short, the presenter should look and sound and act like a responsible Gold, even if he or she is a luminous Orange.

Preferably, you will use a professional-looking presentation binder or computer slideshow to step through your sales pitch. This should include your company name, logo, license, patents, goals, statistics, and guarantees—all interlaced with full-color photos. If the materials are in a binder, make sure they’re laminated—this is evidence of permanence.

If the customer wants a handout that summarizes the salient points in order to avoid unnecessary note taking, don’t distribute it at the outset unless you want to give the customer an excuse to cut the meeting short. Bring out the handouts at the end, and leave them with the person so he or she can later peruse the important tangential facts, procedures, and policies.

During the presentation, give the customer plenty of credible incentives for making the purchase. Along with the advantages, you should disclose and discuss the disadvantages. Honestly explaining that, “We’re not a miracle service, you know,” will make potential buyers trust you more. In fact, it’s best to lay all your cards out on the table—Golds hate guessing games and surprises, especially when it affects the pocketbook. Be as forthcoming and truthful as possible; this will only increase your trustworthiness—a solid Gold characteristic.

Assume Golds have already thought about making a purchase. Say something like, “I’m sure you and your spouse have talked about getting this service.” A Gold will probably readily nod his or her head in agreement; otherwise, it indicates inadequate planning.

The presentation should be short and sweet, with plenty of time reserved to resolve concerns. If Golds want the meeting to run overtime, let them make that determination. By keeping focused on the bottom line and steering away from hype, you’re more likely to gain their respect—and their business.

Green Buyers

Most Greens are rather disenchanted with the whole buying and selling process. They view it as an outdated and inefficient way to acquire merchandise. Imagine having to spend time and fuel to travel to a distant location where items are displayed and warehoused, then having to hunt for the exact item you want while fending off annoying salespeople, followed by standing in a long line with other aggravated shoppers while a cashier leisurely scans in barcodes, takes your money, and makes change. It’s such a waste of limited resources—resources that could be spent in more worthwhile endeavors.

So as long as Greens are placed in the position of having to purchase things at a store or through a salesperson, they will continue to be dismayed and a bit irritated at the whole procedure. Thus, when approached by a peppy sales staffer, they’ll probably respond with a scowl and a mumbled reply. It’s best to leave these Greens alone. If they need help or advice, they’ll seek it out. Otherwise, they don’t want anyone to im- pede their investigation.

For many Greens, the purchasing process begins long before they leave for the store. In the comfort of their homes or local libraries, they’ll begin the data collection process to evaluate the pros and cons of different products and services. Perhaps they’ll rifle through a through a stack of Consumer Reports and review the favored makes and models, or boot up the computer and surf the Internet to dig up and compare manufacturer specs. Eventually they’ll narrow the field down to two or three finalists and then finally head for the store.

At the store, Greens will continue the investigative process. They’ll read the labels, slide the latches, push the buttons, and browse the user manuals. They’re looking for data to absorb, and that takes time. They won’t be rushed into making a hasty decision.

Greens are not persuaded by appeals to emotion, popularity, or celebrity endorsements. Employing a typical Green stratagem, they remain completely detached from sales pitches, not letting the salesperson interfere at all with the analysis. They only speak when they need to get facts and figures and when they are ready to make the purchase. Greens don’t need salespeople—they need answers. Preferably objective answers, without the biases of a loquacious commission-driven salesperson skewing the data.

Greens don’t tolerate traditional “buddy-buddy” sales tactics. They’re in the store to buy, not to chat away the day with a stranger who suddenly wants to be their best friend. To make a purchasing decision, all Greens need is access to a knowledgeable expert or database and a little space and time to formulate a conclusion. Nothing more, nothing less.

Orange Buyers

While a few Oranges don’t enjoy being a customer, most do. There’s something wonderfully appealing about being the center of attention and having salespeople fawn all over you, trying to get you to buy their wares. Sure, you know it’s a bit phony, and probably just a well-rehearsed act, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Shopping is a game—much like a high stakes game of five card stud, where bluffing and conning lead to the jackpot. If you don’t have a strategy or don’t play your hand correctly, you’ll lose every time. So Oranges enter an establishment with a flexible plan of attack and a poker face, looking for action.

What they really want is a salesperson who’ll play with them, and not some tightly wound fuddy-duddy. They prefer someone who’ll appreciate and reciprocate their light-hearted humor and good-natured bantering; someone who wants to turn a potentially dull encounter into something they can go home and tell their family about; someone who wants to have a rip-roarin’, lip-splittin’ good time.

Oranges don’t like to listen passively to a sales pitch; they prefer to do something that requires action. Whether it’s walking around a car lot kicking tires or looking under hoods, whipping out a loaf of bread and testing a line of toasters, or booting up a row of computers and testing out a memory-hogging video game—they want to do something while the salesman is rambling on and on.

In fact, they don’t really care about technical specs and particulars, they mainly want a clear, brief overview, and perhaps a rundown of the key benefits and features, especially the features that make the product bigger, newer, faster, better, shinier, or sexier that its competitors. They like being the first one on the block to have the latest and the greatest, even if it turns out to be a Ford Edsel.

Bells, whistles, flashing lights, and nudity attract Oranges like mosquitoes to a backyard bug zapper. They like a little risk, a little adventure, a little spice. If hype is good, sensationalism is even better. Nothing is quite over the top. Remember, Oranges like to be entertained, engaged, and kept on the edge of their seats. They follow their instincts and make decisions on the spur of the moment, even for expensive items.

When it comes time for the hard close, Oranges like to haggle, even if the price is clearly marked and not subject to negotiation. A savvy salesperson might sense this and artificially inflate the charge on an ancillary service, then after a fair amount of wrangling, lower it in “defeat.” When Oranges feel like they’ve won the game, then they’re more than happy to return to the store in the future, in hopes of making another big score.