Driving Miss Customer

Now, you know Miss Customer, I was just trying to help you out.

That’s one way to react to a direct and demanding customer. But for small business owners who recognize this is a customer with a driver’s buying style, it’s better to pull out the facts and get to the point.

A driver is one of four personality styles identified by researchers, Merrill and Reid1.

They found that it’s easy for drivers to strongly voice their opinion. They tend to be more formal and controlled when you talk to them.

Spotting a Driver

While it’s important not to paint with too broad a brush when it comes to identifying specific styles, here are some behaviors that may mean you’re dealing with a driver:

  • Goes directly to the part of the store that has what they need (and if they don’t see it right away, they’ll ask where it is)
  • Wants to see the exact dimensions of an item on your website (to know whether it will fit in their space)
  • Will ask to talk to the manager
  • What they might say:  I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now so just cut to the bottom line.

Responding to a Driver

The key to dealing with a driver is to respond to their need for relevant information. They tend to make decisions quickly so you need to provide information that solves their problem.

Here are some ideas that may help you appeal to drivers:

  • Don’t just tell them the features of your product. Tell them how it helps solve a problem or meet their needs
  • Limit small talk. Remember, they’re not seeking a friend; they want information they can use
  • Use customer testimonials only if they talk about the results realized as a result of using your product or service
  • Be polite, but get to the point. Don’t beat around the bush

It’s easier to talk with drivers when you respond to their need for relevant information. Watch for their directness and you’ll drive to more sales with this customer type.


This article is part of a series titled Decipher the Customer Code based on Merrill and Reid’s customer personality styles. In our post we elaborate on A Beautiful Analytic Mind.

1 Merrill, D. W. and Reid, R. H.  Personal Styles and Effective Performance, Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1981.


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