Wherein Kelly gives away the big trade secret you can’t afford to go one more day without!

Profiling for Maximum sales

Three customers step into your store. The educated, involved red herring, RH, was the guy you noticed first. I don’t blame you. He was talkative and even fun. There’s also a guy walking around with his head down, no fun at all. Doesn’t want any help.

One guy’s strolling around, looking at a bit of everything, familiarizing himself. Right away he says “just looking” when your friendly staff steps in to guide him. Yet he spends much longer than your average customer in the store (or on the site).

Is he your Ideal Customer?

This week, Experience Design 201: a special series on profiling your customers to increase your sales.

Part Two: BFF, the Little Surfer Boy

BFF’s not the obvious choice when you’re deciding who needs help in the store. He’s got a vague interest, but he takes his time. He’s not seeking attention. Doesn’t seem to require immediate help. BFF’s content to read every sign, look at all the merchandise, and get deeply into your aura—all on his own. He doesn’t want to push you into helping because BFF knows what you don’t know.

He’s probably not going to buy today.

No need to monopolize your time. Now that he’s getting interested, he’ll read all your product descriptions online; he explores every new item that comes in to the store; he’s up-to-date on the parts of your your brochures that you thought only your mother would read; he’s becoming an active commenter on your blog or a buddy on Twitter. BFF has no real need, though he may have a growing desire to work with you. Very often, BFF knows he has no money.

One day, you captured him with your remarkable story, when he was reading or strolling; the next thing, he’s exploring and fascinated; then one day you realize he’s your Little Surfer Boy, delighted to surf the website or roam the aisles, not causing any headaches; he rarely, if ever, contributes to the bottom line.

Surely, this can’t be the Ideal Customer.

Is that a problem?

A resounding No.

RH, who we talked about in Part 1 of this series, was a classic time-waster—and off to waste someone else’s time as soon as he’d wasted yours. In contrast, BFF rarely demands your time or efforts. He knows he’s “only” a fan and his mama raised him not to lead you on.

He’s only a what?

Dear reader, BFF is a fan. More—he is in fact, your Best Friend Forever. And BFF is about as valuable as it gets. Yet he gives you very little business, either because your field is more of an interest than a need, or because he simply can’t afford you. Either way, he thinks you rock!

What can we do about our Best Friends Forever?

Let ‘em surf to their heart’s content. Nurture them. Appreciate them out loud. These folks may, one day, have needs or circumstances that change, but that’s not what you’re counting on. Without any change in his buying profile at all, BFF is gold if you treat him right, because BFF—if you enjoy him as much as he (obviously!) enjoys you—will become:

The Propheteer.

What’s a Propheteer? As we discussed way, way back in Experience Design 101, a propheteer is a cross between a prophet (someone who preaches) and a volunteer. A Propheteer is out preaching about you, without any compensation at all, right now while you’re reading this article. How cool is that? And I know I said “no jargon” in part one of this series, but I’m breaking my own rule for BFF. He deserves the special recognition of a little jargon. Propheteers are the raving fans we want you to have more of.

Propheteers may be your number one source of word-of-mouth referrals. Whether they’ve bought something small from you or never purchased from you at all, they become so well-versed in what you offer that they’re an extension of your sales force. There’s a little guilt mixed in with it: they feel funny that they’re not big purchasers, so they look to spread the word to connect big purchasers with you. There’s a little hero-complex: they want friends to be impressed with the quality of their advice, and they want you to feel as great about them as they do about you. Sending business your way is bound to achieve both.

If this sounds like Kelly’s gone a bit cynical, I haven’t at all. Here’s the big secret that I promised not to tell when I graduated from Experience Designer University:

Not everyone can be your customer.

I know, I know! I think you’re awesome, too. It’s hard to believe, but not everyone needs what you’ve got. Some, not right now. Some, not ever. So what to do when you discover that some of the billions of people on this planet will love your company without forking over cash?

Love ‘em right back. Be awed that they’re your Propheteers. Plenty of folks would kill for that fan base!

Ease the guilt at every turn by telling BFF how much you value him. Make sure he knows that he is, in fact, one of the heroes your firm relies on for growth, and that you’re proud to know him. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to ask this guy for a thing.

Say it. And MEAN WHAT YOU SAY. That’s it.

Changing “I think you’re so killer rockin’ great” to “I’m ready to buy”:

He walked in without a clue about you and over time he’s come to care about you and your company sincerely. If his circumstances change, fear not, he’ll let you know. Right now he doesn’t need you, or can’t afford you, and you can’t change that, but you are top of his mind.

Why would you want to tamper with someone who’s scouring his friends and colleagues looking for someone to introduce you to? Embrace him!

Catching his eye:

Remember that the Little Surfer Boy has time to read. Relevant text links to your products and services—at a moment when he’s thinking, “hey, I know someone like who could use this”—help BFF to be the hero to his colleagues (and a hero to you!).

And while we’re talking about text: write a blog. There’s no better way to energize BFF than to let your story emerge over time through blogging. After all, blog readers and commenters make the most wonderful, smartest, friendliest, most welcoming group of singing and dancing referral machines…

Anybody think I’m going too far with this?

Nah, because it’s all true. Blog readers are slick, savvy, loyal, word-of-mouth gurus…

and handsome, too. You, for instance, are looking gorgeous today. I noticed.

Feeling energized? So energize your BFF, and write a blog already!


To continue…

This guy will never fail to read your About page. Not everyone wants to know about you and your company, but BFF thinks knowing the history and the details that brought you to where you are is cool.

Clear, compelling navigation will get further with surfers than the best site search in the world. He doesn’t have a precise objective on your site, so navigation tabs or buttons that guide him along your sales path (even if he never makes it all the way to the sale) are the way to go. BFF might be one of the few site visitors who actually follows the path you expected all your visitors to take!

In-store, make your layout tell a story. Showing items in use, giving suggestions that encourage more exploration, creating functional groupings, and holding in-store events all encourage lingering and telling the story of you later. BFF enjoys spreading word-of-mouth. Make it easy!


To the core. BFF is someone you’d have to work to shake—and friends, that’s a rare commodity.

Designing Maximum Customer Experience for BFF involves:

Personal touch


Long-term delight

To get the long-term rewards, you’ve got to put in the effort.

If it’s an effort to be sincere, appreciative, and to enjoy BFF’s company, that is.

No fancy techniques here. BFF is not a chain yanker and would never expect you to take time away from paid clients. But don’t neglect him, either: know any ball players, singers, or actors famous for not signing autographs? Yeah. Word gets around. A BFF spurned can be a thorn in your side.


I can’t say this strongly enough: this could be your biggest source of revenue, whether he ever hands you his own dollars or not.

If that’s not enough of a “Pro” for you, BFF may, in fact, become… a very good friend. Ah, personal warm fuzzies right here in the middle of our 201 class!


Give me a minute. I’ll think of something.

Best bet:

Learn to recognize BFF. Nurture your relationship, deliver delight, and give him a story to tell to others. He’s on your side and pulling for you all the way. This is what you hoped for when you started your business, all starry-eyed, in your garage late nights after work.

Propheteers like BFF will help you create maximum sales in minimum time.

When you’re the BFF (we’ll all fall into each buying profile at different times and for different items), how far will you go to spread the word about the company you’re a giddy Propheteer for?

What’s your favorite way to let a BFF know how much you appreciate him?

Go grab your cap and gown, dear reader. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll wrap up Experience Design 201 in MCE-style. Please take a moment today to subscribe to the Maximum Customer Experience Blog (at top left, it’s free) so you can have updates delivered to your RSS or email inbox as they happen!


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson