One of the most intriguing types of customer is the early adopter. Unlike the clientele of a motorcycle attorney, they’re not buying a product or service because they’ve got no other choice. Unlike the customers of security services and firewalls, they’re not buying things because they want the peace of mind and relative freedom from invasion they bring. Unlike the average consumer, they aren’t buying something because it is familiar and known.
The early adopter is characterized by a lot of traits, but the foremost among them is that they’re often the first customers in the emerging market for a new type of product. Think of the people that first bought Blu-Ray discs back when DVD was still the premiere format – that’s a good example.
Selling to early adopters isn’t always the easiest thing. They’re usually very knowledgeable about what the new thing is and have an idea how it can affect their lifestyle. It is part of why they’re so interested in making a purchase in the first place. This means that the salesman must have more knowledge than usual if they want to pull something of this nature off, as they will need to “compete” with the customer in an equal level.
The typical early adopter can also be a bit of a risk taker. The people that purchased HDVDs during the transitional period between DVD and its successor were early adopters, but they put their bets on the wrong format. Businesses can also be early adopters, particularly of new technologies – the porn industry is notorious as possibly the only branch of the entertainment industry that isn’t behind the times when it comes to the use of digital distribution media. However, nobody really likes taking on expensive risks. This means that a small part of the salesman’s job is to make sure that the risks of “backing the wrong horse” are minimized in the customer’s mind.
Early adopters can sometimes also be easy sales. Their knowledge means they know what they want already, so the salesman’s role can end up being little more than processing the order. This isn’t a guarantee, however. Some people know about new things and are eager to try them out, but may not necessarily be entirely convinced that they can’t wait.
Finally, early adopters are rarely the most reliable of customers. These tend to be drawn to things because they’re new. Once the excitement wears off, if it isn’t something they consider necessary to their lifestyle, they aren’t likely to come back for another round.