Once Your Yellow Page Ad or Website Brings Customers In, Make Purchasing Easy for ThemBy: Dr. Lynella Grant
Smooth Out Customer Choice Points
Developing a trusting customer relationship is a process. And sales seldom happen without trust. A relationship builds as a sequence of steps follow one another. Whether contact occurs in a single encounter or over time, each step is riddled with choices. As the sales process goes along, customers have to be willing to take another step - to make further commitments (however small) of their time and attention.
When customers already trust you and are interested in what you’re offering, they’ll take the next step without hesitation. However, if they’re unsure about you (or had a prior negative experience), they’ll want to think about it - and just maybe that’s when they realize they aren’t all that interested after all.
Each buyer choice point actually ups the ante. On some unstated level, buyers know they’re committing to the next step, bringing the transaction closer to happening. These steps get riskier (for you as well as them) whenever you specifically ask them to do something more.
Choice points are precisely the places you’re most likely to lose them - when they bail out of the process.
Kinds of buyer choice points - Come into the store - Read the ad beyond the headlines - Listen to this audio tape - Visit the website - Pick up the phone and call - Try it for 30 days without obligation - Take a test drive; check out the product - Write the check - Negotiate the monthly payments for a purchase - Present their credit card
Sour notes that creep into the experience can break the inevitability of them taking the next step. These interaction points represent higher risk to sellers, because that’s when buyers are is most likely to reconsider or flee.
Anything that breaks the steadily building momentum puts the sale at risk. And just because the deal’s complete, don’t relax. There are always plenty of reasons why a person changes her mind and wants out (or returns the product) afterwards.
That’s why even free offers can be a hard sell. A person has to think about whether it’s worth the effort or inconvenience to try or assess something new. Whether it’s worth changing their existing preferences to consider what you’re offering.
Reduce Obstacles that Make Customers Walk Away
Imagine a typical sales process that takes eight-steps, from the time the person steps into the store (or website) looking for a particular product, until she walks out with it. What percentage of your potential buyers taking the first step make it through to the last one? If you want them to complete the whole sequence, it’s critical their entire experience moves as smoothly as possible.
Identify each place where your procedures impose upon customers. (Who cares if the competition does it, too! Solving the “glitch” gives you an advantage, while showing respect for buyers.) Do they add extra aggravations or increases the likelihood of them walking away? What could be done to make interaction points less risky or annoying? Become obsessive about getting them so smooth and trouble-free that they’re hardly noticeable at all.
Assess each obstacle/choice point you’ve got built into the buying and paying process. These are the exact places where you’re losing customers - and sales. When customers can’t get the help needed, can’t find the product in the model or size wanted, can’t navigate through the check-out without mishap, she’s likely to stop midstream.
Let’s assume that she gets all the way through and completes the purchase, despite the obstacles. What are the odds she’ll be in a hurry to come back?
Online, seventy to ninety percent of those who start to make a purchase don’t complete the process (abandoned shopping carts, etc.). These were people motivated enough to attempt to buy, and gave up. It’s unlikely that figures are anywhere near that high in retail situations, but they’re still much higher than they need to be. Anything that cuts customer bail-out goes straight to the bottom line.
Keeping Customers is Much Easier than Getting New Ones
Yellow Pages ads are primarily a tool for acquiring new customers (your “unknown” market). And a business needs to do that routinely. But with all the effort spent finding more business, it’s easy to forget that getting buyers to come in is easy compared to building a long-term relationship with the ones you have (your “known” market). That’s at the heart of repeat business. As you eliminate the aggravations of doing business with you, you’ll see more of that.
© Copyright 2005 Off the Page
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