Could you inadvertently be making it difficult for customers to buy from you? Do people seem intimidated by the suggestions you’re making? Unfortunately many of us think we’re doing our market a favour by being super upfront and transparent. But admirable as they are, those very traits could be scaring customers away.
Imagine, for instance a web designer. He meets with a potential client to discuss some improvements to their current website. But pretty soon it becomes evident that the client doesn’t have a brand strategy in place, needs help with their copywriting, and hasn’t decided whether or not they want to sell their products online. The web designer points out what needs to be done and assures the client that he will involve a branding specialist he works with and contract a great copywriter he knows. They’ll both work with the client to ensure the branding and messaging are right. He also suggests having a couple of strategy sessions with a business consultant he recommends. He points out that there’s no use improving the website until all of these things are in order.
It’s hard to argue against the web designer’s logic.
Of course it’s better to develop a website once all those other things are done. There’s no disputing that the web designer was honest and thinking of the client’s best interests. But is the client happy about this outcome? Was this really the best approach?
Scaring customers away is one of the top reasons sales are lost.
The thing is, now the client is stuck.
They now realise that to do everything properly, they’ll need a lot more money than they have budgeted and a lot more time and attention. Possibly more money and time than they have. How did this get so difficult? They just wanted to add a map and a couple of new product pages to their website and now they have all of these decisions to make.
So what do they do? Possibly nothing. It all gets too hard and they can’t work it out.
That is until they find another web designer with a different approach.
This one comes along and agrees to make those changes and it’s done in a few weeks. The client’s website is improved and they are happy.
Don’t Make It Difficult For Customers
In the above example, it’s easy to see that the first web designer actually took a situation that could have been fairly simple, and turned it into a big, complicated problem. But how are we doing that for our customers?
- Asking them difficult questions that they don’t know the answers to?
- Forcing them to involve other parties?
- Bundling everything up into one huge project?
- Highlighting all the difficulties associated with the work required?
- Asking for a big commitment in time or money?
When we do any of these things, we’re making it difficult for our customers to buy from us. Of course, there are some situations where you need to do some of these things, but only when you understand that this will reduce the likelihood that you’ll get the sale. (For example, some businesses might decide they only want certain types of projects.)
So what can we do about it?
Find Solutions, Not Problems
For one thing, we need to make sure we’re all about finding solutions (and not pointing out problems!). We recently wrote about how important it is to be optimistic in business – and how to regain your optimism. Make sure that whenever you point out a problem, you also say how you’ll resolve that (and make it seem easy!).
The next thing is to think about your pricing and project breakdown…
Use a Pricing Strategy That Gets You In The Door
Of course, you’d prefer a big project with a big budget so that you can do everything “properly”. But in reality, there are not going to be too many situations like that. Instead, we need to recognise that from the client’s perspective, choosing us represents a huge risk. So we need to figure out how to remove some of the risk.
You can do this by finding a way to start small.
Figure out something you can do for the client that will deliver great value for them and allow you to prove yourself. Not something that you think needs to be done before the real project can start – the client didn’t come to you for that. Instead, listen to what the client really wants and figure out the easiest way to deliver some of that.
In the example above, the client may have a sales promotion coming up and wants some extra information on their website. It’s easy to deliver that before thinking about anything else. After the client has worked with you and has a greater level of trust in your services, they might well be happy to start broadening the project.
But Shouldn’t The Full Cost Be Disclosed?
So am I telling you not to disclose all of the costs upfront? Isn’t that dishonest?
Think about most of the big purchasing decisions you make. The full costs are rarely disclosed (and frankly, we don’t want to know them!).
Imagine if someone had told you the full financial cost of having children. Yes there’s the nappies, extra food, but also the lost income, increased insurance costs, school fees, clothes, birthday parties, bigger car, books, etc. The list goes on and I hate to think what the total cost would be. People actually don’t want to know that number either! Once they have children, they’re happy to spend the money on them – but thinking about all of those costs prior to having their children would be extremely confronting.
The same could be said for buying a house or a car (in fact these days, the price of a car is listed often only includes white paint!). Most smart businesses are finding ways to make the purchase easier for their customers. And this includes making it seem inexpensive. Then, once the customer the thing that they wanted, they’ll be happier to spend more on it.
So don’t force your clients to face the entirety of the costs either. Once they have the solution they’re after, and they’ve experienced working with you, they’ll likely be happy to invest more into the project.
“Sell Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need”
I love this phrase and I think we can all learn from it. Instead of stubbornly standing in our truth, “knowing” what is best for our customers and refusing to budge, we need to figure out a way to “sell them what they want”. And then, only after the client has experienced our great service and has much more trust in us, we can have the tougher conversations and “give them what they need”.
It’s a matter of earning our way in. Softly, softly, slowly, slowly. But whatever you do, let’s stop scaring customers away! Find a way to start small, with little risk for the customer, and you’ll soon have a lot more customers!