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3 Reasons Your Customers Won’t Buy What You’re Selling

By Julie Neidlinger on December 3, 2012 in News.

Are you making it impossible for customers to buy from you?

A sales echo-chamber is an ugly thing. It’s just you and some stuff for sale and a whole lot of silence.

You may have invented the better wheel, but if no one is buying it, you won’t be in business for very long. It’s not your customer’s fault. They are interested in buying, but maybe not from you. It’s nothing personal, but you’re doing three things that are hurting your sales.

Let’s just assume you have a great product worth buying; if you don’t, you need to fix that first. If your product or service is low-quality, good sales techniques will only make you fail even faster.

[Quote "Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster — David Ogilvy"]

There Is Confusion About What You’re Selling

Do you know what you’re selling? Do you know what your customer is actually looking to buy? Do the two overlap?

You might be selling you Widget, but the customer may be looking to buy what the Widget can offer. Eventually, the customer buys the Widget, but you can’t sell them the Widget for pure Widget’s sake. You have to sell “around” it. Your customer has to “buy” the benefits, the story, the guarantee, the peace of mind, the emotional fix, the brand — it could be any of these — before they actually buy the Widget. In this way, what you’re selling and what they’re buying don’t appear to be the same.

  1. Know what you’re selling, and know what they’re buying.
  2. Know that they might not appear to be the same thing.
  3. Find a way to sell in line with what they want to buy.

You’re not selling training, you’re selling a promise of success. You’re not selling a dishwasher, you’re selling more free time. You’re not selling a designer purse, you’re selling social status.

Stop selling the product or service, and instead sell the customer what they came looking to buy on their own.

There Is No Urgent Reason To Buy

Customers buy based on wants and needs. Convincing them that what you’re selling fits one of these two categories is necessary to making the sale. How do you do that?

  1. Show limited availability. Let customers know that they only have a small window of time in which to make the purchase, or that only a few will be able to buy it. This prevents them from putting off a purchase because they don’t want to make a decision just yet. You don’t want to be a sketchy salesman, but allowing for too much time to talk themselves out of a purchase, or watering your product or service down to meet the clamoring of the lowest common denominator isn’t doing you any favors.
  2. Tell the story. Everything is a story. It is the story that sells the product, the service. Your customers connect with the story and puts themselves somewhere in it in order to understand how they fit in with what you want them to buy. What story helps your customers see why they need what you’re selling? What story incorporates the benefits, not the features? What story makes it clear to your customer how it can help them, make their life easier, and not be a rip-off?
  3. Help the habit. Let them try out and use your product for free for enough time that they form a habit around it. It makes it all that much more difficult to not buy it when the free period is over. It’s become part of their habits and it feels more like a need at that point.

Some customers don’t take much convincing or work when it comes to selling, but that’s not generally the case. Give them a legitimate — but urgent — reason to buy.

You Make It Easy To Say “No”

How easy have you made it for customers to buy from you? It’s easy to make buying difficult, without even realizing you’ve done so.

  1. You offer too many options. Customers actually want you to decide for them, but they want you to do it in a way where they feel they have control. Instead of offering 20 different options for the Widget, you decide which three are the most important, and offer those three. They still get to decide, but you decided first. Indecision, and even paralyzed buying, happens when customers feel overwhelmed with all the options and choose to not decide (the safe and “default” decision) rather than worry about choosing the wrong thing. Too many options are just more complexity. By offering less, you are actually providing more value, because you take the weight off of their shoulders and onto yours.
  2. There are too many hoops. Make it easy to buy. Should be obvious, right? When selling online, for example, if you make your customer click through too many screens, sign up for email lists, answer surveys, wade through advertisements and promotions, or anything else but the main goal —  buy this —  you give them just one more opportunity to change their mind, one more page to click away and out of the buying funnel.
  3. You give them time to change their mind. Ever been to a Black Friday sale and seen the long lines snaking through a store? You’ll see a lot of items left along the way by customers who, while waiting a long time before reaching a cashier, had the opportunity to change their minds on what had initially been an impulse decision.
  4. Your pricing is off. You can’t price your product or service in a way that makes everyone happy, but you can take price sensitivity into consideration as you get to you know who your customers are. Optimizing your prices will require research, “field experience”, testing, and measurement. Price sensitive customers won’t bite if your pricing strikes them as too high for what they’re getting, or as too low and an indicator of cheap quality. Find that balance between great product, great price, and still protect the value.

[Question "What reasons do you see for a lack of sales to customers?"]