Most business people can easily rattle off reasons why customers should purchase from their business rather than from the competition. The ease with which most entrepreneurs can slip into discussions of their; experience, business model, qualifications, testimonials, etc. is almost second nature. While it is important to be able to answer that question convincingly and with clarity; there is another question that all too often remains unasked and therefore unanswered. Even worse, because it is neither asked nor answeered, it remains unacted upon.
Equally as important as asking why prospects should buy your products or services is the need to ask the question in reverse. Why don’t people buy your company’s products or services? When shoppers choose to buy something the business offers, but the customer chooses to buy it elsewhere – what are the reasons or contributing factors to that decision?
While it is not productive to ONLY seek out the bad, the mistakes, and dwelling on the negatives of lost opportunities and missed chances; there is value in truly considering what causes the customer to choose NOT to purchase from the business. Once identified, then the business can determine whether it is worthwhile to change how it markets, sells, manufacturers/produces products or services to better fit the needs of the prospect that chose not to purchase with the company.
Where to Look
By taking an honest assessment of the business from the perspective of the prospect or customer and seeing what about trying to purchase from the company creates a hurdle or an obstacle, the business owner can remove those hindrances in the future:
- Is the product or service a good fit or match for customer needs?
- Is it priced fairly?
- Does the prospect or customer know the product or service exists or is available for purchase?
- Are marketing materials, advertisements, Public Relations efforts aligned with the reality of product or service performance?
- When interacting with employees, do customers have a positive experience or not (do they have to wait unduly? Are their questions answered accurately? Are customer service calls handled efficiently? Is the store or website or any other contact the customer has with the company a pleasant one?
How to Start
As opposed to just mercilessly flogging oneself over every shortcoming and error from the past, it is advisable that only the most recent losses that SHOULD have been sales be reviewed. There is no sense going back into the long ago past and no relevance to review the prospect contacts where no real opportunity existed. Once isolated on those exchanges alone – review:
- was the value being offered by the company viewed similarly by the prospect or was there a misalignment between price/benefit/capabilities of the product or service?
- Was the “sale” much stronger than the ability to deliver (the advertising worked to generate interest, but the clerks answering the phone did not have necessary information to answer questions)?
- Did the conversation get too technical too quickly? Far too often, the customer is not as well versed in the technology of a product’s performance and can get confused when the discussion becomes overly complex before the BUSINESS needs have been addressed.
- Was there too much talk about the business and not enough questions asked of the prospect? The client or customer is approaching the business to get their needs met – not to be lectured to about the company.
- When websurfers come to the website, where do they linger? How long do they stay? What are they looking for (determined by what pages visited) and how well do you explain how you do that or provide that?
Once you have honestly and earnestly reviewed your business and identified why prospective customers chosoe not to make a purchase with your company, it is time to take the necessary steps to remove those hurdles from future encounters. Put into place the necessary changes that make sense to avoid losing those customers in the future.
However, do not merely copy what the competition is doing or try to replicate every other supplier of products or services the company sells. Part of what makes the business unique and in many ways desirable to the existing customers and future prospects is the differentiation that the company has in the marketplace. So, investigate why prospects choose not to purchase, make the changes that are appropriate, but do not lose the critical point of difference that makes the business identifiably unlike others.