Make it easy to buy

One of the things I like to pound into your head with the subtlety of a ball peen hammer tapping on your forehead the morning after your 21st birthday is making it easy to buy.

Joel just did that, finally.

One of the differences you’ll find from a company doing ok in a business and another one doing really well in that same business is how easy it is for you to buy from them.

I’m talking about things like…

  • buying online.
  • buying on payments.
  • buying via credit card (how many places STILL don’t take Amex – the standard business card – because they think the discount fee is 6% – and why does Amex still not educate anyone about it?)
  • buying via fax (seems obvious, but look at a lot of online stores – no fax numbers)
  • buying via phone (seems obvious, but look at a lot of online stores – no phone numbers)

But it’s not always about the money. Sometimes it’s about how hard it is to get started with whatever you sell.

Many moons ago when I still owned the photography software company, I had a client come up to me at a trade show and tell me that they had finally started using our product. They couldn’t believe they had waited so long and were in love with it.

The “waited so long” part got my attention, so I asked what they meant. They told me that they just never found time to go through the thought process to setup their prices and otherwise educate the program about their business. This was critical to the success of this program in a studio. It knew A LOT about what happened in the studio, how long things took, how much they cost, who did what jobs, how long different kinds of appointments were, what your turnaround times were on each step of your order processing workflow, what steps were built into each kind of order processing workflow, which steps required materials to leave the studio to a third party vendor, and a slew of similar “unusual” things that most  business programs don’t pay attention to.

The downside of this was that it took some time to set the program up – since you had to educate it about all of your little rules, prices, people, workflow, etc. In some cases, the somewhat disorganized studio that was growing like a weed had to figure out what their rules were, what their workflow was, etc.

This took a lot of time.

The ball peen hammer was that conversation. The couple told me that they rented a hotel room for a weekend and sat down and thought their entire business through as they setup the program.

To be sure, this was a substantial benefit to them, but it hit me hard that we were doing a few things wrong. We were leaving money on the table (lost sales), and we weren’t doing as much for our clients as we should (because they had to climb that “setup the program” mountain).

So we created a simple 7 page questionnaire, written in their lingo. Eventually, it got longer, but it was still in plain English.

All they had to do was pass it around the studio, have the appropriate person fill out the forms and call it a day. They’d fax it to us and we guaranteed to have their program setup and ready to use in 7 days or less.

At first, we’d email them a zip file and then support would call and step them through unzipping it and getting them going.

It worked GREAT. Sales went through the roof when prospects found out we’d set it up for them and guaranteed it within a week. Best of all, our competitors didn’t get it and never emulated the process:)

Later, we added an online backup and restore capability in our program, so we could upload their databases all setup and ready, then tell them to “restore” their data – which gave them a ready to use program. Even less trouble, and anyone in the studio could do this with about 3 clicks.

Again, sales went up.

The next barrier we found was a high price of entry.

So we added a small down payment and hit their card monthly until it was paid off.

Sales went up substantially.

All these things happened without adding new features (other than the backup thing) and without customizing the code.

We simply made it easier to buy, while everyone else seemed to make it harder by using hardware keys and treating their clients like thieves.

Make it easier for your prospects to buy.