Picture this scenario: Your prospect has looked over an offer for one of your products or services and is now ready to buy from you. How you handle the next step can make or break you. Problems in this area may be costing you dearly in lost sales - right this very minute.
I invite you to do a bit of honest self-examination when considering the tips below. Acting to improve on what you discover could very well help boost your sales immediately.
1) How Easy Is It for Your Customers to Access the Information Needed to Buy From You?
a) For example, does the design of your web site make it hard to navigate, or is at least the majority of information needed to complete a transaction within easy access to your customers, with a minimal number of mouse clicks?
b) While you may wisely reduce the amount of repetitive customer service issues by answering questions through FAQs, (an acronym for Frequently Asked Questions) etc., some prospects may yet have additional questions not covered in the information you've made available to them.
Do your prospects have a way to contact you to have such questions answered, and do you have an efficient system in place for addressing such issues, promptly and efficiently? Is the form of contact convenient to your prospects?
2) What Forms of Payment Do You Offer Your Customers?
a) Do you require your customers to send payment to you by check, cash or money order only via regular postal mail? If you're selling online and not accepting credit cards, you're likely losing many sales.
b) What types of credit cards do you accept? Many types of businesses can increase sales by accepting payment by Visa and MasterCard, which are accepted in many countries around the globe. Accepting payment by Discover and American Express can increase profits by offering even more customer convenience, particularly in the U.S. (However, Visa and MasterCard encompass the vast majority of all credit card transactions.)
3) How Easy Do You Make It for Customers to Submit Payment?
a) Suppose that you DO accept credit cards. Even though online credit card purchasing isn't really more risky than other forms, many are understandably concerned about submitting their credit card data online. Are you setup to allow your customers to place online credit card orders through a secure server?
Accepting credit cards can certainly boost online profits; giving customers a SECURE method for placing online credit card orders can boost profits even further.
b) Some browsers (such as WebTV) don't support secure online transactions, but online credit card ordering may still be the preferred payment method. Do you give such customers the option to submit online orders through an optional non-secure form that would work with their browsers, should they be comfortable with that payment submission method?
c) Of course, many don't want to order online, regardless of the reason. Do you have an order form (preferrably just one page long) that customers can print out and fax or mail to you, along with payment by check, cash, money order, or credit card?
Also, is it easy for customers to copy and paste the text from that form into an email message, along with credit card data, for those comfortable doing so?
d) Are your order forms simple to use and understand, or confusing and inconvenient to your prospects? Have you tried to eliminate all guesswork for your customers, given them complete order details, and guided them gently and simply through the process of making an informed buying decision?
Any extra hoop you require prospects to jump through is an obstacle in the way of a smooth-flowing order process, and another reason to procrastinate or change their minds about buying from you.
e) Have you considered the option of letting customers place credit card orders by telephone, perhaps even through a 24 hour toll-free answering service, if circumstances warrant it?
f) If your budget permits and the situation calls for it, do you have a dedicated fax line, or perhaps a second dedicated phone, so you can conduct business through them while you are online?
Now don't feel bad if you find areas for improvement in the points above. Look at them as an opportunity to increase your profits. I've recently found a few areas that I can improve on myself, which is one thing that prompted me to write this article. There is ALWAYS room for improvement in every business in existence.
You see, the basic principle behind the above suggestions (all of which may not apply to your specific situation) is to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you. The easier you make it, the more likely they will.
Article by Marty Foley of Victory Ventures. His ProfitInfo Newsletter reveals proven, often overlooked strategies to build your Internet profits now: <[email protected]>. Discover a variety of resources for online success at his web site, including his latest book, Internet Marketing Goldmine: <http://profitinfo.com/>