How to zoom from “I’ll think about it” to “I’ll take it!”

Is customer apathy at epidemic proportions in your business?

Are customers waiting longer than ever before to decide about working with you? You’re not alone.

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s “the economy”—or maybe it’s closer to home. You know your customers shouldn’t wait a minute longer, but they don’t seem to care. I’ve put together some real steps you can take right now for real results in great Customer Experience, and better leads and sales.

In order, from easiest to hardest… from best payoff to least… from DO It Now to maybe someday. Here’s how to take control of the situation and drive the buyer blahs away:

1. Make it pay off. Tell your customer—convincingly—that your product or service will pay for itself, or better yet, put money in their pocket, and the most uninterested customers suddenly want to know more. It’s no secret, but it is terribly underused. Take some time to think about this—lots of folks think they can’t possibly show how their product provides a return on investment (ROI), but with some creative brainstorming, you may find that you can.

2. Make it prettier. Ugly sells if folks need it bad enough, but pretty rides on Easy Street. Why put barriers in front of your sales? (And speaking of easy…)

3. Make it easier. Easier to understand, easier to buy, easier to install, easier to use, easier to tell their friends about? Easier than your company’s widget used to be, easier than living without it, or easier than the competition’s? There’s bound to be a way that your company can make what you offer easier. Almost everyone thinks their days are crazy enough without adding more hard stuff to them. Easy is one of today’s most powerful selling concepts.

4. Scare your customer. If I didn’t put it near the top of the list of ways to fight apathy, I’d be lying to you. Nothing gets a sale moving like fear of what happens if we do NOT buy. If there’s something urgently scary about not working with you, talk it up! (We also mentioned this and #1 last week as great tiny bars to step over.)

5. Get it to the right customer. If your customer takes forever to decide on the chocolate or the strawberry sundae and then always goes for the vanilla single-scoop (are you following my 95-degree-day metaphor?), maybe they’re apathetic because you’re talking to the wrong people. Find the people who are in the market for a sundae, and you won’t have to work nearly so hard. To get so little.

6. Find other people to talk about you. Crowing about yourself is fine, but third-person endorsements will always work better than the most convincing arguments of your own. Besides, other people have reasons to buy from you that you’d never think of on your own, and those reasons often speak right to the heart of your next customer. Try written (or video!) testimonials, mentions of your product or service in the press—even writing articles for magazines or newspapers yourself gives you their stamp of approval as an expert on your subject. Takes time to get this right, but today’s looking like a great day for you to start…

7. Make it cool. Get someone photographed with it; get Ashton Kutcher to Tweet about it; wear a black turtleneck when you talk about it. (One of my favorite interior designers in New York used to insist that everyone in his office wear only black suits with white dress shirts. “Easy on the budget is why I started it, but signature chic for my whole office is why I kept it up and made it a policy.”) Cool is hard to pin down, but if you can demonstrate your rockin’ awesomeness to the world, go for it.

8. Demonstrate long-term benefits. This is especially helpful if you’ve got lots of competition. If you can’t show #1, that your product or service pays for itself, then show how in the long run, your widget comes out cheaper, safer, or otherwise better than the competition’s. Does it last longer? Require less maintenance? Allow more flexibility?

9. Add extras. Yes, this also adds to your costs, but sometimes it’s the cool extras that move a “maybe” customer into the “yes please!” category. (Ever buy a Happy Meal for a whining nephew?)

10. Put it on sale. (With a caution, the reason why this is last on  the list from a Maximum Customer Experience point of view—It’s fine to make your products or services affordable to a wider group for a short while, but be careful with it. Don’t set yourself up as the place to get a bargain unless you’ve carefully thought out the real costs and the long-term effects of competing on price.)

If your customers are experiencing the blahs, kicking your tires for far too long, or *gasp* wandering off undecided, to drop their dollars elsewhere, give these techniques a try—and get them excited about buying from you right now.

What would you add to this list? What techniques have you used to cut through the “maybes” with your customers—or what’s always worked on you?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson