One of the most basic principles of selling is that when a customer wants to give you money, take it. Take it as quickly and as seamlessly as possible. Any delay or friction is a chance for the customer to reconsider and for you to lose the sale. I saw this in action yesterday and it’s instructive for all of us.

English: Golf balls.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s almost golf season. Rotten golfer and cheap person that I am, I generally buy “recycled” golf balls for my non-tournament play. These are balls that some intrepid soul fished out of a water hazard (nasty work as this article shows) and which are cleaned up and sold by any number of websites. I usually purchase 8 or 10 dozen before the season begins and since I had a couple of discount coupons in my mailbox, I logged on to the site from which I’ve made several purchases before.  I put my purchases in my shopping cart and went to log in so I could check out quickly.  My login credentials are stored in a password manager, which filled in the user name and password automatically.  Unlike the other few times I’ve used the site, a box popped up letting me know that my credentials would be shared with Hubspot, a well-known CRM system.  That’s when the fun began.

I suspect it had to do with the use of a third-party cookie, but I couldn’t log in.  I was told my information was incorrect (it wasn’t) and they couldn’t log me in.  Sure, I could have called their phone number (listed right on the cart – props for that) but who knows how long that would take.  I also could have checked out as a guest, but then I needed to find my credit card and type in all the billing and shipping information that was already on file.  In short, they’d created friction in the sales process, and at the very worst moment to boot.  What was worse is that a chat window popped up (more CRM) asking me if I was finding everything I needed?  I responded immediately, explained the situation and was greeted by a reply that stated “Matt” (the name that popped up) would be with me shortly.  At that point “shortly” was too long.

Since I had a coupon for another site that offered the same balls at a lower price and a 15% discount along with free shipping, I ordered from the competition. Sure, I had to type in the information but at least now I was getting a better price.  While I was willing to pay a bit more to do business with a site I knew in a seamless manner, when it became a hassle, thereby lowering the value, price became an issue.  Interestingly, about an hour later I received an email (automated) asking me if I had forgotten something since there were items in my shopping cart.  I responded to the customer service address with a shorter version of what you’re reading.  Maybe I should have charged them for the consulting?

These guys did a lot of things right.  Their site is  helpful and easy to navigate.  The pricing and costs of shipping are clear.  They clearly are using CRM and lots of it.  But they failed at the most important time. Selling is hard but the process isn’t.  Explain how you’re solving the customer’s problem.  Provide them with great value for the cost.  When they agree, take their money, say thank you, and leave them alone. Prevent friction, provide support.  You with me?

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Filed under Consulting, Helpful Hints, Huh?

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