How to stop potential customers from walking away

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When faced with your product, service or business, customers make a series of decisions that result in either becoming your client or not. What makes them trust you? What turns them off? Here are some of the decision points you need to understand to prevent potential customers from walking away.

Building trust

One of the primary factors in winning over a potential customer is trust. When people do business with you, they are either switching brands or purchasing something for the first time, which requires time, money, effort and consideration. If your business seems risky, those potential customers will either stay with the brand they trust or keep their money in their pockets.

What excuse do customers give for not going ahead with an offer?

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  • “My business isn’t ready for that.”
  • “Will it work?”
  • “I can do that myself.”

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The underlying reason behind comments like these is a lack of trust. If your business seems risky, potential customers will exhibit behaviour such as:

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  • Continuing with their existing product/service.
  • Deciding to go without.
  • Choosing to trust one of your competitors. (Ouch!)

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To convert leads into sales and generate genuine referrals and repeat business you need to build trust. There are a number of ways to do this:

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  1. Referrals and testimonials: Word-of-mouth is invaluable. Encourage your existing customers to refer you to their network, or elicit testimonials from your happiest clients. You could also have strategic partners in a complementary field who refer your business to their customers, for example a mortgage broker who refers business to a conveyancing firm.
  2. Positive media coverage: When a media outlet values your opinion, expertise or business activities, you’ll find customers will too. Case studies of how you helped a customer can be demonstrative of how your business works. A PR agency can help you with this.
  3. Education: By offering helpful advice, for example through a regular column or blog, social media or via webinar, you and your business will be seen as trustworthy.
  4. Samples and trials: Confident businesses often have ‘try before you buy’ offers with samples or trials so potential customers can see if the product/service matches their requirements. Businesses give away samples of new products in letterbox drops or conference goodie bags, or offer trial periods for everything from software to gyms.
  5. Awards: Winning an award, or even becoming a finalist, is a great way to boost your profile as well as engender trust. Be selective about the awards you enter and aim for the ones your customers trust.

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Understanding customer needs

The second decision point a potential customer will come to is: how will your business serve their needs and requirements? People don’t get emotional and passionate about ordinary products, a satisfactory result or a fair price. They will most value the element that pleasantly surprises them, that convinces them that their individual needs will have some resolution.

Developing a relationship with your potential customer and understanding what their needs and requirements are is the first step. Having your business, via its products or services, address those needs is key. Potential customers need to believe that you understand them, be confident that you can solve their problems through your service and business offering and access evidence that your business is as good as you say it is.

Providing evidence

How can you provide evidence to ‘prove’ your business is worth their trust? Start with a transparent and approachable attitude. Potential customers must feel comfortable enough to bring up questions and concerns and this could happen through a number of channels such as face-to-face, phone, online forums or even over social media. Go where you hear the most candid voices.

The second part is to have independent evidence available. Sources such as media coverage, awards and genuine testimonials are all good ways to provide credible information about your business and allow people to learn how you do business.

Finally, even when you have won over a potential customer, you must continue to ‘win them over’ by aligning what you say with what you do. Your and your business’ behaviour will continue to shape how customers view you and how much ongoing trust they will put in your organisation.

If you think you can improve your lead conversion and increase referrals and repeat business, take a good look at the areas where you’re losing potential customers. You may find that those customers may simply require you to be more forthright about the credibility and suitability of your business for their needs.

This article, written by Managing Director of Good Business Consulting, Phoebe Netto, originally appeared in My Business magazine.


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