Remove Purchasing Obstacles to Increase Sales

This article topic may seem like a no-brainer. Yet, I often find that many businesses fail to embrace this very basic philosophy. To illustrate the point, I will share the outcomes of two recent shopping excursions.

Excursion #1

I entered a store with my two sons in tow. Drawn in by a sale, I was greeted by a friendly customer service rep. The affable sales person, noting that I had my sons with me, engaged my sons in an activity which enabled me to shop undisturbed. My sons were happy for the attention. I was happy with the bargains I found. My sales person was happy with the positive remarks I shared about her with her manager, as well as the credit for the sales. It was a happy outcome all around.

Excursion #2

I entered another store hunting for bargains. Once again, my sons were with me. I was greeted by a clerk. Yet, despite selling various items for children, this individual made my sons feel unwelcome. Rather than engaging them or redirecting their energy, the customer service rep scolded my sons for “touching things” and in general made me feel uncomfortable. The end result was that I grabbed a few items and got out of the store as quickly as possible–a less than satisfactory outcome for everyone.

Marketing Lesson

Between the two excursions, there was little difference in my sons’ behavior. Generally well-mannered, they are boisterous boys of 8 and 10 who like to run around. While I would prefer not to shop with them,  the reality is that sometimes that is just what I have to do to get my errands done. In both of these scenarios, my children represented a potential obstacle to making a purchase. In example #1, the clerk helped to remove the obstacle which allowed me to make my purchases. As a result, I purchased more. Whereas, in example #2, the clerk’s actions only enhanced my awareness of the obstacle. As a result, I felt pressured to leave quickly and spent significantly less.

While this anecdote is about retail shopping experiences, the take away is not exclusively for retailers. Every business, regardless of target market, can benefit from this lesson. To improve sales, make sure that you and your staff are doing your best to remove whatever barriers your clients may be facing in making purchases. Of course, their challenges will vary. But by taking the time to understand their decision making process, and helping to eliminate those challenges, your business will benefit from increased sales, improved client relationships, as well as repeat business and referrals. (Any guesses where I will be spending more time shopping in the future?)