I use the phrase "search marketing" to describe the process where your prospective customers are looking to buy a solution and you take the necessary steps to be found - but when you are found - why don't customers buy or even contact you?
Your Prospect Discovered Your Competitors
The first reason why customers don't buy is that in their search they didn't just find you but they found your competitors as well.
That is certainly one of the problems with search marketing.
While you have a potential customer who recognises that have a problem and might want a solution, a search on Google reveals your business and those of your competitors who have done a little search engine optimisation.
It's the same with Yellow Pages and attending a trade show.
What can you do?
Since you can't stop your customers finding out about your competitors, you can try to be found first.
You pick up everybody who is looking and not just those who will only click on the first 5 places in the search engine results.
Psychologists also say that in a choice the brain best remembers the first and last and things in the middle go a bit mushy. Tests indicate that first is best since it sets the standard and it is easier to mark down than up but I know sales people who like to be last so they can clinch the deal without the "I need to get some more quotes" stall.
Your Prospective Customer Doesn't Understand What's Special About You
The second reason why prospective customers don't buy from you is because you don't stand out.
There is nothing that looks different or special about your business that attracts the buyer to you in preference to a competitor.
Without that hook, unless the need is urgent - like a burst pipe - the tendency is to put off any decision to contact anyone. Your prospect wonders if there are better keywords to use and will search some more later, or perhaps one of their contacts knows someone who is good.
For more details see Emotional Selling Proposition and the links off it.
Your Prospective Customers Are Confused
The third reason a customer may not buy after searching the market is that they are confused.
That's what happens when the brain is overloaded with data that doesn't connect into a pretty picture of the customer, sometime in the future, happy with their purchase.
There can be too many options and it gets worse when you are not on a fixed budget as you can find yourself looking along the value for money range trying to understand what you want, rather than finding the best buy at a price point.
It happened to me over a new kitchen. Both Margaret and I were overwhelmed with choice because we didn't have a clear view about what we wanted and it took us over a year to make the decision.
Jay Abraham says that customers are silently begging to be led, so help your customers to buy with a consultative selling approach which focuses on their needs.
On a related point, if the prospective customer is not sure what you are offering, they may not have the confidence to contact you.
Everyone likes to feel smart and non one wants to feel dumb but I see websites that I don't understand.
Especially technology and management websites that are full of jargon and meaningless phrases like " we accelerate the positive and dynamic leveraging of strategic synergies between participating stakeholders". OK I made that one up but I am sure you have seen it.
They Don't Trust You
Sorry to be blunt but you may not have passed the know, like and trust test.
For more information on this please see my relevant article - why marketing doesn't work
Your Prospective Customer Thinks Someone Else Offers Better Value
In this situation the prospect doesn't buy from you because they buy from a competitor, believing they are getting better value.
It may not be true but that doesn't matter.
All that counts is what your prospect perceives, that is what they think, feel and believe.
Unfortunately they may have been conned by a competitor - on what they are buying or the price they will pay. I used to have a roofing contractor client who operated ethically but I heard stories of one competitor quoting low, taking the old roof off and then bumping the price up because of "unexpected problems".
You can also have the bait and switch tactics that can attract orders for products that are suddenly out of stock - but they do have this more expensive item that they will do a special deal on because they are so sorry.
Or more often the customer doesn't by from you because you have failed to communicate your case as well as you should.
Perhaps you didn't understand exactly what they wanted to achieve or didn't discover the criteria they will use to make the decision.
Or perhaps it is true, for them your competitor genuinely offers better value.
To reduce the opportunities you lose in this area, you need to improve your questioning techniques and then be clear in the way you present your solution against their problem and buying criteria. Look to provide proof where you can.
They Can't See How To Contact You
Sounds silly but I've been to websites where I can't see the contact details. Yes they are probably on the sitemap somewhere but make it easy.
I also know of advertisements with the wrong website address or telephone number.
If you make contact difficult, then unless you are very special, the average prospective will give up and buy elsewhere.
The solution is to make sure that contact details are clearly seen and that they are correct.
They May Be Nervous Of Contacting You
Your marketing may give off an "aggressive selling vibe" which makes a prospect nervous about contacting you and suffering a hard selling pitch which threatens to take control away from them and hand it to you.
It might be something about you that is making them nervous or they may feel out of their comfort zone and be looking for some particular kind of reassurance. Professionals are very keen to say "the first consultation is free" because when you think about lawyers and accountants, it is easy to worry about the money clock running before you've even decided they are right for you.
Perhaps contact is delayed because they are not ready to verbally admit to their fears and share their thoughts with a stranger or they may have concerns over confidentiality.
They Contacted You But You Didn't Respond
Sounds crazy but it happens all to often that a lead isn't followed up.
You give the prospect plenty of reason not to buy from you and to buy from someone else.
So record all leads coming in, including those that come in out of normal working hours and make sure that they are followed up.
They Didn't Understand The Offer
Your offer - this is what you get and this is how it benefits you for this much money - is at the centre of effective marketing.
Unfortunately many websites have plenty to say but never get around to making any offer.
Remember the marketing acronym AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire and Action?
Websites can do a great job on the first three but without an effective offer, you can't get any action.
It's like a boy wanting to go on a date with a girl. If he never asks her out, how will he succeed?
If you have an offer and you're not getting conversions, perhaps the offer is weak.
They Didn't Buy Because You Were Too Expensive (Or Too Cheap)
It's back to the value issue I covered above.
Some people do have limited budgets and if they can't afford you, then qualify early and stop wasting time. Others don't see the value.
It may seem strange but you can also lose customers because your prices are too cheap. Price is linked to quality in people's minds so a low price implies a poor quality product or service.
If you are offering a special deal that stretches credibility, give your reasons why - you bought too much, old stock that you are selling to make space for the new or you need to raise cash for a big tax bill.
You Didn't Ask For The Order - Or Didn't Ask Often Enough
Some people hate closing the sale.
Either they fear the result and rejection of that moment of truth or they think closing techniques are sleazy and manipulative.
Just ask for the order and tell the readers how to proceed.
And again. And again. And again.
Surveys show that sellers often give up before buyers are ready to buy so perhaps you didn't get the order because you didn't stick around long enough in the process.
The Prospect's Priorities Changed
Sometimes prospective customers don't buy because something happens and their priorities change.
The need to buy may change, there may be more pressing priorities or the ability to buy and pay may suddenly change.
They Weren't Ready To Buy
The Internet is a great place for research for people who aren't ready to buy but are getting ready to buy.
They don't need a hard sell. Attempts to close them will be rejected because they know they are not ready.
Instead the relationship needs to be nurtured.
This is where an offer of a free report, mp3 or video and a sequence of follow-up emails can be effective.
What Do You Think? Why Don't Customers Buy?
This article is written for the situation where the prospective customer recognises that there is a problem and is actively looking for a solution, finds you but doesn't buy.
Have I missed any reasons?
Can you think of times when you have been looking but haven't bought and if so, why didn't you buy?