by Patty Azzarello
Recently I was on the street in a downtown area, and I came across a group of young people with clipboards.
One of them engaged me to share the plight of the polar bears, and all the bad things that are happening to them because of global warming.
My policy on donating to charities is twofold:
1. I have a group of organizations that align closely with my values to which I donate the bulk of my charitable contributions, and
2.Â If someone has a good pitch, Iâll usually give them something â 10 or 20 or 50 dollars, because I respect the work they are doing.
OK.Â So I want to help the Polar Bearsâ¦
I didnât need to hear a long story about the Polar Bears. I understood the issue. I cared.
This young woman was selling her heart out so I said, Iâll give you $50.Â
She said, âI canât take cashâ, what you need to do is sign up here for an ongoing monthly contribution.Â Your credit card will be billed each month for the amount you choose. (The lowest monthly contribution on the form was $20.)
I understand you canât take cash, I said, but I am not going to sign up for a monthly donation.Â Canât you check off somewhere on your form that this donation is a 1-time payment?Â NO.Â And then she proceeded to tell me why I was wrong to ask.
How to prevent your customers from giving you money
So let me get this straight.Â Here is a chance to get my name, my email, and my credit card information â and $50.Â And the opportunity to remind me forever after about the polar bears, or other related causes, and ask me for additional contributions forever after.Â And the answer is “NO, we canât do thatâ¦”
So I started thinking about all the things businesses do to prevent their customers from giving them money.
The root of it is thatÂ buying is an emotional decision for any product or service.
In the moodâ¦
I thought it was very well put by a shop owner I know in a town that is fairly wealthy, during the early days of the economic downturn. He was telling me, âItâs really hard.Â Clearly, my customers have money, thatâs not the issue.Â The issue is that they are not in the mood to spend it right nowâ.
Think about that.Â The opportunity of havingÂ a customer who is in the mood to buy.Â Wouldnât you want to do everything possible to tip them over the edge to buy from you, right now, while they are in the mood?
I was in the mood to help the polar bears.Â I was turned away.
If you have a customer who is in the mood to give you money right now.Â Take it!
More income-prevention techniques
Here are some additional things I have seen businesses do to âbreak the moodâ, and fail to close the deal.
1. We donât offer this as a product, only as a service.Â Or, we donât offer this as a service, only as a product.Â Know how your customers want to buy what you offer, and offer it their way.Â Yes, itâs harder for you, but thatâs why you get the profits â from dealing with the hard parts and making it easy for the customers to get what they want.
2. No online purchase option. Or the order and payment process is so difficult or confusing that people have to call you anyway. (strike 1) Then staff the phone with incompetent, annoying people, (strike 2) who canât help, or answer questions, let alone sell (strike 3).
3. We donâtâ take American Express. Get over it.Â Itâs a little more expensive to you as a merchant.Â But people like using their Amex card, and often have business reasons to do so.Â You are just demonstrating that you are not a real business.
4. This product isnât available yet â That may be true, but sell something that IS available now, and include an upgrade to the thing they want later.
5. Continuing to sell after the person is ready to buy.Â Â Thereâs almost nothing more annoying. Â Once the customer wants to buy â STOP selling!!
Dear Charity Organizations,
In my humble opinion, you should give this army of enthusiastic young people (not to mention the polar bears) a chance. Let them close the deal on one-time contributions and get email addresses of actual donors that you can upsell later.Â They are working their hearts out for you,Â and you have tied their hands.Â
Iâve since, been similarly approached in two more cities, and my one-time donation refused.Â
PS. Because I wrote the blog post and used the polar bears for an example, I have made a donation to help the endangered polar bears.Â But in general, by the time I get back to my computer and have the chance to go to your website, find the program I was interested in, to make a one-time donation, I am no longer in the mood.
Remember, Your product and your value proposition are only part of the reason people buy. If all of that is great, getting them to part with their money is still a personal, human, emotional action.
Whether you are selling shoes, subscriptions, or enterprise technology, make sure you donât miss the mood.
By the way, I later realized that online their online donation process didnât work! I was never charged. I went through their whole payment process, but they again failed to take my money.
Patty Azzarello is an executive, author, speaker and CEO-advisor. She works with executives where leadership and business challenges meet. Patty has held leadership roles in General Management, Marketing, Software Product Development and Sales, and has been successful in running large and small businesses. She writes at Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. You’ll find her on Twitter as @PattyAzzarello. Also, check out her new book Rise…
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