“Purchasing pain” is what can stop a customer from purchasing goods or services. If a customer feels cheated or if the process is not worth it, then the customer will not make a purchase. Overall, customers want solutions to problems without creating another problem in the process. Catering to the customers’ concerns can be a valuable strategy in ensuring future sales.
What Makes Customers Have This Pain?
Generally, we all want to avoid pain while increasing pleasure. Customers want to solve problems (avoid pain), but they also want to be sure that a proposed solution will work. Sometimes, they are put off a purchase if there is a large price (both in terms of money and effort or time) upfront. That can keep buyers from making a choice quickly. In tech markets, this is behind a total upheaval in how customers buy called “Software As a Service”. Customers are also concerned with whether or not a particular solution or product will fit their needs because they have individual requirements. Another concern of customers is the overall experience or context of a solution—if customers feel frustrated or alienated by a process, they will not want to experience that again. If a situation is not in the forefront of a customer’s mind, the customer may feel as if there is not a rush to making a choice. Finally, customers may avoid a product or service if they feel they are committing to doing a large amount of work. Most buyers will prefer help on the way to their solution.
Using Pain for Sales
In many cases, it is harder to bring pleasure, so avoiding pain is usually more helpful. Essentially, the goal of working with customer pain is to provide them reasons for why a product will fit their needs and why it is the best solution out there.
The main way to address this issue is to demonstrate how a product or service can solve a problem. Keeping the customers’ needs in mind is a good start to advocating for your solution. It is also important to work with the customer and create a sense that they are an individual instead of just another sale—involving them as an active participant in the process makes them feel as if they are getting more care and a better product. Some companies create a sense of community around their offerings to make the personalization even more noticeable. Harley Davidson and Apple come to mind. Selling goods with a story can also appeal to emotions and take the customers’ idea of a product from abstract into more concrete and personal terms.
Easing the customer’s burden is another valuable tool. If a customer feels a service requires too much money or effort, the customer may not make a purchase. However, if a company can make the process easy for a consumer, the product becomes more attractive. Because they alleviate so much pain in the decision process, “As a Service” offerings have turned tech industry on its head. Companies as diverse as Salesforce.com and GE are pushing the envelope on the As a Service model. Creating what seems like less of a commitment can also increase interest in a product. For example, many services offer a free trial. A customer seeing this sees no risk in committing to a trial. Companies that offer payment plans are also using this idea—instead of paying a huge amount up front, customers think of the payment plan as a much smaller amount over time, which seems more manageable. The transition to As a Service represents a shift in purchasing from the capital budget to the operating budget. This often moves the decision locus within the organization. When capital is required, executives and even the board can be involved. By contrast, the operating budget is largely controlled by the department head. This can potentially shorten the sales cycle and increase the odds of completing the sale.
From a pricing perspective this is a good news – bad new story. The bad news is that you have fewer revenues up front. This has been tough to navigate for traditional software and hardware companies. On the flip side, you are securing a long term recurring revenue stream with upside potential.
Thirdly, a company can use timing in several ways to address customer needs. If customers feel no pressure to make a purchase, they can become indecisive. Suggesting that a product is only available for a “limited time” can push consumers to make a choice. Timing can also play a role by connecting a good to recent events. For example, a company that sells flood insurance will see a growth in sales after another region has had flooding. Consumers are thinking about flooding because it is a recent thing and they are more likely to be thinking about flood insurance.
Avoid Purchase Pain To Increase Purchases
Considering the “pain” of customers is an angle that many companies can use to address their customers’ needs. Valuing the customer as a unique individual and making the decision process as easy as possible can go a long way to getting a customer to value a product.