Overcoming Hesitation In Sales: The Correct Way to Deal With Buyer Hesitation And Improve Immediate Sales
By Jessica Day - Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad
How to deal with customer hesitation and boost your sales
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If you have ever worked in sales, you might have experienced that horrible moment: you’ve explained a product to a customer, discussed it at length, and just as you can smell the success of a sale (and sometimes, that commission as well), but then they hesitate and you see that sale slipping away from you.
That scenario happens frequently in ecommerce too. When you look back at your data and metrics, you can see the point where buyer hesitation kicks in . Most often it manifests as your cart abandonment rate; consumers have placed goods in their basket but, for some reason, they change their mind and leave your site without making a purchase.
In fact, the average cart abandonment rate was a staggering 69% in 2021 according to the Baymard Institute. Of course, hesitation occurs at other stages of the buyer journey too, but that figure illustrates how big the problem is. Overcoming hesitation sales is an issue that any ecommerce business can face, so just how do you deal with it and try and boost your conversion rates?
What is buyer hesitation?
As the name suggests, it is a potential customer’s hesitation (or reluctance) to make a decision on a purchase. These days, we can use data analytics and other tools in every type of business, from data analytics and machine learning in manufacturing to measuring KPIs and metrics in ecommerce organizations.
Hesitation can happen at any stage of a buyer’s visit to your website, but while metrics such as bounce rate may indicate some sort of hesitation, it’s that dreaded cart abandonment rate that is the main indicator of something causing a customer to hesitate and/or change their mind about a particular purchase.
Why does buyer hesitation happen?
Image sourced from The Baymard Institute
Before you think about ways of overcoming hesitation sales, you first need to have some idea of why buyers hesitate clicking on that magic ‘buy now’ button. You also need to understand that in some cases, overcoming hesitation sales may be a next to impossible task, but being able to recognise the majority of times when you can overcome hesitation can help improve your sales figures.
- Just browsing. These customers have no real intention of buying, at least not now, and are just browsing products or services.
- In this scenario, a customer may want to buy but is comparing competing products to measure price and benefits.
- Unsure about benefits. the customer is unsure what benefits the product will bring and if it will meet their needs.
- Financial uncertainty. The consumer is unsure whether the cost of the product is worth it. This can include the cost of shipping, not just the product.
- Does it suit? This can happen with things like clothes. A potential buyer is unsure whether a product will suit them (or fit them properly).
- Red tape. Customers may hesitate when faced with complicated checkout or sign up processes or if they are unsure about security when it comes to card details.
- Returns policy. If a customer can’t see an efficient and easy returns process, they may hesitate to buy from you.
- Poor optimization. If your website is poorly designed or is not mobile-friendly, then that may lead to a lack of confidence in your brand as a whole.
Overcoming hesitation sales – 4 helpful strategies
Of course, there are many different ways of overcoming hesitation sales. It’s easier to achieve with in-person sales, as you can ask questions directly as to what is making a customer hesitate but these four strategies can be a first major step towards increasing your sales figures.
1. Anticipate questions and use reviews
You can’t anticipate every question a customer may have about a product or service, but there will be many commonly asked ones that may be part of a customer’s hesitation. There are two tactics you can employ to address these questions that may help eliminate hesitation. The first is to have an FAQ section on your website. These can be especially helpful with questions regarding factors such as shipping, returns, and so on.
However, using customer reviews can be even more helpful as you are using the voice of customers who have already bought – and are using – a certain product. Most customers will read the reviews before buying a product, so making reviews easily accessible is a great way of overcoming hesitation sales and ensuring a customer buys the product.
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User reviews on your site and on social media serve not just to highlight the value of a product but also to validate your brand. People don’t just want to know a product is good, they want to know your brand is trustworthy and reliable. It is worth remembering that 83% of customers view great customer service as an important factor when making a purchasing decision.
Guiding customers to reviews – of both your products and your organization – can be a great way to eliminate hesitation. If they can see that your products are of high quality, and worth the money, and that your business provides great customer service, then they are more likely to make a positive decision at that point of the sales cycle.
2. Listen and act
If you are experiencing a lot of hesitation and lost sales, what are the reasons for it? Identifying the reasons for it can help you change the things that are causing hesitation. This strategy can tie in with the reviews; is there a common gripe that customers have? For example, if you are selling a technical product such as a call flow system, maybe people feel that your tech support is lacking and this will be mentioned in reviews.
You need to ensure that the customer experience is as smooth and painless as possible. That means looking at every touchpoint to see if there are issues, issues that will most often be reported in reviews and/or customer surveys. By acting to improve the experience, you not only improve the customer journey, you demonstrate that you are listening to your customers.
You also need to remember that people are more likely to trust a brand when it is recommended by someone they know. So, if you actively listen to your customers and act on their complaints, then they are more likely to recommend your brand to their friends and family. As a result, you’ll see a cumulative effect of initial customers being less hesitant and then passing on your brand’s name to those they know.
When a customer reports any sort of issue, you should act on that information and solve the problem. For example, you may have recently implemented AI self-service into your website but found customers are struggling to use it. As with any new system, there may be some teething problems and the quicker you act to solve those issues, the happier customers will be.
3. Create urgency and reduce risk
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Everyone loves a special offer or discount, regardless of whether you’re selling a short course on email writing or shoes. And making them time-limited can create a sense of urgency and help in overcoming hesitation sales. People don’t want to miss out on something that they may perceive as not being available again. Fear of missing out (FOMO) can be a helpful tactic to overcome that initial hesitation.
You can also use special offers in other ways. Many people can hesitate due to the shipping costs involved, so why not offer free shipping for orders over a certain value? You can even use discounts to upsell or cross sell: offer a certain level of discount if the customer buys product A and product B, or even offer the second product for free. This can also be a useful way to reduce any overstocked items.
Always be mindful of your cart abandonment rates. If a customer tries to leave the checkout process, use pop-ups to offer a final discount if they make the purchase then and there. If a customer thinks they will only get that X% discount if they choose to buy now, then not only can you overcome their hesitation but also improve your cart abandonment rates.
4. Implement referral marketing
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As we’ve mentioned before, not only do people trust reviews, they especially trust reviews from friends and family. Making the most of these can be a great tactic in overcoming hesitation sales and giving your sales and conversion rates a real boost. You already know the value of customer retention and loyalty and the lower CACs (customer acquisition costs) that result, so why not expand that idea.
You may already have a loyalty program for those loyal customers, but turning them into brand ambassadors can bring greater rewards for you and them. It is also worth noting that having a good referral program can save you costs on more traditional B2C marketing methods, freeing up resources to improve other areas of your business.
When you have Mr. Smith as a loyal customer and a member of your referral program, then he knows that by referring Mr. Jones to your brand, he could earn cash or discounts as a reward if Mr. Jones makes a purchase with you. Mr. Jones can also get a discount as a referred customer if he uses Mr. Smith’s referral code, meaning it’s a win-win situation for all.
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These are just a few strategies that can help in overcoming hesitation sales. Sending follow-up emails to customers is another tactic that can work well and it can be automated to reduce workload to optimize your internal operating frameworks per Process Bliss business processes.
Every business wants to improve their sales and conversion rates and the first step in any approach is to identify why people are hesitating and not making a purchase. Those reasons will differ from business to business, but the strategies listed can help any organization address issues and see improved sales figures.