The first purchase a new customer makes with you is the most important transaction you’re going to have with them. So much is riding on its success. If your customer’s first purchasing experience meets or surpasses their expectations, they are likely to make subsequent purchases. And then further purchases, all the while developing an ongoing customer relationship. If their first experience is less than ideal, they won’t be coming back anytime soon.
By nurturing this relationship, your customer will begin to depend on your expertise to the exclusion of all others. You become the trusted advisor. You become the port for all future purchases. If you’re lucky, your customer will even become an advocate and recommend you to their family and friends.
It all starts in being there for that first sale.
A Customer’s Perspective: Their First Purchase
From a customer’s perspective, their first purchase is a difficult moment. They are not sure if they can trust you. They are not sure if your product will suit their needs and they are not sure how their friends will react. In short – they are not sure. Sometimes they’ll even ditch the planned purchase entirely, because there’s too much fear. Other times the purchase is deferred again and again.
And then, finally the customer strikes up the courage in their busy schedules to either give you a call, send you an email or drop by. This is your opportunity to shine. This is your opportunity to show them that your small business can save the World.
After a brief pleasantry, do you put your foot in it by giving a negative response like:
- ‘Sorry we’re about to close’
- ‘We’re out of that product’
- ‘Susan’s not in at the moment, she’ll be back next week’
- ‘Nah, we don’t do that, sorry.’
- Any other of the 15 mistakes that damage your small business
Ouch! Imagine that. The first experience your potential customer has with you is negative. You’ve indicated that you can’t help them.
Your potential customer retreats with their tail between their legs and looks for another solution. Not knowing that you could have actually helped, if you tried a bit harder.
Understand what your customer really needs, rather than responding to what they say they need. You could have an easy solution.
My Poor First Service Experience
We have three fish & chip shops within a 3km radius of home. While walking one day, I entered one of the shops and asked for a menu, the owner may have been under some stress and so shouted: ‘No menu, no menu.’ I then quickly exited stage left.
Result: I was looking for a good fish & chip shop, which could have become my regular haunt. This experience left me feeling embarrassed and vowing never to come back.
The First Sale is Critical for Service Businesses
The first sale is especially important for high loyalty service businesses such as health professionals, hair dressers, mechanics and tradesmen. If these professionals have good skills, comparable rates and good procedures, there’s a better than evens chance that every first purchase can blossom into an enduring customer relationship.
Knowing this, it’s a matter of welcoming the first purchase – even if it means bending over backwards. Even if it means working a bit later, making a few phone calls or sourcing a new product. Think of this as an investment in securing a long term customer relationship. The first sale isn’t one monetary transaction. It’s the chance to earn the right to a long term relationship which could bring in thousands of dollars over the coming years. Perhaps decades.
My Excellent First Service Experience
I recently bought a kitten. Within a few days she became sick, so I searched for a local vet. The first two vets I called could not see my kitten within my lunch break – as that time was designated surgery time. The third vet also had designated surgery time, but made the time to squeeze my kitten in, because she was concerned (and could tell I was a new customer).
Result: I’ve found a vet that I’m happy with. And this vet will receive all my future business, which could total thousands of dollars over the coming years.
Have you had a particularly good or bad experience when first approaching a business? Did that influence your decision whether to continue using them?
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