Converting to a sale is the highest priority in any small business. No sales. No business.  So when your offer isn’t converting well or isn’t converting at all, you need to figure out why… and fast.

When a small business owner comes to us with an offer that is under-converting, here are the 3 “surprising” places we look first:

1) Barriers to Entry

One of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make is forgetting that your marketing is about your customer and not you. But this rule doesn’t end with making your customer the hero of your business story or emphasizing benefits over features in your marketing copy. It must also be top-of-mind as you set up the structure of your offers or risk creating barriers to entry.

Case study: “Tim” has a train-the-trainer offer, a comprehensive, 12-month training program. Tim’s credibility within his industry is high. However, the program structure that has been created requires participants to attend a 3-day in-person training once a month for 12 months. For people local to Tim, that is not a huge deal, but for anyone out of town, that’s 12 airplane tickets, 48 nights in a hotel, 144 meals out… you get the picture.

So while what Tim charges for the program is reasonable, the actual cost of participation includes more than $10,000 on average just for travel and accommodations not to mention the disruption caused by traveling once a month for a year!  Tim’s marketing must now be able to create a perceived value in the mind of a prospect 5 – 6 times what he charges for the program to effectively close a sale. Shew!

The fix: put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. What are you asking of them? Are you creating barriers to entry? Your offer structure must fit into their needs, wants, way of getting things done, etc., which may mean a departure from how you think something needs to get done. For example, if your offer is for parents of young children, don’t ask them to sit through long trainings. They don’t have the time!

In the case study above, we reduced in-person time from twelve times a year to two over the same 12-month program duration. The result was buyers who wanted to join all along but could not commit to the travel chose to join the program.

2) The Offer is Needed but not Wanted

This one is an ouch; an all too common ouch for entrepreneurs building “helping businesses.” You must be careful not to let your desire to help become just another version of co-dependency. The purpose of your business isn’t to save the world (or anyone in it); it’s to be profitable.

Recently, I was approached by someone at a party who, once she found out what I did, wanted to share an amazing concept, “that ALL yoga teachers need,” OK… but then the kicker, “…but, they don’t know they need it.” She said those words.

“Stop right there!” I said. “Don’t go down that dead-end road.”

And, I say the same to you. That road will break your heart and your bank account. With few exceptions, such as tax filing services, cardiac surgeons and mortuaries, what your business offers should be wanted as much or more than it is needed.

The fix: figure out how to lead your marketing with something that your audience wants. Once they’re in the program and you’re moving them forward towards having what they want, you’ll be able to also give them what they need.

3) Your Know-Like-Trust Quotient is Low or Non-Existent

Know-Like-Trust, or KLT, is critical in today’s savvy marketplace. People aren’t going to believe you just because you say it is so; you have to demonstrate that you are a credible, trustworthy expert capable of delivering on your promises.

The fix: here are a few ways to raise your trustworthiness in the mind of your prospects:

  • Publishing high-value content
  • Social proof – testimonials and similar
  • Sharing case studies
  • Showing up as an “expert” at events where your market is found
  • Actively engaging with other leaders in your industry

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MORE Sales: 5 Essential Questions Every Business Owner Must Answer About Their Product So You Can Craft Your Perfect Pitch

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