I’m always confused by how hard companies make it on consumers to buy their products, online, and in “meat space.”
Have you been to a Walmart or a Best Buy, lately? Good luck finding someone to help you with your purchase (or even finding what you want to buy, for that matter).
For enterprises, purchases are often as much an exercise in persistence and diplomacy, than they are a straightforward transaction, as you haggle with vendors, channel partners, and sales people.
But there are a few companies that absolutely understand the KISS principle.
Southwest Airlines makes it ridiculously easy to book and purchase online tickets. Dropcam sells their cool HD WiFi cameras in a very easy online process (plus, free 2 day shipping!). BlueJeans network sells their awesome Software-as-a-Service teleconferencing bridging service via a drop-dead simple “try if for 14 days free” online form. And it goes without saying how easy it is to purchase goods from Amazon.
In short, these companies “get” the brilliant concept that it should be drop-dead simple to acquire customers, and sell them goods and services that they want to buy – now.
When I hear of companies that are struggling with their sales, more often than not it has to do with their sales cycle, as much as it does their products.
In my first year as CIO at Hendrix, I had one national vendor that I kept trying to give business to (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range), that I couldn’t seem to even get interested in taking a purchase order. They are now firing thousands of people – and I am in no way surprised; not because they didn’t take my money, but because they didn’t seem to understand how to take anyone’s money.
It’s not only large companies that have this difficulty. Startups usually suffer from this malady (with a few rare exceptions), altogether forgetting that the reason they exist is to (one day, at least) make money.
The solution for companies struggling with their sales cycle is really quite simple.
Make something great – and then make it ridiculously easy for customers to buy and begin loving your product or service, immediately, if not sooner.