May 8th, 2018 Business

When someone’s hesitating to buy your course, how can you help them commit?

Sometimes, everything in your marketing seems to align: you’re attracting a lot of visitors to your site, people seem interested in your course, but you can’t seem to land a sale.

Or maybe you just have a lot of buyers on the fence: they’re 90% of the way toward making a purchase, their fingers are hovering over the “purchase” button, but something keeps holding them back.

As an online educator, this situation can be very frustrating. You’re so close to bringing in a new learner, but getting them past the final hurdle can be your greatest challenge.

You’re not alone. Impulse purchases are only common in certain situations (buying a candy bar, for instance). In most industries, buyers hesitate more before making their final purchase, and the higher the stakes the more the hesitation.

This may seem like bad news for your course, but it’s actually a chance for you to refine your sales strategy and learn more about your customers. If you feel like your sales cycle keeps sticking in the final phase, here are four ways to identify and overcome the buyer hesitations that are keeping you back.

1. Make sure you understand what your learner needs.

In any tricky sales situation, it’s always a good situation to take a step back and make sure you understand what your learners are looking for. Maybe your course isn’t thorough enough or doesn’t cover enough topics. Or maybe it’s too long and your learners are more interested in something shorter. Or your learners might need some form of professional certification which you don’t offer. Find out if your course is missing something, and what you can do to fix it.

Once you understand this, take a look at how you’re presenting your course. If you’ve created a course on business leadership, are you speaking to CEOs or floor managers? Both these groups may want to learn about professional leadership, but their needs and applications will be totally different. Look for any ways you might be misrepresenting your course or speaking to the wrong group of people. It doesn’t matter how many visitors you can attract to your page if they’re not the right fit.

2. Identify the deal breaker.

Once you’ve worked out your target audience and your messaging, it’s time to find out what specific thing is keeping a learner from making a purchase. Is it the price point? The course length? The payment model? The delivery format? If you can discover a specific thing that’s turning visitors away, that gives you a chance to address it directly.

Once you’ve identified the deal break, the easiest solution is to eliminate it. Your learners don’t like the subscription model? Switch to one-time payments. Your course doesn’t work well on mobile? Make it better.

If you can’t get rid of the deal breaker, you will have to justify it. You don’t have to change your price point, but you should emphasize everything the learner can gain from the course. Or, if you can’t change the length, turn it to your advantage (long = thorough, short = concise). It may still be a deal breaker for some visitors, but others might accept your explanation and make a purchase.

3. Anticipate their questions.

Information is your friend. Hesitant buyers often have a series of questions that underlie their reluctance to purchase. If you can preempt these by answering them on your site, it’s a signal to your visitors that you understand what they’re looking for—and that you can help.

You probably won’t launch with a long set of FAQs, but you can learn about them over time. Pay attention to questions in emails, in the comments on your blog, in feedback from speaking engagements, and even in conversations with friends. If possible, contact a group of your current or former learners and do some customer research. What was their biggest buyer hesitation, and what did you do that overcame it?

Over time, you’ll learn more about your learners and it will become easier to address buyer hesitations directly on your site.

4. Don’t take trust for granted.

Most of us are naturally wary of sales people—and for good reason. We know they have a motive, and because of that, we measure their recommendations with a grain of salt. And yet we also forget that as soon as we’re the ones selling. We’re not sales people, after all, we’ve just made this really great course that we want them to buy!

Nope. Your visitors know you’re selling, and that’s going to mean they won’t take your word at face value. You can tell them your course is great, but they’re not going to take your word for it.

That means you’re going to have to find other people to speak for you. Other learners are the best. User reviews and testimonials really do help sell your course, so go out of your way to earn them.

Other influencers can also help you build credibility. If you know another professional in your field who would let you be a guest on their blog or podcast, it not only exposes you to a new audience, but that professional has essentially given you their seal of approval. That’s a significant trust builder in itself.

Don’t waste your energy chasing down the wrong customer.

I once had a conversation with a man who’d invented a new kitchen appliance. When I asked him who is target audience was, he said “everyone.” In his mind, everyone needed his appliance, and that left him feeling frustrated when he couldn’t sell it. He spent far too much time chasing down customers who would never make a purchase when he would have had much more success focusing on a narrower group of leads.

Of course, the same applies to online educators. You may have a brilliant course, but it won’t be for everyone. And even if a wide range of people could benefit from your course, you’ll go a lot farther a lot faster if you focus on the people most ready to buy.

It’s tempting to start viewing all buyer hesitations as conquerable. But it’s better to recognize when a potential learner simply isn’t ready to make a purchase. See if you can get them to sign up for your mailing list, and put that lead on the back burner until they’re ready to sign up. Sometimes, when it comes to buyer hesitations, time will do your work for you.

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