How to remove unnecessary friction from your sales conversion process


One of the most brilliant aspects of Amazon’s Alexa technology is the ease with which it allows us to make purchases.

Need more coffee? Just speak up, and it’s on its way. Synced with Prime, Alexa may represent the single most frictionless sales conversion experience to ever exist.

The rest of us can only stew in jealousy over Bezos and company, because no matter what we’re selling and no matter how we’re selling it, there are going to be friction points. A certain percentage of our sales prospects are going to think twice, or get frustrated, and they’re going to drop out of the sales funnel.

Sales friction, those pesky factors that deter people from completing their purchases, has a major influence on conversion rates for all business models, from B2B to ecommerce to offline retail. According to Aberdeen, 92% of organizations have below-average sales conversion rates simply because of some kind of friction in the customer journey funnel.

Imagine a customer visits a retailer’s landing page, excited to shop for a new jacket, but becomes annoyed by the retailer’s popup box asking her to subscribe to the shop’s email list. In some B2B situations, a prospective client might feel that the landing page is too long, and stop scrolling halfway through. Or perhaps a shopper has loaded up his cart at a local grocery store but ultimately leaves it and goes home empty-handed once he realizes how long the checkout queue is.

These instances of sales conversion friction plague even the most savvy businesses. And there are plenty of tech solutions out there to help you win back sales from abandoners. But a lot of friction is avoidable from the get-go if you optimize your purchase experience with the following principles in mind.

Make Sure The Experience Sparkles With Trustworthiness

Lack of trust is one of the most deadly types of sales friction. According to a recent study by HubSpot Research, only 3% of us trust salespeople. Thanks to “snake oil” salesman techniques that have taken advantage of customers in the past, businesses now have to work twice as hard to earn their prospects’ trust.

How can you change the narrative in a world where consumers are more likely to trust a lawyer or a barista than a salesperson? The answer comes down to authenticity and transparency. If your customers don’t believe that your message is genuine, your trust will fall down the drain. One of the most effective ways is by including educational content on your site that will help answer customers’ questions and attest to your expertise. Creating a knowledge base is a great way to make sure your customers have easy access to the information they’ll need every step of the way. By telling clients’ truthful stories in testimonials and success plugs, you can tie content to a positive customer experience.

Streamline the Mobile Checkout Process

Depending on what kind of product you’ve got and how your audience finds you, optimizing your checkout experience for mobile may or may not be a major game-changer. Today, in most situations, people use their smartphones to learn about products and seal the deal later, from their desktops. But that’s changing quickly.

An unacceptable contributor to sales friction is how difficult the final purchasing step is on many websites. Thankfully, companies like BigCommerce have made it their mission to optimize the mobile checkout process and reduce frustration. Data points to the growth of global ecommerce reaching $4.058 trillion in annual revenues within the next two years. That’s without B2B ecommerce, mind you, which many estimate to be an even larger market force. And 75% of consumers will already abandon their purchass if a site isn’t easy to use on mobile.

BigCommerce has rolled out a solution to the mobile buying conundrum with their Buy Button, which enables consumers to purchase products straight from newsletters, social media posts, and just about anywhere else you can think to embed them.

This type of solution can work well if you’re selling products and services with higher price ranges via email drips that nurture relationships with leads to the point of sales readiness. Otherwise, given the in-the-moment aspect of the mobile user experience, the Buy Button is best used for impulse purchases.

Provide Superior Customer Support

Forrester estimates that nearly two-thirds of US online shoppers are unlikely to return to a website if their customer experience fails to meet expectations, and nearly half abandon their baskets if they can’t find a quick answer to their questions online.

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Many companies are finding that chatbots are the answer to speedy, efficient, accurate and scalable customer service interactions, and though it may seem high, Gartner predicts that 85% of customer service interactions will be handled by chatbots by 2020. Today’s customers are going straight to social media seeking quick, easy customer service, and the brands that reply vigilantly and helpfully to these often publicly visible queries can score big wins. Automation can help a great deal in this regard.

For those not sold on chatbots yet, maintaining active Twitter or Facebook Messenger channels with human representatives is critical. Either way, you can ease the path to purchase by positioning your brand as one that’s available, attentive, candid and helpful.

Let the Customer in on Their Savings

When consumers visit many online stores, the first thing they see is a popup with a lead capture CTA accompanied by the promise of a discount. Sign up for the newsletter and get $20 or 20% off of your next order. For shoppers on the fence about making a purchase, these offers can make the deal.

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Depending on your audience, however, this kind of interruption might be a bad idea. If someone isn’t interested in necessarily purchasing right away, then you’ll only turn him off with aggressive discount offers. In cased like these, though, you can still alleviate friction by displaying discounts in the checkout process, reminding your customer of the extra value he’ll unlock by completing the purchase. This type of visual reminder can work well in B2B situations as well.

Map Out a Transparent Process

Some 28% of abandoned purchases can be attributed to over-complex checkout processes, according to Baynard Institute’s research. As discussed above, minimizing the number of steps involved with buying can help a great deal, but it’s also about managing expectations.

People feel less confused, and are therefore less likely to abandon their purchase flows, when they feel like they’re in control. By displaying a dynamic progress bar, with labeled nodes along the way, you can circumvent a lot of conversion process unease and increase sales.

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It might seem like signposting overkill, but there’s a big difference between clicking that “Confirm” button when you know you’ll have a chance to review all of the details later and when you don’t. Likewise, it’s a lot easier to deal with six order detail screens when you know that they’re coming.

Offer a Variety of Payment Options

The rise of mobile spending has given way to mobile wallets like Apple Pay and PayPal One Touch. One-click solutions are crucial when it comes to making the sale, as people will abandon a purchase if they don’t know their credit card information off the top of their head. Below, UK brand Sour Cherry offers PayPal One Touch to ease in the completion of a shopper’s purchase.

Ease of checkout is hardly the only criterion to pay attention to when choosing a payment processor, though. It doesn’t matter how quickly PayPal One Touch-powered transactions can be executed if your prospect doesn’t have a PayPal account. With the popularity of cross-border ecommerce growing, merchants need to know which payment processor options to offer to which audience members.

Simplicity and Transparency are the Antidotes to Sales Friction

For customers to successfully complete a purchase, payment needs to be as easy as possible. Buy Buttons and enabling PayPal One Touch are excellent ways to ensure this, especially on mobile. Saving money is a big plus, so keep your consumers thinking about how much you’re helping them save. And if you want to keep customers hooked, don’t ask them to create an account. (If you must, make sure they can do so seamlessly with social login.) And of course, make sure your customer experience emits trust signals every step of the way.