My local chamber of commerce has a good reputation among businesspeople, and I thought it might be a good idea to join. I’m a terrible networker who gets a little queasy at the thought of actually delivering an elevator pitch, but I do find that sometimes I drift into conversations and find the person I’m talking with can use exactly the services I offer.
Now their Web site is primarily intended to pitch the city to visitors, so I guess I can forgive it for taking me ten minutes to find the information for participating businesses. Hmm, where does it mention costs to join? Nowhere. So membership will cost me $10 or $100 or $1,000, but I don’t know which.
Aha, they actually have some kind of face-to-face meet and greet thing for prospective members. It’s free, as it should be. So I click to register (a full two minutes to find that link, which is on a weirdly remote corner of the page). Give my email. Give my phone number (why do you need that, exactly?). And now it’s asking for a credit card number. Hmm.
There’s a number I can call for questions. I call. Voicemail. No call back.
There’s a number I can fax. I fax. No response.
Eventually I do manage to get through to a teenaged-sounding person who giggles that, uh, yeah they got my fax but it sort of got put on the wrong desk. But everything is cool now, and I can show up.
Well thank goodness.
It doesn’t get much better from there—a presentation that blended prospects with new members, but without leveraging that in any useful way. Salespeople who were hard to chase down (and then annoyed me with irrelevant follow up a month later, presumably when they needed to make quota). This wasn’t a path to purchase, it was a gauntlet.
Guess what. I found a way to live without their product.
What are you communicating with your Web site, your customer service, your policies? Do prospective customers have to make a nuisance of themselves to get a quote, or to find out more how you can help them?
Declare war on anything that creates a barrier for your customers. Make sure your prospects know how you can help and how much it costs. We live in the information age—give out the damned information, already.
As an aside, don’t kid yourself that you can get away with hiding your pricing because your crack sales team is going to turn simple price inquiries into closed sales. Two-thirds of your prospects will simply go to another business that isn’t so cagey. The other one-third hate salespeople.