“Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise.”
– Author Unknown

Many customers hesitate to buy because they fear that they might make the wrong decision and regret it later. This fear dominates the purchase decision and may kill the selling opportunity altogether.

One way to minimize this fear, or even eliminate it altogether, is to offer a guarantee. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Presuming your product or service is good and you have few complaints, a guarantee might help you sell more. For the prospective customer, maybe the guarantee will help minimize the risk of doing business with your firm.

Here is the trick: you probably already have an implicit guarantee. For example, if a customer calls you with a quality problem, don’t you fix it or replace the defective product? Don’t you normally bend over backwards when the unhappy customer calls? Of course you do, because it just makes good business sense to do so.

The point is that most of you already have a guarantee policy and just don’t put it your e-mail promotions or your purchase agreements. Think how powerful it is to tell a prospective customer that you guarantee your work, your product, or your service.

Some consumer product based businesses offer guarantees that are “money back” regardless of the customer issue. This type of guarantee is a branding feature, which helps differentiate the business from the competition. I have found “money back” guarantees to be most successful when used for low-priced consumer products and services.

There also seems less impact and greater financial risk for money back guarantees when selling industrial products or high priced goods. For example, you don’t see money back guarantees on Honda automobiles.

Satisfaction guarantees are often a better alternative for these products; promise to make things right, but you don’t give away the farm in the process. Also, don’t confuse a guarantee with a mere cancellation for convenience. I have seen guarantees backfire when a customer is given unconditional cancellation privileges. This can be particularly injurious to long-term service contracts, when the full contract period is needed to ensure sufficient margin.

Finally, like most new ideas, you should test this guarantee first. Try out the guarantee on a customer or customer group. See what happens. With a successful trial, a customer-wide roll-out will go more smoothly.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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