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A recent coaching session touched upon the growing trend that some marketers have adopted to squeeze out sales from exiting traffic.

In other words, you visit a website and read the salesletter. You decide it’s not for you, so you leave. But when you try leave (either as you close your browser or simply hover your mouse outside of it), the website attempts to make a last-ditch offer.

The common practice is to offer a discount, and a recent trend is to make it through virtual sales assistant just before the prospect clicks away from the screen.

(Virtual assistant or not, it is no different than a one-time offer appearing in an exit pop-up or spawned browser window once the visitor leaves.)

Not only is the practice annoying, it can be detrimental to your sales efforts.

Specifically, straight discounting as an exit offer is a losing strategy that can have a negative impact on your business.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “perception is everything”. This is certainly the case in this scenario. You reduce your perceived value in the marketplace when you utilize this sort of tactic.

You may get a few sales, but they certainly won’t be from the customers most likely to lead to business growth.

First, there is the perception of dishonesty.

No matter how new your prospects are to your business, they will make the connection and realize that if they had clicked on the buy button they would’ve paid a higher price.

Look at it from the perspective of a buyer: for example, you visit a car dealership and the salesperson makes an offer. You decline and start to walk away. Then just as you’re about to leave the salesperson cuts the price.

Your customers will feel ripped off, even though you haven’t technically done so. (At the very least, you will give the impression that you’re desperate.)

That’s certainly not an impression you want to cultivate.

When this happens, there are five sticking points:

  1. Since you give no “reasons why” to making the last-ditch discount, customers will think to themselves, “If they cut the price just because I’m leaving, then why didn’t they do it earlier?”
  2. If you drop the price so readily and so easily, they might also think, “What else am I missing? What are they hiding? How much more can they really discount?”
  3. Price may not be the issue. (In fact, it never really is. It has more to do with the lack of value, and that’s only if the visitor is targeted for your offer in the first place.) It may be another objection or a bottleneck in the ordering process.
  4. Your customers will automatically assume everything is overpriced and therefore they won’t believe anything else you say (or any other offer you make in the future). While it may appear as a “good deal,” they will feel a certain hostility or resentment toward your business — if just unconsciously.
  5. If they do go ahead and feel good about their purchase, you have just educated your customers to never buy at regular prices. Your chances of selling anything else in the future has considerably diminished.

The last one is important, so let’s take a closer look.

A particularly risky aspect of a discount offer like this is the quality of the customer you’ll be attracting. Those who do sign on with the last-ditch effort are more likely to be bargain hunters.

They won’t be the qualified candidates you need for your backend sales efforts to be effective. Instead, you will be more likely attracting problem clients — those that demand refunds, require more support, and who will try to get a discount on everything else you offer.

There are better ways to develop an exit offer that will likely be more consistent with your business goals.

It’s not that the idea of an exit offer itself is flawed, it’s the way it’s most commonly done that causes the problem.

One way to retain the integrity of an offer is to use the exit offer to make an alternate offer or, even better, a downsell. Instead of offering the same product with a lower price tag, present a similar product with fewer bells and whistles.

By presenting a lesser package at a lesser price, you maintain the perceived value of the original offer while presenting your company as sensitive to the needs of those with lower budgets.

With this method you are not discounting, but offering them choices.

If you are set on offering a discount on the original product, there are still ways to save yourself the agony of a mismatched customer base.

The key to doing this is to offer a trade-off in exchange for the discount rather than offering the discount just because they tried to exit without buying.

For example, you can ask them to refer other people to your product in return for a discount. You could have them complete a survey or participate in a case study. You can even ask them to add another product to their order (or more of the same) and apply a bulk discount instead.

The possibilities are endless, but the point of them all is to require action in return for the discount.

Either of these methods represents a better option than the discount exit offer.

Instead of potentially offending prospective buyers, you are offering them choice and opportunity. These will be much better perceived and will elevate your original offer rather than devaluing it.

Michel Fortin

Chief Experience Officer at Workaholics4Hire.com, Inc.
A copywriter and consultant for close to 30 years, Michel was instrumental in selling millions worth of products and services. His most notable success is a salesletter that sold over a million dollars online on launch day. Today, Michel is a best-selling author, in-demand public speaker, and highly sought-after marketing consultant. Get his free report, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," at Workaholics4Hire.com.

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