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Business Philosophy

Fact or Friction: Why Making Your Buying Process More Difficult Could Pay Off

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Why Making Your Buying Process More Difficult Could Pay Off

Can friction be a good thing in the marketing and sales process?

Over the last two decades, since the advent of digital marketing and sales, businesses have worked diligently to reduce or remove friction from the buying process. This includes doing things like making ads clear and concise; enhancing calls-to-action; streamlining websites; limiting the number of product and service pages; and incorporating systems that make checkouts, setting appointments, asking questions, and becoming a contact fast and easy.

However, many products and services are complex, especially those related to tech and healthcare. Even simple-seeming transactions like buying bed sheets can come with a myriad of options, including color, pattern, fabric, size, and more.

The options you offer can differentiate your solution and make it more valuable to a prospective buyer—and likely make a sale more profitable for your business.

The issue: How can you introduce options—and the related complexity and confusion—to your marketing and sales process without frustrating and turning off buyers?

Consider introducing friction that slows down—or pauses—the buyer’s journey and provides value that enhances the overall customer experience.

This article explains proven ways to slow down your buying process to improve it.

Use Data to Tailor the Buying Experience and Make It More Relevant

One common mistake many small businesses make is that they focus on data associated with the who (name, email, phone number) and ignore data related to the consumer’s why or what (ad messaging, content read, journey through website, products and services checked out).

Forcing the customer through more steps in the buying process allows you to collect more why and what data. Consider adding a quiz or other activity. Leverage the data collected to serve up more appealing suggested solutions or to highlight the right features that will prompt the prospective customer to pause and select the perfect solution for them. It may take a little longer to complete a purchase, but the added value you deliver in the end will make it likely you’ll close more sales.

Create Prepackaged Solution Bundles

Many businesses focus on the comprehensiveness of their solutions. It’s natural because they added features and options to make them more attractive to a broader market.

However, it can overwhelm consumers only interested in one or two of those features or options. It could make the solution seem too expensive or complex to use. Overwhelmed buyers are more likely to check out a competitor rather than try to bend your complicated offering to their more straightforward needs.

Presenting buyers with prepackaged options may slow down the sales process because they will need to consider them. However, this slowdown could save your sale by showing prospective customers options that could be ideal for them.

Delay Post-Sale Delivery

For most product and service solutions, there is typically a time after a customer agrees to purchase and when they receive or experience the final deliverable. It may take time to pack and ship something or meet with a new client.

Most businesses are so happy to get a sale, they race through this part of the buying process to fulfill the deal.

In many cases, this could be a mistake.

The post-sale period presents an opportunity for businesses to slow things down to cross-sell, upsell, and enhance the customer’s impression of their purchase.

Instead of automatically fulfilling the sale, add a step to the process by sending a confirmation email. It can include opportunities to purchase a superior solution at a discounted price. Or you can offer additional products and services related to the original purchase. If you can’t upsell or cross-sell, send an email reinforcing the value of what the person just purchased. A simple congratulatory message will help the buyer feel better—and more confident—about what they bought and prevent buyer’s remorse. It can help reduce the number of cancellations and returns.

Adding Friction to Your Marketing and Sales Process: The Bottom Line

You shouldn’t streamline the buyer’s journey or make it so efficient that you lose potential sales, miss out on up- and cross-sell opportunities, or harm the customer experience.


  • Sometimes your customers don’t know exactly what they want.

  • Or they might not value your complete solution.

  • Or they could be willing to buy more than they think.

  • Or they may have doubts about their purchase.

  • Or you and your competitors might have similar offerings.

You can address all these issues by slowing the buying process to make it easier for prospective customers to identify the solutions that are right for them and feel good about their purchase.

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