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by Dr. Robert Sullivan
author of "The Small Business Start-Up Guide"

In these busy times, the customer's choice to purchase may be based on how easy it is to make the purchase rather than price! Here are a ten ideas to make your product or service easy for customers to purchase:  

  1. Accept credit cards for payment. This is mandatory. The majority of small purchases is by credit card. However, be careful in choosing your credit card merchant provider. There are agents that are charging excessive rates and fees. As always, caveat emptor.
  2. Provide a money-back, no-questions asked return policy.
  3. Distribute free catalogs. (... but include a "price" on the cover, say $5.00.) The recipient then feels good about getting your "$5.00" catalog free!
  4. Get an 800 number for sales and service. Ensure the number is well attended. Do it yourself if possible! Again, as with the credit card merchant account warning above, choose your provider with care. It is now very easy and inexpensive to maintain an 800 number. The 800 number may simply "piggy back" on your existing business line, if desired. Very handy.
  5. Provide a strong guarantee for your product or service. If possible, offer "lifetime" guarantees. This is a very strong selling point but statistics show very, very few customers ever take advantage of such a guarantee.
  6. Give away something free (possibly in conjunction with a purchase) from time to time.
  7. If you're in the retail business, maintain store hours in evenings and on weekends.
  8. Provide a delivery service (or service at the customer's location).
  9. Follow up sales to the extent possible. Personal calls for big ticket sales or a returnable post card for higher volume sales can make a lasting impression ... and a return customer!
  10. Have a "preferred customer" sale.

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This article is an excerpt from "The Small Business Start-Up Guide" by Robert Sullivan, which is available from the publisher, Information International, Box 579, Great Falls, VA 22066, at $16.95 plus $3.50s/h. 800 375 8439. Visit "The Small Business Advisor" at

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