According to some industry surveys, companies sell as much as 50% of all new products and services to first time buyers. That’s powerful information that you should take advantage of to help grow your business. Here’s what a typical purchase process might look like and what you should do to increase your sales.

Step 1 – Referrals – Many first time buyers don’t know a lot about the products and services you offer so they do what most people do? They ask friends what they know and like and who they’d recommend.

Over 40% of the small business owners who participated in a recent Internet poll revealed that referrals brought them the biggest returns over traditional marketing methods. Why? Because a referred prospect comes to you pre-disposed to buy your products or services.

You need to have a referral-marketing system in place. A good referral marketing system should leverage all your other sales and marketing efforts and be capable of producing quality results over a long period of time. My method of choice is postcards because they can be personalized, are simple to use and very inexpensive.

Step 2 – Research – Prospective buyers then they go on the Internet to do research on features, prices, warranty, maintenance, etc. The Internet helps educate them so that they can start calling or visiting your business.

Your Website – In the initial stages of the buying process, buyers are looking for unbiased information. You can provide this information on-line in exchange for the prospect’s name and e-mail address or use it as a tool to get them to come to your business. If you sell motorcycles for example, a Special Report such as “7 Motorcycle Buying Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” can be very effective. These types of reports will immediately attract the attention of first time buyers.

But if you really want to appeal to first time buyers, you must specifically appeal to them in your ads. How? Home Depot uses FREE seminars and workshops. Walk into any Home Depot on a Saturday morning and you’ll see seminars being given on such things as; how to put up a ceiling fan or how to install a closet organizer.

So Home Depot shows “prospects” how easy a project can be, what tools to buy and how much material they will need. And guess what? Store traffic increases and sales go up! Their tag line says it all…you can do it, we can help.

Step 3- Store or Office Visit – Establishing a good relationship with a prospective client on their first visit is paramount.

What do prospects see when they first walk in to your store or office? How are they greeted? How long do they have to wait? How many phone calls do you answer while they are there? Do you offer them coffee or a soft drink? And remember, sometimes it’s how you answer a prospects question rather the answer itself.

The saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is especially true during the “courting stage” of a first time meeting. Sometimes people remember less about that you said, and more about the way you made them feel.

With a few simple changes to your website, ads and first time meetings you will be able to increase the number of first time buyers you close.