Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant

Why a Call to Buy on a Website is a Bad Idea

Do you like being told to buy straightaway?
Imagine being in a shoe shop. You need to pick up some running shoes, but there are so many styles and brands. Where do you begin? Before you can even sit down to try anything on, the salesperson approaches you.

He has a pair in hand and immediately asks you if you’d like to purchase them.

If his pitch was focused on the price straightaway, would you be tempted to buy? Chances are, you would only be interested if it was an extremely cheap price. Otherwise, you’d want to try the shoes on. You’d want to see if they suited you. You’d want to see how they fit.

Asking for business too soon could lose the sale.
It’s exactly the same with print. Many websites for printing companies focus on persuading the prospect to ask for a quote. But this is a strategy that can get you the wrong sort of client.

Here are three reasons why this approach is misguided.

1. Prospects are not ready to buy
When a prospect is visiting your website, they are rarely at a point when they are ready to commit to a purchase. The visit to the website is part of the research they are carrying out into potential vendors. At this point, they are interested in what you may be able to do for them.

However, they are also likely to be visiting the websites of your competitors. Your website has one purpose at this point in the purchasing process. It needs to start to make the prospect understand why they should choose you rather than someone else. A call to buy may actually be damaging for you at this point. Here’s why.

2. You commoditise your services.
Asking a prospect to contact you for a price too early in the process encourages them to think only about price. They will not have had a chance to become engaged with your company. They will not understand why they should choose you rather than the competition. So their purchasing decision revolves purely around price.

At the same time, you are missing the chance to make the most effective sale.

3. You miss an opportunity to up-sell.
Many print provider company websites ask customers to send in a specification for a quote. However, this limits you to quoting what the prospect asks for. If you can speak to the prospect first, you have an opportunity to guide them on the most effective product or service that they require. This means you may have the opportunity to sell them a solution at a higher price or a better profit margin.

So now you understand why a call to purchase is not a great message on a website.

But what is the alternative?
If they do not know you, asking people to buy rarely gets a good response. If your website is full of information that is interesting to your prospect, you can get a very different response.

If you can make the prospect interested, there is a much greater likelihood that they will bookmark your website or, better yet, sign up to your newsletter. If you can get them to sign up to a list, you have a fantastic selling opportunity.

However, plant lists and technical information are unlikely to interest your prospect. So what is the right information to put on your website? That’s what we’re going to look at in the next article.

In the meantime, here are three action points for you:

  1. Make sure you read my next article. It is due to be published in the coming weeks
  2. Review your website and banish any messages telling people to buy or to request a quote
  3. Plan sometime in your diary for after the next article. You may wish to spend some time reviewing your website strategy

Think about the lesson from the shoe shop. It’s important to put yourself in the prospect’s shoes.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on getting the most out of your website:


Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here