Ask The Expert featuring Adrian Ulsh
Q. Hi Adrian, one of my coaching clients was asking for guidance on risk reversal. She believes she could double her sales with a compelling risk reversal offer. Can you provide some guidance on this for me?
Any business owner will close more sales by eliminating the perception of risk their prospects may feel when they buy what they sell.
The concept of Risk Reversal is simple – but it requires some boldness and guts. Basically, it means that you, the business owner looking to close a sale… should identify the various reasons a potential customer would hesitate to buy. You then think of little things you can do to overcome those reasons.
Risk Reversal is like a guarantee – but much more powerful. It’s a guarantee on steroids. It’s a guarantee that a buyer can’t turn away from because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Let’s look at the Basic Guarantee that 90% of online and offline merchants usually have. Let’s label this Level 1 on the Scale of Guarantees.
Level 1 is called the Standard Guarantee
A standard guarantee offers buyers a 30 day period to return the product for a full refund. This type of guarantee is required by law in many countries such as the US. This guarantee is mediocre… and more than likely all of your competitors probably offer it as well. Truly successful businesses always go far beyond a Level 1 guarantee.
A Level 2 Guarantee is known as The Extended Time Period Guarantee.
This guarantee will extend the 30-day guarantee to 90 or more days. Many sellers swear by the 90 day guarantee. By giving the customer a full 90 days to try your product you often lower the refund rate.
Let’s say Mary buys a $90 set of aerobics DVDs from your online store with a 30-day guarantee. It takes 10 days to reach her. Mary now has to test the DVDs in the next 20 days to see if she likes them. But she finds herself too busy. All of a sudden she only has 2 days left to return the product for a full refund if she discovers she’s not satisfied. It’s still sitting on her shelf untouched… so feeling the pressure… she returns it unopened.
But if Mary had been given more time to try out the product, there’s a good chance she would not have felt pressured… and may have taken more time to test, play and fall in love with the product. If you’re selling products online, you can often create significant increases in sales and lower your refund rate just by extending your guarantee to 90 days.
But Level 2 is nowhere close to what a guarantee can do. Let’s step into the Zone of Risk Reversal. Several years ago, a guy by the name of Nick got frustrated because he could never find the right kinds of shoes he liked at the local mall. Nick went home that day and went online… hoping to browse through online shoe stores… but there were few of them set up at that time.
Nick wondered if he could establish his own online shoe store. The idea kept jumping around in his head and eventually he quit his day job and founded Zappos.com.
At first, people told him he was crazy. Shoes are something you need to hold in your hand before buying. You need to try them on. Customers want to feel the leather. They want their spouse to see them on you and let you know what they think. There was a multitude of reasons to not buy shoes online.
Yet Zappos thrived. By 2005, the then 6-year-old company did $370 million in shoe sales… and in July 2009, the company announced it would be acquired by Amazon.com in an all-stock deal worth about $1.2 billion. How? Well, let’s explore what it is that gets most people hooked on Zappos. Sure, Zappos had a wider variety than a traditional shoe store.
But it was Zappos Risk Reversal policy that really converts most prospects into loyal customers. Here’s the decision making process prospects go through before buying their first pair of Kenneth Coles on Zappos.
What if I don’t like that shade of brown? Can I return it? Zappos’ answer was yes. If I try it on and find it won’t fit – can I return it and get another pair? Their answer: yes. Will you pay for the shipping – and the cost of return shipping? Their answer was again: yes!
If I buy it and then randomly change my mind – can I still send it back and get my dough back. Again – the answer was yes. If I buy it and then find one for a cheaper price on Canal Street, can I send it back? Again – yes.
They had an answer for every single doubt their prospects had. They were prepared to lose a few bucks on return shipping because they were smart enough to understand that once their prospects bought the shoes – they would probably really like them and want to keep them. They knew their prices were good and they knew that once they got them hooked, they would be willing to tell their friends about them.
They were willing to bend over backward to give their prospects the best service possible and eliminate every single doubt from their mind. No physical shoe store I know would place that much trust in a customer.
Zappos had effectively reversed every single doubt prospects could have in their mind. They made it a no-brainer to be their customer. That’s risk reversal. But my point is this… guarantees are fine – but they’ll only get you so far. Risk Reversal, on the other hand, will make you and your coaching clients millions… and help you and them to dominate your market. But we’re not done yet.
Let’s look at guarantees that effectively Reverse the Buyer’s Risk and make it a no-brainer to purchase from you. You see, once you go beyond Level 1 and 2… there are 4 more levels of guarantees that fall in the Risk-Reversal Zone.
For example… a Level 3 Guarantee is called The Try and Then Buy Guarantee
This type of guarantee allows the buyer to pay after they have used the product or service for 30 days. The buyer pays nothing upfront… or perhaps they pay a small token amount like $1 to prove they’re a serious customer. They then know that they will be billed later unless they cancel. This is also known as “Forced Continuity.”
Here’s how this type of guarantee works. You allow the buyer to make a purchase for a mere dollar. They get to play around with the product or try the service for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, unless they cancel, they authorize you to bill them the balance owed. Since the vast majority of customers are satisfied with their purchases, this saves the business owner the time, effort and hassle of chasing down the prospect after the trial period to collect their payment information.
Level 4 Guarantee is called Guaranteed Results or a Full Refund.
In essence, you guarantee a certain result, perhaps that you’ll lose 10 pounds in 21 days… and allow the customer to claim a full refund if this goal isn’t met. This guarantee is not only fair to the customer… it helps close sales because you’re painting a positive picture in the customer’s mind of what your product can do for them. You can make this guarantee even stronger by calling it the “Pay only if it works guarantee.”
Next is a Level 5 Guarantee known as the Customer Always Wins Guarantee
This is where the customer can return the main product for a full refund but can still keep the accompanying bonus gifts. Let’s say you sell energy-efficient lighting. As a bonus on sales over $50, you offer the customer a free energy-efficient bulb worth $15. Of course, the bulb would have cost you only $5 wholesale, but the perceived value to the customer is $15.
You allow the customer to return the lighting within 60 days if they aren’t satisfied with their purchase. But they can still keep the bulb as a thank you for trying out your store. So the customer wins either way. That’s very reassuring to them… and they see they will at least receive something for their time. And that’s something to very much keep in mind these days. Most prospects value their time as much or more than their money, especially on sales below $50.
Now some business owners worry that someone might take advantage of their generosity when using this guarantee. Well, they’re right… someone could. But you’ll find that very, very few actually do. Most people are fundamentally good. When using this type of guarantee you’ll find that less than one half of one percent of buyers attempt to take advantage of this situation.
And so what if you lose $5 a few times due to a few unethical buyers? The increase in sales you get will more than make up for this. This guarantee and risk reversal policy works well because of the psychological image it sets up in the buyer’s mind. Simply put… the buyer can’t possibly lose. Even if they make the purchase and then have to return the light fixtures, they still end up with a free bulb. So to them, they always win! That’s powerful risk reversal at work.
However, the key here is to always test your guarantee before you make it policy. Test it for 30 days and track your returns to see if this policy will be abused. Then make your final decision whether to implement it or not. I think you’ll find the additional sales this type of guarantee attracts more than offsets the returns. A Level 5 Guarantee like we just discussed is where many of the best businesses stop.
But there is one more level you should consider.
That level is known as a Level 6 Guarantee… The Platinum Guarantee
This is where you offer the customer a double your money back guarantee. Obviously, this requires some boldness on your part… plus you better know for a fact that you do indeed have an excellent product. If you do… this guarantee can be market-dominating. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you have a proven and tested process you want to sell to other businesses. You decide to write a book that outlines your powerful process step-by-step. You then advertise the following guarantee…
If you implement the process outlined in this book and you haven’t at least doubled your current profits… we will not only issue you a full refund… but we’ll pay you twice your original investment. We’ll pay you back double the cost of the book. That’s $250. It’s the least we can do to thank you for placing your trust in our business.
Now that’s a market-dominating guarantee. But in this next example, I’m going to personally reveal the Risk Reversal email that one business used to create a 50% overnight boost in sales for their book.
As you read this script I want you to notice how they answer the customer’s concerns regarding time… ease of use… and depth of knowledge. So here’s the risk reversal email that skyrocketed their conversion rate by 50%.
An Important Note – If You’re Still Undecided
If you own a website and you’re looking to grow your business but still haven’t ordered, you’re probably hesitating for one of the following reasons.
Check the Response that Best Applies to You.
You’ve bought many books in the past but now they just sit on your shelf gathering dust. You just don’t have the time right now.
Our course is designed to inspire you to take action. It’s broken down into easy, sequential steps with clear directions. We guarantee that every chapter will make you want to jump up, implement a tactic and grow your business.
So here’s what we’ll do… If the reason above applies to you – we’ll allow you to purchase the book for $1 USD. The balance of $249 will not be charged for 30 days.
Order the ENTIRE course for $1 and read the first few tactics. If you feel we’re not living up to our promise, simply drop us an email at… and then list your email here. We’ll not only cancel your billing but we’ll refund your dollar as well.
We know for a fact that this book will not only inspire you – it will compel you to act, to take action… and to help you grow your business. Before you ever pay us more than a buck, you’ll be looking at your business from an entirely different perspective.
You’re new to this field and you’re afraid that buying such a comprehensive course using advanced tactics will engulf you with too much information and you may get lost.
Our course is designed to be easy to apply to any business. Knowledge on its own is worthless. Applying that knowledge is the key to growing your business successfully. So here’s our promise. If at any point you get ‘stuck’ or have questions on how to further grow your business – we’ll schedule a one-on-one call with you to offer individual help.
I will personally get on the phone with you and guide you step-by-step through any hurdles or difficulties you may have. In fact, you can request this help anytime by emailing me at… and then your email goes here.
Price is not the issue – time is the issue. You’re busy… and you want access to the exact strategies and tactics that will produce a big upturn in your business. Are the tactics in this course really powerful enough?
Yes… they are. And we’re willing to back that up with the following no-risk guarantee. You can return the course to us ANYTIME within 90 days for a full, No-Questions-Asked Money Back Guarantee. But your concern is really more about time than money.
So let’s also do this. We’re confident that the tactics and strategies we outline in this book will make a huge positive influence on the number of sales, leads, and revenue coming into your business. So confident in the fact that we’ll put our money where our mouth is.
If you implement just 5 of the tactics from this book and you haven’t seen a minimum boost in revenue of at least 50%… we will not only issue you a full refund… we will issue you DOUBLE your money back.
Yes, we’ll pay you double the cost of the book. That’s $500. Just show us the 5 tactics you implemented on your site. The money we’ll pay you will be more than worth it because it will help us refine our tactics further. We’d be happy to pay you double your money back just to get that information.
That’s it – this script created an overnight boost in sales of 50%. But consider what’s really taking place here. A risk reversal like this one incentivizes the prospect to buy. It makes the prospect literally say to themselves that I would be an absolute fool if I didn’t buy.
But then consider the mother of all risk reversals that have ever existed. Several years ago when both the economy and the auto industry were in the tank, car sales were hitting record lows. GM was really hurting, especially in the wake of the government bailout they received. Prospective car buyers were worried about the economy tanking further, and they were especially concerned with their own jobs.
GM execs sat down and analyzed the mindset of these prospective buyers. They realized the risk a car buyer would be taking by purchasing a new car and then potentially losing their job down the road. So GM adopted the following risk reversal policy… buy a new GM car or truck and if you are laid off from your job for any reason, we will make your car payments for you for one year.
Now you have to admit… that is the mother of all risk reversals… wouldn’t you agree?
The real key here is to discover the biggest fears, problems, frustrations or concerns your prospects have when it comes to buying what you sell. What is it that may be stopping them from buying your product or service?
Then develop a risk reversal strategy that completely eliminates whatever that is… and you will see your sales soar.
About Adrian Ulsh
Adrian Ulsh is the CEO for Leader Publishing Worldwide, the largest online provider of coaching services worldwide. Adrian currently works with more than 500 coaches in 24 countries advising them on building 6 and 7 figure coaching practices.
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