Do You Make it Too Hard for People to Pay You? - Christine Kane

I was standing in line waiting to buy kombucha at Green Life, my city’s beloved organic grocery store.

The guy in front of me had a few small items. His total came to $14.38.

As he pulled out his debit card, the cashier asked, “Would you like to round up to $15 and donate the rest of that money to this month’s charity?”  She shared the name of the local organization where the money would go.

He said yes.

This local charity idea has been going on for years. Each month the grocery store picks a cause and asks for donations at the check out line.

Until this particular day, however, the question posed at check out has always been:

“Would you like to donate anything to our local charity this month?”

The new strategy intrigued me.

So when it was my turn to check out, I asked the cashier how this new question was working for her. She leaned over to me and said, “Ohmigod, last month we raised $900 more than our usual amount!”

Now – regardless of how you feel about the politics of raising money in this way – the lesson here is important to you as a business.

People respond to definite calls to action. They respond to CLARITY.

Let’s look at what happens in the mind of an average person when you ask the first question…

1 – Would you like to donate something to this month’s charity?

This question requires first that you make the decision to do it or not to do it.   That’s a big decision right there.

But then, you also have to decide what amount you want to give. That’s a lot of deciding when you have a long line of people behind you.

I mean, hell, is a dollar is too little? Would that make you stingy?

Or should it be more like $5?  Or does that make you a total pushover who just gives money because you can be guilted into pretty much any cause that’s out there?

And wait just a minute!  Didn’t you say yes the last time you were here? (Hey, when was that anyway?)

Too much thinking and your mind will just give in and say, “Screw it. No.”

When given too many choices, people will default to not taking action. It’s just easier to do nothing than it is to make all those decisions.

Now, let’s look at the second question…

2 – Your total is $14.38.  Would you like to round up to $15 and give your change to our local charity this month?”

The cashier did the math for you.  She didn’t make you wonder whether or not you should feel guilty for only giving 62 cents. She gave you a clear choice. Yes or no.

And as it turns out, the results yield a much bigger take for the charity.

So, what does this have to do with your business?

Well, let’s look at what the typical solo business owner might tell her prospects.

“Hey, just give me a call. You know where to find me.”


“If you know anyone who needs my service, let them know about me, okay?”

This is called a “call to action.”

Many people think that the reason they aren’t getting clients is because they’re charging too much or because their industry is too tough.

But one reason people aren’t calling you is that your call to action stinks!  It doesn’t give clear direction. It doesn’t tell people exactly what to do, or when to do it.  It just sits out there assuming that if people want to work with you…they know what to do.

Well, they might know what to do.

But they’ve got a lot of other things on their mind. And it’s just way too easy not to do anything.

And if you know that your product or service is a high level for people and will change their lives, essentially what you’re doing is letting them give up on themselves.  That’s not only bad business – but it’s bad service.

Do NOT go on sale.

Instead, get clear. Communicate clearly.  And you’ll get results.

Not sure how to do this?  Join me in my 2013 Uplevel Your Business Program. (We start on April 1. And doors close this Friday at 4pm EST.)

Hey, and leave a comment and tell me how YOU can be more clear in your calls to action!

  • Melissa

    I really struggle with calls to action. As a psychotherapist, a lot of my limiting beliefs disguise themselves as “ethical issues.” This post reminds me that my highest goal is to serve my clients and potential clients. If they don’t know the next step, they can’t access my services easily.

  • Jackie

    Brilliant way of making it easy for people to donate. Only you would have noticed the difference in the was donations were being asked for.

  • Tina

    Thank you Christine, I’ve just gone and tweaked my weekly e-newsletter. Much love xxx

  • Milsma

    Love this approach to charity and your absolutely right about it being a call to action without the crippling decision making. I like to DO, to get involved, to make a difference. I just don’t want it to be terribly complicated. When I follow a news story touting one injustice or other, I want a detailed plan and direct link to what I can do. Otherwise the research I have to do on my own just fizzles out. Ok, I’m lazy that way but life is crazy, if you want my help (or my business) make it easy for me!

  • Clara

    Had a similar experience at Whole Foods last week, where I was asked if I wanted to round up the difference and donate to their current charity. And, you’re right, it was easy to answer, “Yes.” And I remember being aware that it was easy, being saved that overthinking of yes/no, how much, and having to do it all in a few seconds. Your pointing out the distinctions between the two approaches makes the reason why so clear!

  • CoachDonnaStott

    Great article. It’s about “clearing the path” as the Heath brothers wrote in their book “Switch, How to Change when Change is hard”. Great book.

  • Cena

    This is so great for me right now. Just working on my membership program and more than anything else, I want it to be clear and easy-peasy… I think I’m finally getting there! thanks for the reminder that it’s worth the investment in the back-end systems to make it so!

  • Alexandre L’Eveille

    I love the advice. It’s all in the “ask.” I have an on-going debate with myself every time I put out a proposal. I did make packages so it should be a no-brainer. Yes, I always think, “Is this too much for the client and am tempted to offer less than my package. In my mind, I’m thinking “is this in your budget?” when I need to be thinking, “are you ready to commit to building your brand?” I put on my big girl panties last week and instead of trying to figure out how to give the right price for what the client asked for (which wasn’t really what he needed), I put together the right package and sent it off. If he’s not committed, he’s not my client. The universe is clearing space for the right one. My mind needs to focus on asking that right question.

  • Opalima

    Wow Christine I just had an aha moment! I’ll be using your advice at an upcoming conference. Thanks for the “clarity”.

  • Suzie Cheel

    Love the charity story Christine and the message behind it. Great oints you have raised and one I need to address- thanks for the inspiration