I want to share a secret with you.

Before I purchase anything over $200, I do one thing:

I contact the company via one of their social media accounts and ask if there are any coupon codes available.

It’s not because I want a good deal (although that part is always nice.) Hey, I’ll work with a company even if they tell me no.

It’s because I want to see how (and if) the company responds to my request. 

And yes, I get all judgy about their responses.

If the company doesn’t respond to me, responds in a snarky way, or takes forever to get back to me…I write them off. 

I’d rather spend money with a company that takes the time to engage with me as a possible customer– even if that means spending more money. 

It’s my “thing.”

In fact, I just purchased a product that was $50 more than a similar, competing model. Why? Because the winning company’s customer service department was awesome — and the other company took three days to get back to me.

Stuff like that makes a big difference to me.

Maybe it does to you, too. 

Why do I bring this up?

Because your prospects are judging you every time they interact with your site or your social media accounts.

Think about it:  When it comes time to spend money, people want to be very sure that they’re making the right decision. 

Maybe they’ve been burned before. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll get fired if they hire the wrong vendor (it happens.) Maybe your prospect is working with a very limited budget, and a bad decision can have devastating consequences.

That’s why prospects look at your testimonials. That’s why they read your blog and check your online reviews. That’s why they contact you on social media when they have questions.

They are judging your company’s every move and asking themselves, “Do I feel good about spending money here? Or, should I go somewhere else?”

And, oh, how they judge. 

Sadly, we’re often judged for things that are 100% in our blind spots. We may not realize that we’re sending bad signals…but, to our prospects, our “sins” are deadly to the sale. 

For instance:

Do you forget to check social media or purposely ignore negative comments (even if it’s because you don’t know how to respond?)

Flaking out on social media may make you look careless, uncaring or indifferent…especially when your prospect needs immediate help with a question or a problem.

Are you neck-deep in a project and you haven’t had time to respond to prospect emails? 

Your non-response may send a message that you’re not interested in their business. Or, you’re too flaky to take on more work. After all, would you work with a company that ignored your “I want to work with you” note?

Has it been a long time since you’ve updated your blog?

A prospect may see that as as sign that your company isn’t paying attention to the “little stuff.” Or, wonder if you don’t have enough money to hire a professional writer. Or, wonder if your company is out of touch and behind the times.

I once lost a sale because I hadn’t updated an old “workshop” page. How do I know? Because the prospect sent me an email to let me know. I may have felt her reason was petty, but that’s beside the point.

It still stung, and I still lost the sale.

Granted, there are going to be some prospects that you’ll never please. They won’t like the color of your logo (true story,) or the fact you didn’t get back to them within 10 minutes (another true story.) 

It’s OK to let folks like that go. Chances are, they wouldn’t make good clients.

But, you do want to make sure you don’t lose good sales for stupid reasons.

What’s the upside?

Knowing your prospects are judging you is actually an opportunity. 

How?

This is one of those things you can control.

For instance, some clients ask me to act as a mystery shopper. I subscribe to their emails, check out their social media accounts, and ask customer service some questions. I’ll also audit their content, check out autoresponders, and review older content assets. 

I always find something — no matter how “with it” a client is. 

And, fixing that “something” is a huge opportunity.

You may think that your team can find these bugs and squish them — but, here’s a word of warning.

If this is something you want to try, find someone outside your company to help. That way, someone with fresh eyes can view your content assets and check out your process.

After all, just because your “thanks for signing up” email went through three levels of proofing, it doesn’t mean it’s error-free. It just means that nobody caught the error.

(And yes, if you’re a freelancer, this is a service you can offer your clients.)

After all, if people are going to judge your company, you want them to judge you in happy, positive ways.

Not because you keep spacing out on Twitter and forgetting to respond to DMs.

What do you think?

How do you judge companies you’re thinking about working with? What’s the biggest thing a company can do to give them a hard pass on working together? Leave a comment and let me know!