The ABCs of GTC and POA

You step up to the counter of your favorite store. The cashier smiles at you warmly and asks politely, “Will that be cash or charge today?”

In sales parlance that’s called an alternate-choice close. Whichever alternative you choose, you complete the purchase, and the merchant accomplishes GTC — a well-established sales axiom: get the cash.

In the dot-com world, the meaning of GTC can be expanded. If you’re doing business on the Web, you can still think of it as get the cash, or you can think of it as get the customer, or you can think of it as get the click. But however you think of it, definitely think GTC!

The Ka-Ching of Cashing In

GTC may be a nice abbreviation, but what do you do with it? Paint it on your monitor, embed it in your mind, and use it as a guiding principle whenever you are trying to get a prospect to take action.

Let’s say you have an e-commerce site and your customer is ready to check out. To maximize GTC, you would offer all of the following, prominently and clearly:

  • Alternative ways to pay (credit card, check, COD, money order, etc.)
  • Acceptance of as many different credit cards as possible
  • Multiple payment channels (secure server, fax, mail, phone)
  • Third-party payment services —,, PayPal, AOL Payment Services, and so on — if you determine they offer benefits to your business
  • Security assurances
  • Guarantees
  • Return policy
  • Privacy policy

But notice what you just did. You didn’t just do the right things, you did them at the right time, at the right place. If you want to maximize the sales impact of what you do, you have to do it at the corresponding point of action (POA).

Get Them While They’re Hot… or Not

You do provide reassuring policies on privacy, returns, guarantees, credit card security, shipping, and so on, don’t you? Great. Now also make sure you provide them at the POA.

The key to gaining the confidence of potential customers lies not just in providing assurances but in providing the right assurances, phrased in the right way, and presented when they matter most to your customers as they move through your sales process.

Take a look at With regard to POA, the site does a pretty good job of taking the brick-and-mortar customer experience and transferring some of the fundamentals online. At the bottom of most pages you’ll see a section called Shop With Confidence. As soon as you get to the shopping bag or checkout pages, that same message is not just repeated, it’s moved up the screen and displayed more prominently.

Here is some of the language used in the links:

  • Easy Returns, Free Exchanges
  • Secure Shopping
  • Credit Card Safety
  • Privacy

As you move through the (unfortunately way too many) steps of its checkout process, the “Shop With Confidence” message keeps following you.

Don’t you want your own customers to shop with confidence, too? also has a fine example of using GTC and POA. Its “Add to Shopping Cart” button uses both simultaneously. The folks know it is difficult to get someone to put something into his or her cart. What did they do? Right underneath the “Add to Shopping Cart” text they included “(you can always remove it later).” Amazing how seemingly little messages presented at exactly the right time can slip in subliminally and affect buying.

Why don’t other sites do the same?

Making a Point of Point of Action

So often we neglect to use POA on our sites. Include a reassuring statement that you value your client’s privacy right next to the subscribe or submit button, and it will increase response dramatically. Display a toll-free number prominently at all times, and if shoppers have a problem, they’ll be more likely to call you than just click off to another site.

After the sale, include return, shipping, and customer-service information along with your order confirmation. (You do confirm every order, right? And say “thank you”?) When you deliver, include an incentive to return to your site. This is when customers are most delighted with their transactions with you (hopefully), so it’s when they’re most inclined to return. They might need just a little push, and your incentive will do the trick. Oh, and why would they “tell a friend” before their experience with you is complete and delightful? Then don’t ask them too soon. By all means, ask for referrals — but only at the right POA.

Isn’t it time your site graduated from the ABCs of business to the slightly more advanced GTC and POA?

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