Recently, another speaker and I were driving from a hotel to a nearby conference center. Although the directions we had received were murky, we could see the conference center from the hotel, so we figured it couldn’t be too hard to get there.

We figured wrong.

Every road leading away from the hotel went in the opposite direction of the conference center. Eventually, we ended up on a frontage road that got us near it, but left us at a dead end.

(Side note: On the frontage road, we drove past a work crew with two men holding “slow/stop” signs. After we turned around, we wondered if it really would have been too much trouble for either of them to warn us that the road ended just a few hundred feet ahead. Then we wondered why a five-person work crew was repairing a stretch of road that literally went nowhere.)

After driving around for half an hour, we finally found a sign that pointed us toward the conference center. It was the only one in the area. And it couldn’t be seen from where we had originally started.

It got me thinking about the importance of providing good directions to those who would like to do business with us. Do we give our prospects clear instructions that make buying from us easy, or do we leave them in limbo, assuming they’ll “figure it out?” If it’s the latter, odds are you’re losing sales.

Modern buyers won’t stand for complicated or time-consuming buying processes. With more competition today than ever before, they don’t have to. If your system is too abstruse, it’s easier for a prospect to go somewhere else than figure out your process.

Keep in mind that your systems and processes make sense to you because you deal with them every day. Your prospects don’t. Look at your buying process from your customer’s point of view (or hire a mystery shopping company to do it for you) to determine how you might make it more buyer-friendly.

Whether it’s your store, your web site, your proposal or any other interface between you and your prospects, make the directions clear, simple and easy-to-follow. You don’t want them getting lost on their way to giving you money.