Businesses that offer credit give consumers versatile payment options and generate bigger sales numbers while developing greater customer loyalty. The tactic of getting credit applications, whether for corporate cards or internal financing terms, can backfire when consumers feel pressure during the process. Getting customers to apply for credit starts with a good offer combined with ethical sales practices.

Make an Attractive Offer

Most customers already have a wallet full of credit cards and aren't looking for a new one. Competitive credit cards have low or no annual fees and offer rewards programs to encourage regular use. Some have both. Unless there is something that draws their attention to a new offer, there isn't much motivation to apply.

Creating an attractive offer often includes an immediate discount, extended time to pay without interest, or rebate points. Immediate discounts take a percentage off the amount of the current purchase. For example, offering 10 percent off the current sale price just for applying is common. "Pay no interest for six months" is often offered by businesses with higher ticket sales such as furniture or appliance companies. Rebate points work like rewards of major credit cards, perhaps offering 1 percent back on all purchases to encourage repeat business and brand loyalty. There may also be special seasonal discounts available to cardholders.

Set Up an Easy Application and Approval Process

When consumers make the decision to purchase something, they don't want to spend a long time closing the transaction. If customers at the register are asked to complete a credit application, it should be brief. Delaying the process eats away at consumer patience making it easy to say, "Maybe next time."

A streamlined process allows service representatives the ability to keep the sales process going in a quick and friendly manner while collecting the data needed. If the offer is enticing, those who already have an established credit history are more likely to apply if the process is easy. If credit approval guidelines are not excessively restrictive, those with no or poor credit can also be encouraged to apply in efforts to build or rebuild credit.

Practice Ethical Promotions

Businesses that are successful in obtaining credit applications usually have a process in place. Note financing opportunities on websites and in print advertising. Hard and pushy sales tactics tend to turn customers away, not just from the application but from repeat customer visits.

An effective way to open the conversation is to ask customers if they'd like to pay with the company credit card. If customers have the card, they will use it. If they don't have the card, representatives are able to open a conversation. Service representatives should ask customers if they are familiar with the financing program or if they'd like to "save some money today."

When customers say no, they shouldn't be questioned as to why. Consumers don't like to discuss their credit situation with sales clerks. Instead, arm the sales representatives with pamphlets they can give customers who prefer to review the information at home.