Paul explains why limiting the options you give the customer is beneficial all around.
Give the customer three options. Any more than three create angst and indecision—or worse—the wrong decision.
Guide your customer to the option that will most completely satisfy their needs: “The choice is yours, but based on the information you shared with me, this is going to be the best option.”
Provide social proof for the solution that best suits the customer’s needs: testimonials, endorsements, etc.
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Why are fewer choices better?
(Transcribed from podcast)
So, something happened the other day and it made me think of one of my favorite books, Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice, and what we’re going to talk about today is why we need to limit the options that we give our customers. That is the topic today. And, to kick things off, I’m going to share with you what prompted this episode.
But before we get into that, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it probably 185 times now ‘cause I think that’s which episode we’re on—or right around there. But anyway, if you need help with your podcast, Andrea and The Creative Impostor Studios, they are your go-to resource. They’re going to help you produce edit, get set up, whatever you need to do. All things podcasting, Andrea is here to help. She’s great. She’s supportive, she’s responsive. [She] and her team will take care of you. So, reach out to Andrea or her team over at The Creative Impostor Studios. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, great news! Selling Through Tough Times is now available. It’s available at Barnes & Noble; it’s available on Amazon, Porchlight (which used to be 800 CEO Read). It’s available wherever you get your books. This is your go-to guide to build mental resilience and grow your profits through any downturn, through any tough time. And what’s interesting about this whole idea of selling through tough times, if you’re a brand new salesperson struggling to get started, you’re facing tough times. If you are in a sales slump, you’re facing tough times. If your industry is facing stiff competition, if you’re facing industry disruption, you are facing tough times. This book is your go-to guide, so pick up a copy, leave a review, and just implement the techniques that we talk about in the book.
So, let’s get back to that question: Why do we need to limit the choices that our customers have? So here’s what prompted this story. I was down in Orlando just a couple of days ago, speaking at a convention. When you’re in Orlando, you’ve got to get Disney-World themed souvenirs for your kids. So I hopped over to Disney Springs, which is that downtown Disney area, to pick out some souvenirs for my kids. I got a six pack of pens. I’ve got three daughters, so that means each daughter gets two pens.
So here’s what happened. I got home from out of town, and my oldest daughter was the first one there, and the other girls were at soccer, practice, dance class, all that good stuff. So, I told my daughter, I said, “Okay, here you go. I have six pens. Each kid gets two. You get to pick first.” And she was looking at six different options, and she got to pick two pens. She toiled over the decision. It was harder for her to figure out, “Which ones do I want to get?” She looked at all of them. She wrote with them. She’d see how they would feel in her hand. She toiled over the decision, and it’s because she had too many options to choose from.
Now, my next daughter—my middle daughter—she was able to pick next. I picked her up from her voice class and I said, “Hey, I got four pens. You can pick two, your sister, your older sister already picked her two.” And when she looked at the four pens, she still toiled over which ones to choose. And not only that, but she also had the fear of missing out. And one of her first questions was, “Well, which ones did she pick?” And she wants to know about those pens. So, she had two different dynamics: she had the paradox of choice, and also the fear of missing out. She wanted the pens that her older sister had selected.
And then finally, when we got to the runt of the litter, to my youngest girl, here’s what she said. I handed her two pens and said, “I got you two pens,” and she said, “Thank you,” and gave me a big hug. She was the happiest out of all of them. And I believe the reason why is because she didn’t have to choose.
That’s one thing, as I mentioned, Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice, great book—I’d highly recommend it. He talks about how we all love options, but we just hate to choose. And as I look at the progression of events, how my oldest daughter, she got to select from six pens. She toiled over the decision. My middle daughter, she got to pick from four pens, and she had the fear of missing out. She was curious as to what my oldest daughter picked. And when we got to my youngest girl, she was the happiest because she didn’t have to choose. She didn’t have to choose, I just gave her two pens.
This made me think about how salespeople present their solutions to their customers. There needs to be a balance, a balance of making a recommendation, and giving that customer perceived control over making the decision. We need to guide them to the right decision. We need to decide with them, not for them. And that’s a delicate balance, because you, as the salesperson, you have an understanding of their needs and you know which solution is going to be best for them. So, we need to balance that with giving them that perceived control.
So I wanted to give you a few tips. When you are presenting your solution to the customer, here are three things to consider. Number one: limit the number of options available to your customers. It’s that simple. When you are presenting a solution to your customer, do not give them six or seven different items to choose from. Don’t give them ten different variations of the same product. Instead, give them three options and that’s it. Any more than three, you’re creating angst and you’re forcing them to make a tougher decision.
And the reason why I say that—the more options you have, the more likely you are to make the wrong decision. It’s simple math. Think about it. If you’re given three options, you have a 33% chance of choosing the right option. If you’re given ten options, you have a 10% chance of choosing the right option. And I know that’s simplifying a little bit, but remember, the more choices customers have, the more likely it is that they could choose the wrong option. So we want to limit the number of choices that they have.
Now, number two: guide your customer to the best option. If you are a true professional seller, that means you have gained an in-depth understanding of your customer’s needs. You know what’s important to them; you know what they’re trying to achieve. Use that information to guide them to the best option that will most completely satisfy their needs. And when you’re leading the customer to that option, remind them that, “Hey, the choice is yours, but based on the information you shared with me, this is going to be the best option.” By doing that, you’re creating value; you’re making it easier for them to say yes. You’re guiding them versus telling them. And that’s an important distinction, because we don’t want to tell them, “Hey, this is the one you should choose.” We want to guide them. We want to decide with them, again, not for them.
Finally, provide some social proof and the example that I mentioned, where my middle daughter, she had four pens to choose from. She wanted to know which ones the oldest daughter had selected. And the reason why, those ones were considered more desirable. Naturally, the person who gets to pick first is going to pick the “best” ones. And the same can be true when we are presenting to our customers. When we can share endorsements, when we can provide social proof, (meaning we can share other companies that have purchased the same solution and have experienced happiness and experienced the outcomes that they want), that creates social proof. Social proof is critical when we are making decisions. We want to know that we’re making the right decision, and if we select an option that is highly desirable, that other companies have used, that’s going to show that what we’re offering them is proven in some ways, that it is going to perform. We would because it’s highly desired by other companies, other decision makers. So provide that social proof as part of it.
So just to wrap things up, remember, help your customers make the right decision. That’s a balance of understanding their needs and crafting the ideal solution. Remember though, there are other dynamics that will influence the buyer’s decision. And that includes the number of choices that we give the customer. So, limit your choices. Make it easier for them to say yes. Guide them to the right decision and use some social proof to help them feel confident in their decision.
Make it a big day.