It’s December and millions of consumers, in their search for the perfect gifts for loved ones, coworkers and the postman, are enduring cranky, overworked employees and lines that snake around the block.
There is little more discouraging than spending all day surveying a million potential gifts but getting no closer to finding the perfect one. These are the days when we look back longingly at a simpler time, where our options were something from the 40 pages of the Sears catalog.
When there’s too much to choose from, information overload takes hold. People make poor decisions (like getting the spouse a blender), they delay decisions altogether or just check out mentally. Whether you’re selling sea salt scrub at the mall, a business solution for a Fortune 500 company, or something in between, you must avoid killing the sale. Keep the deal moving forward by eliminating excessive choices.
My suit jackets are lined with my alma mater’s signature color, each with a custom iPhone pocket. Dressing rooms are my home away from home. But the best way to get me out of a store empty-handed is overloading the racks with too many options. I quickly go from motivated to overwhelmed. Instead of walking out with my next suit, I walk out ready for my next nap.
I’m not alone. We do this to our buyers when we give them too many options. Good intentions lead us to share every possible solution but we just lull our prospects into multitasking and procrastination. Our prospects end up further from a decision than when they started. This sales killer makes our buyers walk away, even if they were once jazzed about our product. With too many choices, there is ambiguity and procrastination is ambiguity’s constant companion. The brain can’t handle a barrage of options at one time.
It's too easy to get lost in the details. They can be crippling. The best way to avoid my dressing room exodus is for the salesperson to work with me, right by my side, talking about each aspect of the suit (color, cut, etc.), eliminating options along the way. Even if customers resist our help at first, when we make it easy for them to accomplish their goal, they tend to appreciate the help and attention.
Facilitate small victories by accomplishing each step one at a time. Beware of your language, though. Customers shouldn't feel like you're forcing them to buy from you, but you can move them toward a decision. Say, "Which would you prefer?" rather than, "Think it over and let me know."
Praise your prospects for each decision accomplished along the way before moving on to the next. Be part of the solution. Remove ambiguity so that your prospects don't quit before they have a chance to start.
Eliminate excessive choices and you’ll be the hero who ends the hunt (and gets the sale).