Reduce choice to improve your sales results

by Peter Osborne on June 22, 2010 · 0 comments

Are you giving your prospects too many choices?

I believe that if three different people raise the same issue over the course of a week, it’s worth listening.   Today’s idea is Limit Choice.

It started with coming across Groupon, which is one of those businesses where customers are a great deal on a single item.  The deal depends on either a certain number of people taking it or it’s there until the supply runs out.   I signed up and while I haven’t bought anything yet, the deals are great and I anticipate I will participate before too long.  But I did subscribe to their feed.

A few days later I was listening to an interview where Gary Vaynerchuk, the author of “Crush It,” was offering some advice to start-ups.  He’s a bit over-the-top, but one of his pieces of advice had to do with simplicity and limiting choice.  Gary was talking about how he had tested the “Groupon” model in one of his retail wine stores by replacing a rack near the front that held 10 bargain wines with just one.  The result?  ”We’re crushing it,’ he said.  ”We’re selling these bottles at a staggering rate, one that trumps residual loss of not selling many products in that space.”

All this ended with a conversation with another consultant about one of the key “rules” we followed when offering credit-cards through the mail in a previous life.  We tested everything and inevitably found that Choice Suppresses.  The more variations on a card offer — different designs, different pricing, different value propositions — the fewer responses we received.

This concept is very important as you launch and market your consulting practice, particularly if you expect to have a portfolio career where you work for a number of different clients.  As I look back on the past year, I think I threw too many things against the wall when marketing to prospective clients.  I had a one-page document with 10 different “core competencies” across three categories.  It’s too many and I believe I’ve probably lost prospects who might have benefited from my skills but got lost looking at the others.

Try this exercise:  List your marketable skills and points of differentiation (i.e., segment the different ways you can solve a prospect’s problems).   For each skill, list specific prospects and/or places you can find prospects (e.g, a specific LinkedIn group, association membership lists).  Create separate landing pages on your website for each skill and link them from customized marketing pieces.

I’ll close with a link to a blog I wrote elsewhere that includes a great clip from the movie City Slickers reinforcing the importance of reducing choice and focusing on that one thing that differentiates you from the competition. 

Think about places where you might be offering excessive choice to customers and what impact that might be having on their buying decision.  Are there opportunities to reduce the choice — perhaps by careful targeting of benefits or skills — and actually increase response?

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