Peter Krišťák, 17.04.2018

Never sell only one choice

So you finally put the price bid exactly according to the client's requirements. Are you done? Not yet!

The psychology of purchase decisions is a huge and magical chapter of sales and marketing. Anyone who really cares about their business and financial results should strive to understand it deeply. Of course, the whole area hasn’t even been described yet, let alone researched. (If you’re interested in the topic, I recommend popular publications from authors as Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman.) I have no ambition and it’s not even in my power to deal with all aspects of the psychology of purchasing decision-making here. But there is one obvious and expensive mistake that we as marketers and salesmen often make: we don’t give our clients more than one choice.

We may be irrational and naturally lazy beings, but we’re not stupid. Caution and mistrust are natural reactions when we come across an annoying salesman. And if we lack experience we usually doubt the benefit of a price proposal – regardless of price.

So experienced and smart salesmen use a trick. Instead of offering one only choice (buy vs. not buy), they provide several choices (buy A vs. buy B vs. ... vs not buy). How does this simple trick work?

1) It simplifies decision-making. Especially if it’s difficult to assess the benefit of the offer for the client because they she is not sufficiently informed. But choosing between similarly structured alternatives of value and price – even a child can do that.

2) It satisfies people’s natural need to win. If the client chooses a cheaper option (or cuts out some items), they’ll feel as if they have saved money and the salesman lost some.

3) It allows people to feel clever and important. It makes them feel that they know how to make decisions and can manage their own lives confidently.

As a result, clients are more motivated to make a buying decision and are “kept in our store” longer. The likelihood that they eventually buy some option is multiplied. It is true that decision-making itself is already exhausting - and the comparison with the alternatives of competition may be evaluated by most as a step that does not bring good new opportunities.

A separate chapter is creating the correct choice mix. The most effective salesmen can lay a “false choice” trap for clients. Such a choice does not make sense and is only there to help increase the buying conversion of the remaining alternatives.

Conclusion: Give the client a choice. Otherwise, the alternative to buying from you will be to buy nothing or from your competitors.

Peter Krišťák

Author is partner and founder of Pricewise


He specialises in pricing and revenue management

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