In his book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, a professor at Swarthmore College, put forth the thesis that one of the serious downside consequences of our modern economy is that businesses and consumers have too many choices. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of offerings for nearly every category of product and service. As a result, buyers have become paralyzed by the mere act of having to choose.
Schwartz also writes that he believes that buyers that have had to choose from among too many alternatives are also typically less happy with the choice they made and more likely to experience some form of buyers remorse.
What does this mean for salespeople? I believe the paradox Schwartz describes speaks to a shortcoming in most of us who sell. When the product or service we are selling is perceived by our prospects to be largely undifferentiated from those of our competitors, it means that we haven’t given them a clear reason to purchase our offering. As a seller, it is our responsibility to reduce the number of choices for the prospect by standing apart from our competitors, making it easier and quicker for them to make a decision. When products and services are perceived by customers to be very similar the basis for their decision turns to the intangibles.
In this environment the task for us, the seller, is to differentiate ourself and present a clear and compelling choice to the prospect based on how we sell our product or service. Are we being responsive in Zero-Time to the customer’s request for information they need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible? Are we Selling with Maximum Impact in the Least Time to provide substantive value on each customer interaction? Are we creating the positive First Perception that provides a first mover sales advantage in building trust, creating credibility and differentiating us from the competitors? Do these things and we will create substantive value for the prospect by standing out from the crowd, giving them the opportunity to make a rare, clear-cut choice.
I don’t believe the problem is that buyers today have too many choices. I believe the issue confronting customers today is that the many choices they have are largely undifferentiated. If the alternatives from which a customer has to choose are perceived to be virtually identical then it is natural that they would be curious about whether they could make the “best” decision. Buyers remorse is a reaction on the part of the customer that their decision to purchase from us was not an affirmative choice to buy the absolute best solution but of choosing the least bad of the alternatives. As a seller, we absolutely have it in our power to ensure that our customers always feels like they made the best, and only, decision they could have made.
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales.
© Andy Paul 2013