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I (Doug) am a meat and potatoes guy, and always have been. Beginning in the mid-1960’s when the first Arby’s opened in Louisville where I grew up, I developed a crush on Arby’s Big Roast Beef Sandwiches. I’ve eaten a multitude of them over the last 55 years. Back in the day when I walked up to the counter the only choice I had to make was small, medium, or large.

Today, all these years later I still enjoy these sandwiches. But when the wife and I queue up to the counter and look up at the Arby’s menu board, here are the sandwich options we see today: 10 roast beef, 10 pork, 8 chicken, and 8 turkey choices. Additionally there are 7 different sliders, 4 salad choices, 8 unique sides, and 8 desserts. As you’ve probably already guessed I always order my old standby, the Classic Roast Beef Sandwich. But my wife stands there staring like a deer in the middle of the road as a speeding vehicle approaches. She eventually nervously giggles and says, “Oh, I don’t know what to choose, there are just way too many choices.”

I’m sure you think it’s very cool that your company offers multiple services and products, in lots of sizes and colors, packaged in a variety of configurations. However, you’re not doing your prospects and customers any favors by offering them lots of those choices. I read about an experiment performed at a California gourmet shop where a sample table was set up for shoppers to test different kinds of jam. When there were 24 varieties to choose from, more people stopped to look, but few people actually bought anything. When only 6 flavors were available sales were brisk. People tend to freeze up when they have too many options (like my wife at Arby’s).

Research seems to confirm that people are confronted by not only ‘information overload’ but also ‘anticipated regret.’ The more available options, the more reasons folks second-guess their choices. It also appears that although more choices are designed to provide more value, buyers tend to be more dissatisfied with their results and fret about conceivably overlooking a possibility. These examples are both instances where more becomes less!

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Keep in mind what I (Doug) regularly say, “People love to buy but hate to be sold.” And, “Nobody wants to be pushed but everybody likes to be led.” So my suggestion to this dilemma will sound familiar to regular Selling Point readers. Before doing a data dump of your offerings spend several minutes asking discovery questions to get the best possible snapshot of what your prospect needs, wants, and values. Once these images are revealed to you, THEN cobble together, at most, two or three options for consideration, followed by, “Which will work best for you?”

I will say it once again, “Questions are your best friends.” By investing a little time on the front end of every sales call, asking 10-15 relevant open and closed questions, you zero in on what’s important to the prospect. Additionally, you begin to achieve some likeability, as well as beginning your journey to earning their trust.

To tie a ribbon around this topic, I (Doug) believe many salespeople end up displaying an overwhelming buffet of options and choices in front of buyers because they aren’t willing to consult and perform this all-important discovery process. This laziness is costing tons of sales followed by many recommendations to friends and family that would result in second-generation sales.

————I Finally Get It————

I’ve been a marginal producer for the services company I sell for until this year. Doug, a friend recommended your book, and I’m so glad she did. Now I really understand why and how to use questions in my job. This will be my best year. Thanks Doug! Logan B., N.C.

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