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Here's a great way to increase sales ... few dare talk about it

Here's a great way to increase sales ... few dare talk about it

June 17, 2010

This is going to sound strange, really strange.

Don't say I didn't warn you but here it goes: Sometimes the best way to increase sales is to offer less.

'Come on,' you're probably yelling at your computer screen right now. 'That's stupid Jon! Wal-Mart didn't become the largest retailer by offering less. Microsoft and Apple aren't the most successful technology companies because they offered less!'

Let me explain. What I'm talking about is offering fewer options from which your customers can choose.

Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Apple actually do offer less.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive and in some ways completely illogical, but by offering less you really can increase your sales. Few dare talk about it because you have to have the fortitude to say, "No, we're not going to offer this, that and that. We're just offering this!" Here's how to do it.

First, I have to give you a critical rule you need to know: the more flexibility you give customers to make a choice, the less likely they are to act.

Again, this may sound crazy because we're so conditioned to stand on our heads to meet the customer's needs and provide service that goes above and beyond expectations. But we're not talking about customer service here, we're talking about marketing. And when you're talking about marketing, giving a customer too many options means closing too few sales.

Give them too many choices and you can kiss them good-bye!

Give your customers too many choices and they're like a deer-in-headlights and they'll do nothing. The key is to limit the choices and you'll be more likely to make the sale.

It's really just human nature: if we put off a decision, chances are it won't get done. No doubt you've experienced this yourself as a consumer. If you go into a store knowing exactly what you want, it's much easier to make a choice. But if you're not sure exactly what you're looking for, and you have a choice between A and B, the right answer is not necessarily A or B. A new option appears, and that is to delay the decision and seek more information.

When you're a purchaser, that may be the wise choice ' but when you're the seller, you need to do everything you can to keep purchasers from choosing this option!

Sheen Yyenga proved this at an upscale grocery store called Draeger's in Mineral Park, California.

She wanted to find out what would increase sales: giving more options or fewer options?

In test number one, she set up only 6 different exotic jams to do a free taste test. She then wanted to see how many people would purchase the jam.

In test number two, she offered a greater variety ' 24 different jams to taste test ' and watched to see how many people would purchase them. The results were startling.

Just 2% of the customers purchased when offered 24 jams. When the selections were narrowed to 6 jams, 12% of the people purchased. By giving people more choices, she only confused the issue. That means that the free taste test with only six jams produced 6 times more sales than the test with 24 jams, simply by limiting the number of choices.

'In another research study, an Internet-based company that sold numerous products decided to eliminate 54% of its offerings. In doing so, they actually increased their sales by 11% simply by dropping the number of choices.

Believe it or not, Microsoft and Apple do this too. They don't offer every imaginable configuration of its computers to try to appeal to everyone. No. They offer just a few selections.

Take for example the new iPad. You can choose from 3 versions: a 16 GB, a 32 GB or a 64 GB. And you can choose either a Wi-Fi or a Wi-Fi 3G. That's it.

Wal-Mart doesn't offer every type of laundry detergent, soap or toys. They offer just a few of each.

Avoid the temptation to offer too much and try to be all things to all people.

Limit the options for your customers. They'll be more likely to make a decision and you'll have a better shot of closing the sale.

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President