Confusion to Conviction: Creating the Mind that Buys

You’re watching the Super Bowl when one of those unforgettable commercials comes on. You grab your sides with laughter. How do they come up with these things?

The next day everybody at work is talking about that great ad for… for…

What the heck WAS the product?

We’ve all seen those ads—so much wall-to-wall cleverness and funny characters that there’s no room in your head to notice and remember what should be the one thing that three million bucks were supposed to achieve: the name of the product.

The same thing applies to the sales process. Who hasn’t seen a salesperson, fresh from a seminar on cross-selling, suddenly spread a dozen different account options like a Japanese fan in front of the poor customer, whose expression falls into a blank and frightened stare?

Why shouldn’t it? She can’t process all of the variables at once, and she doesn’t want to make a decision she’ll regret, so she goes into defensive mode to keep from making a mistake. People want to spend their money wisely, and it’s harder to think clearly about one option when it’s in a forest of others. So she stammers something about needing to check with her husband and out the door she goes—possibly for good.

Randy Gage put it best when he said: “a confused mind never buys.” Have your sales and marketing people tattoo that axiom on their brains. The choice is a lovely thing, but give people too many options, and they won’t make a choice at all

Barry Schwartz drives this point home in The Paradox of Choice—Why More is Less. More couples form in speed dating events with six options than with twelve. More customers buy jam from a street market vendor with four choices than from a similar stall with eight choices.

Even if a customer does manage to make a choice, they are likely to be less happy about the one they selected because they know about the advantages they turned down in the other options. People who were offered a plane ticket to Las Vegas valued the gift more highly when it was offered in isolation than when it was offered with several choices. You confuse ’em; you lose ’em. So keep it simple.

Keep marketing pieces to a single central message. Make one offer per pitch. This will make purchasing your product or service easy for the customer and will create a mind more ready to buy.

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