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Jun 12

Too Many Choices

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

I was looking over a restaurant’s menu of multiple pages and was struggling to figure out what to order. After a few moments I found an old stand-by. It was a safe choice, and I placed my order. Others at the table had similar challenges.  There were just too many choices.

A study published by Ragan’s PR Daily offered one group of shoppers 24 different samples of jams while another group was offered only six possible selections. Interestingly, the customers with six choices chose 20% more product than those with 24 choices. Sometimes by offering fewer options we increase our chances of making the sale. Too many choices may make the customer indecisive and confused.


Recently I walked into a flooring store and was overwhelmed with all of the choices. It seemed like thousands of different products were available. Fortunately, the salesman asked several qualifying questions. The questions helped me eliminate 97% of the choices. Immediately this made the selection process manageable. Had we been left to our own devices we likely would’ve left the store confused and frustrated.

In my consulting work I’ve learned to help focus the client to make the most effective use of my time. In the past I might’ve said, “Tell me what you would like to work on.” I learned that this only confuses a prospective customer to the point they may not want to engage. I’ve learned to ask some qualifying questions. The first allows me to zero in on two or three key items for my initial work.  Then I present these recommendations to the client. This is much more effective than a blue sky approach.

A jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, “They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’” (Acts 16:31, NIV) This scripture reminds us that we all receive two choices:  to believe in the Lord or not. 

Likewise in our business we should consider offering fewer choices in order to be careful that we do not overwhelm customers.

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