Today’s post is by David Hoffeld, the author of The Science of Selling, the ground-breaking book that reveals practical sales strategies based on more than 1,000 different scientific studies. To learn more about David and his new book visit www.hoffeldgroup.com.
What makes the presentation of a product or service compelling, while another presentation of that same product or service falls flat?
The good news is that, over the past few decades, there has been an explosion of scientific research on how the brain makes choices and which factors influence the decision-making process. Out of this research, scientists have identified certain innate mental reflexes – “heuristics” our brains use to form rapid judgments. The brain uses heuristics out of sheer necessity – without them, we would be paralyzed by the staggering number of decisions we make every day!
Heuristics are vital to understand because they are the rules the brain follows when making choices. Often sales and business people – who genuinely desire to serve others and ethically share how their product or service will improve potential customers’ lives and businesses – inadvertently present in ways that contradict these heuristics. When this occurs, potential customers frequently reject the product or service in spite of the fact that purchasing would be in their best interest. In other words, they are not able to accurately perceive the product or service because of how it was shared with them.
So how can you make sure you are presenting in ways that help others understand the true value of your product or service? What I’ve learned from nearly a decade of research for my upcoming book The Science of Selling is that, by utilizing the rules our brains follow when making judgments, we can help others better evaluate our products or services.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the book that describes one of these heuristics, known as “Single-Option Aversion.”
Does the number of product options presented impact whether or not a purchase will be made? This was the question behavioral scientist Daniel Mochon sought to answer. His research, which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research, determined that the number of product options did heavily influence buying behaviors.
In one of his experiments, consumers were asked to purchase a DVD player. When a single DVD player was shown, only 10 percent purchased. However, when two different brands were shown sales skyrocketed, as an impressive 34 percent agreed to purchase the original DVD player, while 32 percent agreed to purchase the second DVD player. In total, a whopping 66 percent of shoppers agreed to purchase at least one of the DVD players when two options were shown.
When buyers are presented with only a single product or service, they rarely feel confident enough to make a positive buying decision and will want to look at alternatives. The reason is because of single-option aversion. This heuristic causes the brain to assign more risk to a decision when there is only one option in a choice set. Without something similar to compare a product or service to, the brain struggles to identify value and the decision-making process will often stall.
On the other hand, when the brain is shown competing alternatives, it will automatically assess each and select the best. This evaluation drastically reduces the perception of risk and the fear of making a poor decision. When presenting your products or services, always give buyers a few options. Doing so will make it easier for their brains to arrive at a decision.
There is a general theme prevalent within all the research on how our brains form choices: the way something is presented shapes how it will be perceived and whether or not it will be acted on. By aligning your behaviors with the mental shortcuts that affect perception, you will become more influential, share your ideas more effectively, and better serve others.