Brilliant Selling
Compare and Contrast to Get Good Business Fast
by James "Alex" Alexander
If you only have one recommendation, the customer compares your offer with your competitor, or compares your offer to doing nothing at all. That is not good!
Choices Are Good
Giving customers (or bosses or children or anyone) options is almost always a good thing. Offering choices involves the other person, and involvement is a key precursor of ownership. Furthermore, offering choices helps build or maintain rapport, as it puts the person making the decision in control, allowing them to compare and contrast their perception of the value they might receive. Giving choices will lead to more sales and happier customers.

Here are the best practices on how to do it right:

1. Make it standard operating procedure to offer three choices. Require it of your sellers in all they do--from making suggestions during initial discussions to outlining three options in formal proposals. Four is too many and two is not enough. Customers like it and are more likely to buy if you offer three alternatives.

2. Craft your three options based upon value potential that is easily discernible by the customer. Your comprehensive option should be both broad and deep, and hence will require the largest investment. Your bare-bones option should be the minimum offering that you are still confident can meet customer requirements. This leaves your high-value option somewhere in the middle. Assuming that all three of your options are strong on value, about two-thirds of your customers will choose your middle option.

3. Always start with your most expensive, comprehensive option, followed by your high-value option, and then finally your bare-bones option. This goes against a “logical” sequence from low to high, but this high-to-low approach has strong emotional appeal. Starting high makes your other two choices seem much more affordable by comparison. I am sure that you have seen this before in other scenarios. For example, if you go into a clothing store to buy a suit, shoes, and a belt, the savvy store clerk will always sell you the suit first. Once you have laid out $1,000 for the suit, paying $250 for shoes seems very reasonable, and a $40 belt seems like a bargain.

So when you are persuading, keep your chances from fading…let them compare and contrast, and you’ll get good business fast.
*Many years ago a CEO asked me to help him determine why profitability was declining while sales volume was growing 15% each year. The analysis showed that when all the costs were figured in, he was losing money on his three biggest accounts that represented 45% of his revenues. Yikes!
James "Alex" Alexander is founder of Alexander Consulting, a management consultancy that helps product companies build brilliant service businesses. Contact him at 239-671-0740 or
Alexander Consulting
5248 Fairfield Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33919