You’ve probably heard the term before, but what exactly is “Ockham’s Razor” and how can it help someone in a sales job? Well, back in the day, a English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher named William of Ockham was attributed with saying something like “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” Of course, there is much more to it than this, but for the sake of our context, we will leave it at that.
Anyway, if we look at the logic behind such a statement from a sales perspective, it appears to be pretty useful. This is largely due to the fact that many psychologists (such as Barry Schwartz) now argue that when humans are given too many choices of anything in life, their decision process is only made more difficult, frustrating and downright confusing, thus leading to decreased happiness.
Therefore, when selling something, it is usually best to give your prospective customer as few major choices as possible, at least in the initial stages of the sales process. If you absolutely must offer a dizzying array of choices, perhaps you can make them known after you’ve closed the deal—sort of like customizations on a base product—as long as it remains ethical.
To give a good example of this, when I used to sell gym memberships, we would only show two options to our potential members. We had a nationwide monthly membership and a statewide monthly membership. That was it. Once we showed these two options, we’d sit back and shut up and wait for the credit card to come out or the objections to start rolling in.
If a customer really didn’t like either plan, only then would we bring out some other membership customizations. In reality, we probably had at least 20 different memberships to sell, each with numerous add-ons and payment options. We simply knew that if we presented all 20 at once, it would be that much more difficult to get a sale on the spot. More options lead to more things to think about and that leaves the door wide open for more objections.
So, in summary, keep it as simple as you can. Regardless of whether you’re selling cars, insurance, vegetables or pretty much anything else, there needs to be a strict limit on how many initial options are presented to a prospect at one time. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If only William of Ockham could see us now, he’d surely be proud of how useful his philosophy has become!