When, and when not to, give options when selling

Options offer the buyer a sense of control. “I’m the one making the decision,” she feels.

“Would you like to sign with the blue pen or the black one?”

This is a technique in closing. It’s an example of what is called an alternative close. When you stop to think about it, does it really matter what pen the buyer uses? Either way, a close (agreement to buy) will happen. Much like it works  when a waiter asks, “As you await your meal, what drink would you like to have? A soda or juice?” And it works because it gives options. This is what I want us to talk about today.

Sense of control

Options offer the buyer a sense of control. “I’m the one making the decision,” she feels. This way she doesn’t feel rushed; and this is important in sustaining the sale. Sometimes, buyers may cancel a purchase days, even months, into a buying because they have struggled in reconciling themselves to the feeling of being rushed into the purchase.

Here is another reason why options are effective. Many sellers still request for an appointment finishing thus: “Let me know when we can meet next week.” To which the buyer responds, “Tuesday, 11am.” And the seller says, “No that will not be possible, as I had another engagement.” And just like that, friction sets in. The buyer wonders why you gave them a blank cheque only to limit the amount they can write on it! Now, if only the seller had given options:  “Would Monday 9am be ok, or would Tuesday 2pm be better?”  Nine out of ten times, the buyer will choose one. The rare times that they don’t, they will come back with an alternative date. And the negotiation of dates can continue till a win-win is attained. And why? The seller gave options thereby removing any friction or possibility of defensiveness creeping in.

Anchor the sale

Besides the aforementioned, options also anchor the sale. An anchor limits the radius within which a ship can drift. Equally, options contain and guide the sale to a close. Think of a doctor during a prognosis. “Does it ache more during the day or night?” “Is he old enough to take tablets, or, do I just give him syrup?” Now, if he had left it at, “When does it ache more?” he would have run the risk of the patient (buyer) drifting into responses like, “I’m not sure. On Sunday as I was leaving church I felt it and last night I think it ached. But sometimes…”

Timing and ceiling

There’s a downside to giving options, however. They are to be used wisely – and when the presentation is not at exploratory stage; at this stage, responses need to be general and wide until a direction is found which needs to be focused using ‘options’. Also, options are best limited to two- three at most, if you must. Beyond this and it’s just irritating or overwhelming- which is why you rarely go past the first page of the results of a Google search.


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