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Help Wanted: Information for Decision Making

June 23, 2013
Mary Jane Copps

I first encountered the impact of too many choices several years ago. I was in a greeting card store, standing in front of one of the many racks filled with colour and images and words. I had already walked up and down the aisles twice, yet there I stood, unable to not only make a choice of what card to purchase, but not even capable of picking up a card to read the message it offered.

“It didn’t used to take me this long to choose a birthday card,” I said to myself. “This used to be a quick errand. What’s my problem today?” 

Then I thought back a bit and realized that my decision-making was quicker when I had less choice. My perfectionist streak, which has me believe there is a perfect card for both the person and the occasion, meant that a store filled with options was (and still is) a decision-making nightmare.

I walked out of the store without buying anything.

This same scenario plays out for me at the grocery store, when I’m shopping for clothes or making a decision about electronics. If there are too many choices – or if I’m not sure I have enough information – I often make no decision at all. I’m guessing this happens to some of you as well. I know it happens to our customers and clients.

What helps is having input from someone else. For example, when my husband and I do the grocery shopping together, we talk it out – what’s the salt content, what’s the sugar content, what’s the price, etc. etc. Between the two of us a decision gets made and something gets added to the cart.

No matter what your product or service – retail, hospitality, consulting – you can – and should – help your clients and prospective clients “talk it out”.

How?

One of the best ways is to provide information on what other customers have done, especially when you can show a lot of similarity. For example:

“Young families tend to favour this vehicle because of the space available for children, dogs, groceries … .” 

“This phone tends to be the choice of most entrepreneurs because … .” 

“Other restaurant owners find that including a coupon in their advertising helps them  … .” 

Another way to help with decision making is to share your knowledge of the industry or product. For example:

“In my experience, this product lasts longer than the others. The price is higher but you save money because you don’t need to replace it as often.” 

“I’ve certainly received rave reviews over the years about this museum. If you only have time to do one thing today, I know you won’t be disappointed.” 

“I work with a lot of small business owners and they are definitely pleased about … .” 

Many of your customers and potential customers want to buy something from you but are struggling to make a decision. By offering them the input of your knowledge and experience you can help them … instead of leaving them to make no decision at all.

How are you helping your clients make decisions?

8 COMMENTS

  1. Linda Daley says:

    I agree with you about choices in stores. I do, however, like to know what all my options are when making choices around things that impact processes. For awhile I thought my clients would want all the nitty gritty details too – WRONG. So I simplified… you can have option 1 or option 1. hehe

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Great point, Linda. Often we overwhelm the client’s decision making process by offering them all kinds of details that aren’t essential. Simplifying our message is also being “helpful”!

  2. Nicole Osmond says:

    Thanks Mary Jane. Some great insight and advice, as always!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Nicole. I’m always so pleased when the blog “hits the mark”. Glad that this one was valuable to you.

  3. I know what you’re saying…I just recently did research on cloud based bookkeeping systems and CRMS…it was soooo time consuming that I messed up my back from bending over my laptop at my coffee table and had to take a day off! That’s why it’s so important to identify what your clients’ needs and challenges are, to create a clear and concise message as to how you can help them – the value that you provide, and then what are the EASY steps it takes to work together. KISS!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Exactly, Debi. Simple clear messages help with decision making. If clients/customers need more details, they will always let you know.

  4. Nathalie says:

    I have been struggling with decisions myself and know the feeling of walking out having bought nothing.
    More specifically decisions about your life, they are more important, the more fear about making the WRONG decision.
    No matter your decision there are always foreseen and un-foreseen opportunities or consequences/impacts to your decision.
    Making an informed decision or helping clients make an informed decision
    I think always start with them ( what do they want) that helps narrow down the pool.
    And knowing the right questions to ask to get that information.

    For example when I used to work in a retail store, back when.. people would come in and ask;
    “What this the best camera on the market” when the the best may not a)fit their needs and b) they may be paying and not use half of the features- basically throwing money away.
    So it’s important to probe on why and the use of it.”
    In coaching with life decisions its the same thing.
    But the decisions involving life or business do demand more engagement.
    Feeling confident to take ownership of your decisions, regardless if you feel it was not the right one in retropect, is a key to learning how to make better decisions-and where to get the help you need to make one.
    Great topic!!! Mary-Jane

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Great to hear from you, Nathalie, and you make some valuable points. And you are right – asking good questions does help our clients make decisions. I think you’ve given me a new blog post!

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