The Decoy Option

Adapted from Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely.

After years of wanting to go to both, you have been presented the option of either taking a city break in Rome or one in Paris for the first time in your life. Both have a romantic ambience, culture, history, art, fabulous restaurants, and great shopping. The options are very comparable: stay in a nice hotel with breakfast each morning.

So, assuming there were no other overriding factors in your decision, how would you chose which one to go to? Probably not an easy call.

Well, what if another option was thrown in. This option is a decoy. It is comparable in every way but it does not include the option of breakfast on the Rome trip.

Suddenly it appears that the option of taking breakfast on the Rome trip is a lot more special. If it is possible to directly compare Rome without breakfast to Paris with breakfast; Rome with breakfast seems like a very attractive option.

Using techniques like this is common by salesmen. It is used by websites to create pricing options. How offers in supermarkets are made.

The concept behind this is that, people struggle to know the value of something, but they are good at seeing the comparative advantage of one offer over another. When using decoys, you can artificially weight particular options more heavily than others. The author gave many examples of this and the evidence is very strong.

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Increase Sales On-line

People say don’t sell by price; sell by perceived value. How much does this product/ service improve the current situation? How much is that worth?

If you can get that right, you will have the basics of a sales pitch. What else is there? This is my non-exhaustive list based on my experience of being a non-salesperson trying to sell my products:

– Knowing your competition and your unique selling proposition compared to them;
– “…..” (Insert name there) is using the product eg. Add credibility;
– ‘pre-selling’, which is to make people like you or your company, or that you talking in the same tone, with same viewpoint as them. That you understand them. Put pictures up oc yourself and a non-selling About Us page;
– removing friction from a sale- eg. Spelling errors, bad use of language or anything that puts a doubt in peoples mind about the quality of the product. Another point here is one that works for us, but not sure how many others- we took down our free trial – of which we had a 1/20 conversion rate, and experimented with static pages, text and images. This not only increased revenue (curiosity? Less distraction from the selling process?) over time, but it also meant I had more time to get on with my other jobs. It is likely we will put a trial back up when we have more resources to properly follow up the leads;
– awareness of what stage your product is at in terms of its life cycle, eg. Beta, early stage, full product- this will help you speak the right language to the type of customer you are dealing with (innovator, early adopter, mass etc), who all have different requirements from the product.

Hopefully I will add more here as I learn them.

Please give me some more tips!

Don’t forget the emotion.

My friends company got investment recently. They said initially they sent out their deck to investors with about 20 slides in. After a while they reduced it to 5 slides but included a cover letter with the story of the company on. This made much more interest. And the cover letter made a big difference as it was that that the investors remembered. It contained the emotion. People engage with emotions. I found this before with my About Us page article. When I made it more salesy, people stopped buying. I was actually turning them off our company by miss-using the page for anything other than what it should be used for- building emotion and a compelling story about our brand.