The Magic of Choice

It wasn’t too long ago that in-home sales reps had a distinct advantage when they walked into a home.

Disappearing Advantage

It wasn’t too long ago that in-home sales reps had a distinct advantage when they walked into a home. They had more information about their products than the consumer.

Wow. Those days are long gone.

Buyer’s Journey

Today’s savvy buyers are just a Google search away from a limitless amount of information – as well as misinformation. These consumers are on a buyer’s journey. In this journey, buyers first become aware they have a problem. For example, there may be no AC or they have a room that is always too hot or too cold and finally want to do something about it.

Next buyers consider their options and gather information. Internet search, on-line reviews and word-of-mouth referrals all come in to play. When the choice involves HVAC, an in-home sales call is often part of the consideration phase. That sales call may well be the final step of the buyer’s journey – making a decision.


Your preparation for this sales call is critical. Showing up on-time, being polite and knowledgeable goes without saying. Your ability to connect with your customer and convey your passion about your products and services often makes the difference between winning or losing. But should you offer choices? If so, how many choices? How should you position your prices?

A Predictably Irrational Choice

Customers are “predictably irrational” as Dan Ariely of Duke University explains in several books, TED Talks and YouTube videos — all well worth your time. He explains the benefits of “decoy pricing” – setting a low, entry level price to start your discussion. But, once you have set this “price anchor” how many choices should you offer?

Too Many Choices

Barry Schwartz explains why “more isn’t always better” and states that “research now shows that there can be too much choice; when there is, consumers are less likely to buy anything at all.” This situation – called choice overload – can stall the decision. “The antidote for overloaded consumers isn’t more options, it’s decision simplicity.” Simply put, “if customers ask for more choice, don’t listen” states Karen Freeman, Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird in a recent Harvard Business Review Article.

Magic Number of Choices

Kirsten Jordan points out why “two choices mean that one option is right and one option is wrong. It polarizes the decision. And since no one wants to be wrong, adults will spend more time thinking through the options. Giving someone three options automatically flips some sort of switch in most brains to make it ok to consider al three options. People will make a decision faster and with less angst.”

Sorry, No Magic

Despite what anyone says all customers are different – there is no magic one-size fits all. Some customers just want a firm recommendation – what do YOU recommend? Others are pure shoppers – no number of choices will satisfy. But a lot of research points to a 3-option, good-better-best pricing strategy as a great starting point.