The Research on Why Limited Options Can Actually Boost Sales

Jam Jars
The brain can be­come overwhelmed when evaluating multiple products, even those as simple as jam.

You’ve probably heard, “A confused mind always says, ‘No.'” Well, it’s true. In my work with sales professionals, I remind them that unnecessary industry jargon can overwhelm prospects. David Hoffeld, author of The Science of Selling would add that too many options can also overwhelm. David was my guest at a recent FrippVT Sales Series web event. This excerpt from David book explains how limiting options can actually boost sales and watch the replay of our recent web event:

Presenting Too Many Choices

by David Hoffeld

When too many options are presented to the brain it has trouble mak­ing a buying decision, which drives down sales. Social scientists, Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper demonstrated this in a well-known experiment they conducted at an upscale grocery store in Menlo Park, California.
The Science of Selling by David Hoffeld

The researchers set up a tasting booth that allowed consumers to sample an assortment of jams. The first week, twenty-four different jams were available for patrons to taste. Despite many people trying the jams, only 3 percent purchased any. The following week, the researchers went back to the store, but this time they offered only six jams for the shoppers to taste. Sales skyrocketed by 900 percent! The conclusion that this and other experiments reached is that limiting the amount of selections boosts buying behaviors.

Why is this the case? It does not take much at all for the brain to be­come overwhelmed when evaluating numerous products, even those as simple as jam. When the brain reaches its cognitive limits, it becomes stunned and confused. This will cause buyers either to refuse to make a buying decision or, if they do purchase, to be plagued with doubt over whether they made the right decision.

David Hoffeld is the author of the acclaimed book The Science of Selling and the CEO and chief sales trainer at the research-based sales and consulting firm, Hoffeld Group. He is a sales and leadership contributor to Fast Company and has been featured in Fortune, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, CBS Radio and Fox News Radio. To learn more about his science-backed sales strategies visit:

Thank you David!

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