It’s “family weekend” at my son’s college and many students have visitors.  We’re here to find out how our children are getting along in the halls of academia and to learn what they’re learning.

As we were having dinner the first evening we quite naturally discussed what my son is studying in his classes.  It seems that his favorite class is economics.  That’s interesting to me.  Economics, after all, is the “dismal” science!  What can be fascinating about that?  A lot it turns out.

One of the things his class has been looking at is consumer behavior in the marketplace.  My ears perk up.  Perhaps I will learn something myself…

We discussed the science behind offering consumers choices.  Apparently, what many of us understood intuitively is backed by solid research.   The best way to sell something is to offer consumers three choices.

When I was asking people for money for political campaigns 20 years ago I’d discovered the power of this concept.  I’ve read about it recently in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”.  Now I was hearing that BMW’s best selling, and most profitable car, is the 4 Series.  Right between the 3 and the 5.  I heard a number of other examples.  It made sense to me and resonated with my own experience.

Then I wondered to myself why we don’t always give customer’s in our agencies three choices?  Clearly choice matters. Additionally, the research backs up the fact that consumers will overwhelmingly pick the middle choice.  They will also pick one of the choices most of the time when given the choice.

It occurs to me that we have the opportunity to increase our close ratio by aligning our offering with basic human behavior.  The “dismal” science had something to teach me as well as my son!  We will be offering three choices all the time in the future.  I will be fascinated to learn how it impacts our sales.  What about you?

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