If you are a client of mine, then you know I’m a huge fan of always providing options to the customer.  There have been several instances the past few weeks when, while working with clients on sales campaigns, I have been reminded me of just how powerful they are.  What are the advantages of providing options to your customers?


First and foremost, you are actually letting the customer buy from you versus you selling to them.  When presented with options, the customer is, in effect, being told that they have a say in what they are buying.  They actually get to choose the best solution for them.  What a concept!  You’ve also signaled to the customer that you are flexible and that you want to provide the best solution for the client.  It’s not just “my way or the highway”, which is how customers feel when presented with one and only one proposal from you.


But there are more advantages than that and more reasons why I believe you should always present options. You can use options to advance your sales and corporate strategy.  For example, if your typical selling motion is to “land and expand”, then you can provide options that include the “land” option but other options that show the customer what a future business relationship could look like.  In other words, they get a glimpse of what the “expand” might look like and can start socializing and budgeting for those larger deals.


Four months ago a client of mine used this approach and their customer quickly signed up for the smaller “expand” deal.  My client performed so well on that initial deal that the customer quickly decided to move into a larger “expanded” business relationship.  The customer was able to quickly make this decision and garner the necessary funding because they knew what it would cost and the option they chose was built around an outcome the customer wanted to quickly achieve.  In other words, because each option was built around different business outcomes for the customer, it was easy for them to justify the expense and gain approval within their organization.


Here is another situation where providing options led to a faster deal.  Another client was faced with a real dilemma.  The prospective customer was not aligned internally on what they wanted to achieve.  There was a fairly divergent view of what the best approach might be and those different views were held by the business operations team and the IT organization of the customer. Of course, you can’t do one deal with operations and another with IT or another with procurement, so what can you do?


In this case, my client presented them with some options on how they might proceed.  By getting the business operations team and IT in the same room, and giving them some options to consider, both teams focused on the potential outcomes of the options and could discuss the merits of each.  This proved successful as it gave each team something to focus on rather than each other.  The result was a deal closed that met the important needs of both teams and achieved the critical outcomes.  In other words, the options got the two teams to focus more on the “What” they needed to achieve than to argue on the “How” they would achieve it.


If you are still providing your customers with only one option, then you are potentially adding unnecessary risk to your selling success.  Who knows, you might also be missing out on bigger and better deals.

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