When there is left over food at your office, I doubt that there are any questions about what will be eaten for lunch that day. However, if its a Sunday night and I’m trying to figure out what to order from Seamless, I will stare at a screen like I’m trying to decide what to watch on Netflix for an hour.
Choice is a funny thing. The problem with having a plethora of options is that it makes it tough to sift through the noise and decide what is really important. The same can be said for prospects and pitches. You need to simplify your message and focus on the one or two key factors that will make that individual on the other end want to focus on you and not an endless Chinese Menu of options.
In May of last year, our Head of Strategy Michael Brenner, wrote that, “According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. That’s right, goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds – 1 second more than you and I.“
How are you supposed to catch the eye of someone who’s attention span is less than a goldfish?
The answer is actually quite simple: it is by simplifying your message! You do not need to include every single aspect of your company’s product roadmap, feature set, recent funding, client base, or use-case in your content – that is a silly philosophy and one that ends in lazy templatized conversations.
Instead, we need to focus on simplifying the message and doing our homework. Make sure that you are diagnosing what the main pain point is and that you are communicating to the prospect exactly how you’re going to make their life easier. By presenting someone with 15 different features and problems you can solve for, you just end up selling against yourself. Marketers want to use technology that is going to solve problems, not create new questions. Narrowing options will allow you to feel more confident about your choices you do have to make.
Diving further into the science behind my methodology is human nature as it relates to choice. Traditional logic suggests that if you present a prospect with every single feature and a myriad of options, they will do the research on their own and feel good about what they are buying. As it turns out, in many cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The human brain wants options, but only up to a point.
Sheena Iyengar, the author of “The Art of Choosing,” hypothesizes that, “The presence of choice might be appealing as a theory, but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.” In other words, do not revert to information overload. Do your research, and provide a few key options to solve your prospect’s challenges. Do not throw the book at them simply because your marketing team just released a new 50 slide deck – it will never get read.
New York Times columnist Alina Tugend uses the example of choosing your 401k. We all know that its smart to invest but research shows that as investment options for individuals increase, the number of people who participate actually decreases. Fewer choices = Higher Participation. According to Tugend, “Research also shows that an excess of choices often leads us to be less, not more, satisfied once we actually decide. There’s often that nagging feeling we could have done better.” Sound familiar?
So do your homework and be confident that you know the single greatest thing that you can provide someone. If you can convince someone that they have to have just ONE thing that you’re offering, a lot of the time, that one thing is enough. Don’t paralyze your prospect or yourself through choice. Figure out how to simplify the message and don’t dilute it with white noise. Remember, if you want to start by selling more, start by selling less.