Most sellers think more is always better. Options, that is. If you can offer more options, you remove all potential barriers to closing the deal, right? At some point, however, the buying process becomes unnecessarily complicated and pushes your prospect into a state of dazed indecisiveness.

GM makes 62 models of consumer cars and trucks for the US market (and that’s after GM killed off Saturn, Oldsmobile and Pontiac). Honda makes 19. Annual sales? GM – $150 billion, Honda – $96 billion. Given the high cost of developing and marketing each car model, I’m sure you can guess which company enjoys higher profit margins.

Let’s look at another example. Say you’re buying a new laptop. (I bought a new one just a couple months ago.)  Your product search for “laptop” on Amazon produces 17,598 results. You need just one, and you’ve got more than 17,000 – yes that’s seventeen thousand – from which to choose. The number of your options exceeds the number of people who live in Johnston, Iowa (population 17,552). To make matters worse, each model has a myriad of options.

Now, we all love Amazon because it sells so many products that you can find almost anything you need to buy. But that also means it can be incredibly hard to figure out which product is right for you if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Remember that you are looking for one perfect laptop and you’re not sure you will recognize it when you see it. You might have better luck finding your long-lost uncle by going door to door in Johnston.

I ended up going with a Lenovo product. They’re well-built and I’ve had good experience with them. Once I decided on a Lenovo, though, I still had dozens of decisions ahead of me. First, I had to pick a model – there are 13 from which to choose. Then I had to decide:

  • How fast of a processor?
  • What type of graphics card?
  • How large of a monitor? Should it be HD, backlit?
  • What type of wi-fi radio antennas?
  • What size hard drive – 320GB, 500GB, 128GB, or 180GB?
  • Solid date or ATA hard drive?
  • Which operating system – Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8, or Windows 8 Professional?
  • What about an optical drive?
  • Which camera?
  • What type of pointing device?
  • How long of a battery life?
  • How much RAM?  One stick or two?

You get the point.

All told, it took 33 decisions – not including sub-decisions – to buy a laptop.

Remember, it’s just a computer. Most customers will buy it to do what it was built for, not because of the parts inside of it. Most people just want to surf the web and run their software on a reliable machine. Same goes for cars – motorheads excepted, most customers don’t want to make a decision about everything under the hood.  Just give me a car that works, they say.

How are you presenting your products and services to clients? Are you giving them too many options?  Could decision paralysis be hurting your sales?