The Universal Truth of Selling on the Web: Simple Wins

Universal Truth Of Selling On The Web: Simple WinsChoices are great on a menu, but too many choices on your website or landing page or even within your products can cause indecision. Too many choices can lead to confusion, and when you’re in the business of trying to make a sale, confusion is the enemy. What’s the opposite of confusion? The answer is easy. The best way to make things easy? Keep them simple.

Often we’re too focused on giving our customers too much. When you go to the barber, he doesn’t give you a menu of haircuts. You sit down, tell him simply what you’d like done, he pulls out his tools and cuts your hair. All very quickly and without fuss, which is the reason most men still prefer to go to a barber rather than a “salon”: It’s simple.

Now, if you were to sit in that same barber’s chair and he gave you a 20-question survey about what type of hairstyle you prefer before he started cutting, you’d not only be annoyed, but most likely never go to him again.

Let’s look at an online example to further prove the point. Imagine you’re visiting the e-commerce store of your favorite pet supply retailer. You need a new collar for your Labrador, Bella. Upon arriving at the site’s dog collar section, you find 20 different types and brands of collars. There are fancy collars, cheap collars, chain collars, collars for small and big dogs, collars with diamond studs on them, fashionable collars, and many more. Whew… you’re faced with lots of choices.

“Great,” you say. “I love it that this store has so many choices, I came to the right place.”

But perhaps it’s not so great. Having too many choices might be a problem. You just wanted to get a collar. You were ready to buy one. But now, well, you’ve found out that there a lot of decisions you need to make before you buy one. You think to yourself, “I had no idea there were so many collars. I like so many of them, I don’t know what to choose.”

So you didn’t buy. You were ready to, but you didn’t. Chances are this has happened to you at some point in your buying life, and chances are what happened was that you were ready to decide, but the explosion of choices either confused you, or made you realize that you weren’t ready to decide. Effective sales and marketing is all about helping the customer make a decision, and simplicity is necessary to make that happen.

Here are some ways your site might be confusing customers:

  • Poor navigation so your customer has to figure where to go
  • A poor unique value proposition (UVP)
  • Too many choices of products and services without a clear indication of which one is the right choice for the customer
  • Tons of drawn-out copy that nobody wants to read
  • Requiring a customer to register before they can buy from you

Are you guilty of overcomplicating customers’ choices on your website? Think about ways you can make it simple–and you’ll find that making the sale gets much easier.


    Jim Kukral Jim Kukral is a professional speaker, blogger and Web business consultant who has helped small businesses and large companies like Fedex, Sherwin Williams, Ernst & Young and Progressive Auto Insurance understand how find success on the Web. His latest book is "Internet Marketing for Business Answers."

    10 Reactions
    1. Another important point is to sell to a select target audience. One that has a need, want and urgency for your product or service. By virtue of doing this, you eliminate most of the confusion in the online sales process. I wrote an article about selling to ideal customers you can read at John Anghelache.

    2. Thanks, Jim!

      Great reminders, for sure.

      “Register before buying a product?”


      The Franchise King

    3. Nice post..Thanks Jim,
      (Requiring a customer to register before they can buy from you)..In some cases I disagree especially when the product is software and there is a trial or demo here capturing a lead is an essential step toward achieving the purchase decision later, but for sure capturing forms should be short and offering useful freebie.
      Thanks again for the post I enjoyed reading it..
      Have a great day

    4. Firas, you’re right, when talking about stuff like digital downloads and software that could be a problem.

    5. My favorite example of this is the menu at In-N-Out burger. They only have a handful of items (making for a very simple menu) but you can customize a lot through their “secret” menu. This makes a very simple experience for a first-timer, but veterans know about the additional options.

    6. Martin Lindeskog

      Jim, I recently listened to a speech on web usability by a company called inUse. It was fascinating and scary to see how you could find web sites and ecommerce online shops with strange navigation, contstraints in the supply chain, etc.

    7. Nice article, it makes you think.

      We do make people register to purchase but it is brief, name and email, then if they are ordering (as the goods are physical) we need a delivery address.

      I think it may be as much about expectations. If its going to be delivered we need to know who to deliver to and where. Most people would expect that.

    8. Hello,
      nice article, that reminds me of Pareto’s law.
      Based on my experience, I can subscribe every word of this article.
      I used to offer every possible option just to find out that 1 covers almost 90% of customer needs.
      And the results at the end are better than before!