How Data Hurts The Sale

About 8 years ago I bought a ski home in Vail. I’m  a huge skier and always wanted a second home in the mountains. When the time came to buy, I knew Vail is where I wanted to be. I knew my price range. I knew how many bedrooms and how big of a home. That was it. I didn’t know anything else.

While driving a friend to California, I stopped and saw two places. I made an offer on the second place. That was it. I made the decision in less than 3 hours after seeing only two homes.

That single decision has been one of the best decision I’ve ever made. No matter how I measure the decision; fun, financial return, compatability, TCO (total cost of ownership), convenience, it still nets out as a killer decision.

How is it that I made a decision as big as a second home with almost no data? How is it I made a commitment of this magnitude without more information? How is it this monumental decision turned out so well with so little data. Conventional wisdom says to make a list and prioritize, see lots of homes, compare and evaluate, look for the best price, find the best neighborhood, etc. I didn’t listen to conventional wisdom. I knew I found the home I wanted the minute I saw it. It was the right decision.

It turns out our brain doesn’t like lots of information.  The prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that makes rational decisions, can only handle so much information before it starts going on the fritz.  Give the brain too much data and it starts to fall over. Our brains, if given too much to consider, will fail to get it right. The brain has a hard time knowing what information is important and which isn’t when it gets overloaded.

It’s amazing how perfectly intelligent people will make foolish decisions if you give them lots of irrelevant stuff to consider.

Dr. John  Sarno, New York University Medical Center

When we try to engage too much information our brain can’t handle it and begins to desert us. Our greatest assest becomes a liability.

As sales people we want to inundate our prospects and clients with data. We attempt to influence their decisions with reasoning and as much information as we can. Wisdom tells us to provide more and more information until it “makes sense.”  This is flawed thinking. In actuality, the more information we give our customers and prospects to consider the greater the chance they don’t go with our solution. Even more disturbing, the more information we give customers and prospects, the greater the probability they don’t make a good rational choice for themselves.

We live in a society we’re data is revered. With this reverence comes the desire for more and more data. Unfortunately, the more information we take in the less valuable it is to making a decision. Information has diminish return and then it has a negative return. That’s when it hurts us.

When dealing with customers and prospects don’t overload them.

  1. Keep it simple, don’t make it complex
  2. Attach all information to an emotional need, make it emotional
  3. Provide less information, provide on an as needed basis only
  4. Don’t provide superfluous or irrelevant information. Make sure it is extremely targeted!
  5. Stay focused on what is important
Data is good in small doses. The brain isn’t a glutton for information. Use data sparingly, else it will cost you the deal.


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