• Bill Petrie

Do Your Clients Have CFD?

Curing them of "Cheesecake Factory Disorder"

One of my least favorite restaurants in the world is The Cheesecake Factory. It’s not that I’m not fond of cheesecake – my belly will tell you that I am. My issue with The Cheesecake Factory is the sheer size of the menu and the absurd amount of choices available. As its website states, “with over 250 menu items and more than 50 signature cheesecakes and desserts, there is truly ‘something for everyone’ at The Cheesecake Factory.”

While accurate, I find the number of choices overwhelming, making it difficult for me to decide on a dish. I feel more pressure trying to figure out what to order by the time the server comes back for a third time than Sgt. Martin Riggs did when attempting to figure out the correct sequence to cut the wires to defuse a bomb in Lethal Weapon 3. When I finally decide on my meal, I feel a brief sense of relief which is quickly overshadowed by the feeling I ordered the wrong thing. There are so many options that I feel depressed afterward thinking about all the things I could have had but didn’t because I could order only one thing out of so many.

I much prefer a “less is more” approach to a restaurant experience – and I’m not alone. Over the past five years, the nation’s 20 fastest growing restaurants (Five Guys, Chipotle, BurgerFi, Shake Shack) have developed focused, almost minimal, menus. This “less is more” approach leads to lower costs, efficient service, higher profits, and excellent customer experience.

Distributors have access to well over 1.2 million different products from more than 7,000 suppliers in the promotional products industry. Because of this, distributor salespeople often inundate their target audience with dozens – if not hundreds – of merchandise options in the same product category, believing that more choices will generate more sales. Unfortunately, the reality is that the prospect becomes so overloaded with options that the sales journey grinds to a screeching halt. I call this the “Cheesecake Factory Disorder,” and it’s something every salesperson needs to guard against.

The more options there are during the sales process, the more questions that are likely to be raised in the client’s mind. The more questions that are grown in the mind of the client, the slower the sales journey becomes.

Instead of burying your target audience with options, limit merchandise offerings to only the most popular, necessary options – the ones that you believe will genuinely help them solve their marketing problem. If your client wants more choices, they will ask for them. Conversely, clients will rarely ask for less choice and will remain silent even as they are overwhelmed.

At best, too much choice in a sales transaction slows down the client’s journey because they will be overwhelmed and be unsure of which product to choose. At worst, the client will experience the feeling of buyer’s remorse after the purchase as they regret their decision. In either case, an overpowering amount of choices does the opposite of the intent: it increases the amount of friction in the transaction and makes the purchasing journey painful for the client.

In a sales transaction, too many choices will stall the purchasing journey. By focusing on being Five Guys in a Cheesecake Factory world, you accelerate the sales process and significantly decrease the possibility of buyer’s remorse.

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