The Simple Sales Strategy that Boosts Your Bottom Line

image of two starfish

Choice is a good thing.

Too much choice can be a bad thing.

It can confuse customers and cause them to abandon your sales process early.

So, what if you’re selling several (or many) products or services?

You know you want to make compelling offers, and that email is a great place to put those offers in front of your potential customers. But how do you give equal attention to each, or guide your prospects to the product that will best work for them?

The answer I’ve found, after extensive testing, is the Two-Option Sales Strategy for your email marketing.

It offers the perfect balance between too much and not enough. It’s simple to execute. And of all the variations I’ve tried, this is the one that has worked best.

What is the Two-Option Sales Strategy?

You’ve probably seen it in many newsletters, but never really paid close enough attention to it.

If you really look at this strategy in action, you’ll see that there is more than a single offer being made at one time.

In most newsletters (unless we’re creating urgency, for example we have a limited-edition launch) there are two offers made right in front of our eyes at the very top of the page.

For example:

Offer 1: Product 1

Offer 2: Product 2

Then, at the bottom of the newsletter, the same offer is repeated.

So why not just one offer? Why two?

The standard logic is that one offer is good enough.

Many contend that it prevents clients from getting distracted … and that’s exactly right.

But in some cases, your business is operating on limited marketing bandwidth. That means you can only send out so many newsletters, direct mailings, or emails every month.

In that limited bandwidth, you have two types of customers

You have customers who have probably already decided they don’t want to buy a particular product you have to offer. So let’s say they’ve already decided that Product 1 isn’t for them.

Um, you know what comes next, don’t you?

Yes, they buy Product 2.

And there’s also the situation where your customer has already purchased Product 1 earlier. If this is the case, their eyes will usually automatically skim right past Product 1 and head to Product 2.

You’re hitting two birds with one stone here. You’re giving each customer (who are at a different places in the purchasing process) exactly what they want.

Aren’t you confusing the customer by making two offers?

Contrary to what you may believe, your sales will actually go up.

With two distinct offers, rather than asking themselves Should I buy or not? clients tend instead to ask Which one do I want? Once they’ve made their choice, off they go to your sales page.

If you’ve put together a strong landing page with the right copywriting strategy, they’ll probably buy.

So, should you always have the same two products consistently, or can you add and remove products from the menu?

If you have something new, then use the Product 1 spot for your best-selling product and Product 2 slot for a new product.

And yes, be sure to put the word “New” or “Announcing” right next to the name of the product. A simple addition of the word “New” makes customers look more intently.

Of course, you may be tempted to turn up the heat a bit and take the Two-Option Sales Strategy and turn it into a Three-Option Sales Strategy. And I say, “goodonya mate!” Go for it. Don’t listen to me. Try it for yourself. Maybe it will work.

What works best for my company is this simple Two-Option method
 … and it’s worked exceedingly well over the years.

Try it for yourself — and see the results.

About the Author: Sean D’Souza offers a great free report on ‘Why Headlines Fail’ when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Be sure to check out his blog, too.

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Reader Comments (18)

  1. says

    Oddly enough, I’ve heard this before. In a place you might not expect.

    Remember “The Matrix”?

    *** Spoiler Warning, if you’ve been living under a multimedia rock***

    The Matrix gave people a choice on a near-unconscious level to believe in the digital simulation projected into their heads, or not. Most people went for it. Neo didn’t.

    So, as long as you’re not pitching a two-option sales strategy to ‘The One,’ I’d say it’s a pretty rock-solid method, Sean.

    Thanks for the ideas.

  2. says

    Hmmmm this seems new to me. I have two free offers to my subscribers on one of my sites… I think it does well. On sales? Maybe it could. I should test it out on future email blasts.

    p.s. Frank Kern does offer one product with multiple links to it. How about that? 😀

    • says

      When making a focused single-item promotion (usually limited in some way), it makes sense to link several times in one email to the same product. Totally different concept though.

      • says

        It would probably only work if you have Lots of subs. I still only have 128 or so. Conversion won’t be very good on that right?

        • says

          At 128 subscribers, your focus should be on building the number of people who know about you and want to know more. You can still make offers to those 128, but even if your conversion percentage was fabulous, the total number may not be that exciting. :)

          At this point, I’d probably stick to making single offers regularly but not too frequently (to train those new subscribers that you do make offers, that that’s part of the deal) and put your focus on attracting more qualified buyers and getting them engaged with you. In other words, you’re still in the Attract phase of the Attract-Engage-Convert process.

  3. says

    Re: “rather than asking themselves Should I buy or not? clients tend instead to ask Which one do I want?”

    I can see how they’d do that. Interesting concept and worth a shot. For me, I have to tighten up my landing pages :-)

  4. says

    I am a shopper. And that last bit about having a choice works for me because I do say, “which one do I want?”

    It is a bit ironic that when we create our newsletters we might not keep in mind what works for us as consumers.

  5. says

    Great strategy. I’ll be sure to implement it into my own sales strategy. Using two products instead of one make a lot of sense.

  6. says

    I agree wholeheartedly with not offering too many choices. Making a decision is hard enough without having to decide between 100 flavors.

    I went to a Gelato shop in Malibu about a month ago that literally has over 100 flavors. So which one did I choose? I chose to leave because so many choices was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start looking.

    For an e-mail campaign, you don’t want customers to not know where to start looking or what the e-mail is about. I always thought that this meant giving one and only one option, but after reading this, I’m going to test out the two option method. The logic is sound, and Sean seems like a guy who knows what he’s doing.

  7. says

    Yes, totally agree with you. Some neuroscientists confirm that when human offered two options, they will ask which to buy rather than should I buy. The strategy applied in shopping mall as well.

    Anyway, great article. At least remind me something I have read but never apply on email marketing. :)

    • says

      You see it in catalogs as well. I get certain catalogs and sit down with them with the mindset, “Of these things I could buy, which one will I choose?”

      If I don’t get the catalog, the only time I buy is when I actually need something, which doesn’t come up that often.

      People like me are why direct mail will never die. :)

  8. says

    This makes perfect sense. Having two offers will get the customers attention to at least one of them. And when reading an article it seems like you already read it before, so you know what’s coming next. That’s why many people tend to skim and go down to the point where the product is offered, the product that they are interested in.

  9. Dr. Naquib says

    Good blog that teaches selling who are to sell as the first experience.
    Sean, I like you alliterative sound—

    “It can confuse customers and cause them to abandon your sales process early.”

    Can we avoid the word “thing” ? To me, it is the most vague word in the language.

    You say–

    Choice is a good thing.

    Too much choice can be a bad thing.

    We can say
    For example, Making a single choice is good, but making too many is bad.

    ‘Thing” is now avoided. What do you think, dear Sean?

  10. says

    Great post Sean…

    I will have to add it to my marketing bag of tricks when I have a product to offer.


    I like your writing style and how you said:

    “And I say, “goodonya mate!” Go for it. Don’t listen to me. Try it for yourself. Maybe it will work.”

    Making the case that until your test your stuff you won’t know if you have a home run on your hands or a complete bomb.

  11. says

    Good article Sean. My management team and I have been discussing for weeks the option of deploying a second service option for prospective customers. Up until know we have always offered 1 level of service with just a couple different pricing options, but never a second service option. I had never thought about using our newsletter to deploy our new service option with a lower price point. This might be a great way to capture more market share. Thanks for the pointers!

  12. says

    What about 3 offers? I’ve always heard that 3 is the optimal number because it moves buyers from the least expensive product to the second most expensive. Which in turn means a better bottom line.

  13. says

    Very interesting strategy Sean.

    “With two distinct offers, rather than asking themselves Should I buy or not? clients tend instead to ask Which one do I want?” This is especially important in any good sales process.

    To get your potential customer to begin visualizing your offer within their company is a step in the right purchasing direction. It seems by giving them two offers to evaluate, as you suggested, this drives the customer to make those visualizations.

    I do wonder though, does this strategy vary with the type of service or product that you are offering? Or can this be a template for most, if not all, products or services?

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