When you only run 2 sales per year, making big money is supposed to be easy. Or at least that’s what you’d imagine. But if were to have looked at the total sales after the first 4 hours of our bi-annual sale, you would have thought we’d never done this before.
That’s what happens when you stare back at a whopping zero sales.
(Yep, zero. Allow that to sink in.)
Did we lose our ability to sell? Forget what works? Put out a shitty product?
No to all three—but we did make a fundamental error that is a valuable lesson for your business.
Why the Sale?
We make more money when we don’t promote or discount our coaching programs. For three years we’ve had a waitlist, and the average amount of time a client stays with us has increased almost threefold. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. So why offer a sale to begin with?
The answer is the ability to learn about our customer base and our own business model. Our initial struggles allowed us to look at changes we attempted to make compared to previous sales, and quickly understand the errors of our ways and prime ourselves for a big turnaround.
As they say, the only way to learn is by doing. So we run sales to learn what works, what doesn’t, and how people respond to different offers.
During the planning stages of the Memorial Day Sale we wanted to provide as many great deals as possible. We figured why not put the majority of our services at prices people would have a hard time saying no to? Originally we offered 4 discounted options on the sales page.
To bring everyone up to speed, our coaching model is different than most you see. Our model is not scalable in the sense that we pride ourselves on a very personalized, one-on-one approach that takes a great deal of time and calculation. By doing so we have built a model on scarcity and the promise that this program is worth the wait. Simultaneously we pride ourselves on having one of the most affordable online coaching models given the individualized attention. Even with our low price we never sacrifice value. It’s a unique model, one very similar to Amazon’s, since we are willing to sacrifice a lower margin for a longer customer value.
From No Sales to Undeniable Success
Now back to the sale. We launched and didn’t see a sale for the first 4 hours! We were definitely surprised. But rather than panic, we went back and discussed potential reasons for the poor opening performance. After the first 24 hours we had generated sales, but were still not seeing the numbers we had forecasted.
We then completely redesigned the sales page. We eliminated all but one item.
The thinking was simple: What if there were so many deals that people ended up choosing none?
The only way to find out was to test this hypothesis. Once we changed the sales page to only one item we saw conversions increase 180% in the next 24 hours. This was followed by another huge surge on the final day of the sale.
The reason for our success shouldn’t be all that surprising. In fact, research has shown too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. A study done by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University proves this exact point. The professor set up a study where they placed either 6 containers or 24 containers of jam in a section of a store and allowed people to try samples. What’s incredible is 30% of the customers who had sampled from the 6 containers purchased the jam, whereas only 3% of those who were subjected to 24 containers purchased the jam.
The point being that even though we make think our customers want more options—the reality may be just the opposite. If something isn’t working don’t overreact, but make sure you consider all factors that could be contributing to less than desirable sales. Each market is different and nothing is status quo. Remember that there is no right answer, rather a better solution to your problem.
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Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.