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Intuitive and counter-intuitive thinking – an analogy

Before we describe the thought process behind making commitments, read the following short profiles of two wine sellers and determine which one you would buy from and why.

Jim: Jim is a wine salesman in the Le Grape Restaurant, a fancy establishment in a large city. Jim enjoys selling wine and uses the following sales process:

  1. Mention to each customer that the finest wines in the restaurant are the two most expensive wines on the wine list.

  2. Always tell each customer that the wines in the middle of the wine list had a bad year last year and should not be considered.

  3. Explain that the least expensive wines are really not worthy of the patron's time, but are included to make the list complete.

Jane: Jane is a wine sales person at the Panache Restaurant, a fancy establishment in a large city. Jane's sales process is:

  1. Mention to each customer that the first two wines on the list (the most expensive) are excellent, but the third and fourth listed taste equally as good and are considerably less expensive than the first two.

  2. Tell each customer that the wines in the middle of the list are very good, except for number 12, which actually had a bad year last year (the truth).

  3. Explain that the least expensive wines at the bottom of the list are grocery-store quality, except for the one at the very bottom that tastes "cheap."

  4. Offer the customer a sample of any of the wines before purchase.

  5. Give each customer the one-page review by Wine Critique magazine.

With which wine salesperson would you want to do business? We have yet to meet someone that prefers Jim over Jane. Why? Because Jane is focused on the customer's agenda rather than hers, and when she puts herself in their shoes, she knows that customers want to be provided with credible information, educated about possibilities, and undersold rather than oversold. Initial intuition might tell us that sales are maximized by Jim's approach, i.e., sell more expensive wines. Counter-intuition would lead to Jane's approach, since that is the way individuals want to be treated. This treatment, in turn, creates repeat business.

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