I’ve never been quite sure why I hate it so much. I love good food, and I enjoy cooking good food. I’ve never been able to figure out the disconnect between the food and the shopping.

We’ve got a great grocery store here that I’ve enjoyed more than any other. They have awesome customer service, a great meat department, and consistently fantastic produce. After making the commitment to shop there, despite higher prices, I actually started hating shopping a little less.

Then after many years of begging, pleading, and generally whining as a community, we got a Trader Joe’s. Now, I’m going to admit – I didn’t get it. I didn’t realize exactly what it was and thought it was a specialty shop that would have to become another stop on the dreaded shopping trips.

I gave it a try and to my surprise came to realize that they are a full grocery store. And I actually liked it! TJ’s quickly became my go-to store even though they are across town from me, and I have to go past a handful of other stores to get there.

But why?? I still didn’t know, but I knew that it worked for me.

I was discussing this with my mom, who has been a Trader Joe's fan for many years, and she very clearly knew the answer – they don’t overwhelm you with choices. If you want baking soda, you buy the one baking soda offered on the shelf. Period. If you want canned corn, you pick up the one available can.

See, they’ve done the hard work for you. They know what basic items you need and they find the best provider to deliver you the best solution. You simply have to go collect it.

They don’t overwhelm you with 10 different kinds and brands of corn. In a typical grocery, store every decision is actually an entire series of decisions to just choose the one thing you want.

While it may seem like a good idea to let people know about the laundry list of offerings you have and then let them choose, it’s just overwhelming and often leads to a non-decision. Sticking with what they’ve got – even if it’s not working all that well – is better than having to wade through the piles of options and educate themselves about your business and offerings in order to make the best decision.

Remember – the client is hiring you to be the expert. They expect and WANT you to play that role. Do the research, do the vetting, and provide them with the best solution to solve their need. If you make them do the work to make the choice, you’re no longer the expert or a trusted business advisor – you’re simply a vendor.

Next time you’re going to present your plan offering to your prospect, do the Trader Joe’s test:

“Am I being the expert and offering the best solution that will improve their business? Or am I simply compiling available options, not taking a stand on any one, and leaving the prospect with the job of research and decision-making?”


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Photo by antoniodiaz