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How To Be A Better Negotiator - Business Insider

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Borrow some tricks from restaurant menus

Borrow some tricks from restaurant menus


Excerpted from Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It):

Puzzles, anchors, stars, and plowhorses; those are a few of the terms consultants now use when assembling a menu (which is as much an advertisement as anything else). “A star is a popular, high-profit item—in other words, an item for which customers are willing to pay a good deal more than it costs to make,” Poundstone explains. “A puzzle is high-profit but unpopular; a plowhorse is the opposite, popular yet unprofitable. Consultants try to turn puzzles into stars, nudge customers away from plowhorses, and convince everyone that the prices on the menu are more reasonable than they look.” Poundstone uses Balthazar’s menu to illustrate these ideas.

1. The Upper Right-Hand Corner That’s the prime spot where diners’ eyes automatically go first. Balthazar uses it to highlight a tasteful, expensive pile of seafood. Generally, pictures of food are powerful motivators but also menu taboos—mostly because they’re used extensively in lowbrow chains like Chili’s and Applebee’s. This illustration “is as far as a restaurant of this caliber can go, and it’s used to draw attention to two of the most expensive orders,” Poundstone says.

2. The Anchor The main role of that $115 platter—the only three-digit thing on the menu—is to make everything else near it look like a relative bargain, Poundstone says.

3. Right Next Door At a mere $70, the smaller seafood platter next to Le Balthazar seems like a deal, though there’s no sense of how much food you’re getting. It’s an indefinite comparison that also feels like an indulgence—a win-win for the restaurant.

4. In The Vicinity The restaurant’s high-profit dishes tend to cluster near the anchor. Here, it’s more seafood at prices that seem comparatively modest.

5. Columns Are Killers According to Brandon O’Dell, one of the consultants Poundstone quotes in Priceless, it’s a big mistake to list prices in a straight column. “Customers will go down and choose from the cheapest items,” he says. At least the Balthazar menu doesn’t use leader dots to connect the dish to the price; that draws the diner’s gaze right to the numbers. Consultant Gregg Rapp tells clients to “omit dollar signs, decimal points, and cents … It’s not that customers can’t check prices, but most will follow whatever subtle cues are provided.”

6. The Benefit Of Boxes : “A box draws attention and, usually, orders,” Poundstone says. “A really fancy box is better yet. The fromages at the bottom of the menu are probably high-profit puzzles.”

7. Menu Siberia That’s where low-margin dishes that the regulars like end up. The examples here are the easy-to-miss (and relatively inexpensive) burgers.

8. Bracketing A regular trick, it’s when the same dish comes in different sizes. Here, that’s done with steak tartare and ravioli—but because “you never know the portion size, you’re encouraged to trade up,” Poundstone says. “Usually the smaller size is perfectly adequate.”

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There are a lot of tips in this article so it's worth reading multiple times. 

This one is memorable: "Order Effect Affects Orders"

The last time you bought a product online, you probably went through a logical analysis of alternative products, prices, features, and so on. And perhaps you really did. Research shows, however, that we are actually far from rational when we buy stuff online - a fact that no doubt that comes as little surprise to Neuromarketing readers. In fact, the order of presentation can be a huge factor in our final decision.

Research by Alexander Felfernig et al (Persuasive Recommendation: Serial Position Effects in Knowledge-Based Recommender Systems) tested web buying behavior of outdoor tents by presenting buyers with four choices arranged in a horizontal row. Each tent had unique characteristics. The researchers varied the order of presentation for each buyer so that they could evaluate the effect of the order of presentation. (A mention in Neuro Web Design led me to this research.)

In a truly startling result, the first choice presented was chosen 2.5 times more often than any other. Despite the fact that the tents varied in their shape, their degree of waterproofing, and other presumably important characteristics, the order of presentation was by far the most critical variable in the selection process. How’s that for logical decision-making?

Naturally, the subjects were all able to rationalize their irrational decision – they chose the best value, the most waterproof, and so on. As is typical when our conscious brains try to explain why we do things, the reasons are seemingly convincing even if mostly bogus.

What does this mean from a practical web site design standpoint? Well, for one, you could put the product you’d most like to sell in front of the others. Perhaps it’s your most profitable product, or the one in which you hold the most inventory.

From a more customer-oriented standpoint, I’d recommend putting your most attractive product up front – the one which offers the best combination of value and performance, for example. This should maximize the chance of an order actually being placed, and should also be the most likely to create a good customer experience (and repeat orders).

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