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 The Goldilocks Technique


Disciplines > Sales > Closing techniques > The Goldilocks Technique

Technique | How it works | See also



Have three options to recommend customers, each at a different price point.

Start with the most expensive one. This should be significantly more expensive than the other two options. Do not spend a lot of time here, but do mention how wonderful it is. Say it is probably a bit too much for the customer.

Then go to the cheapest one. Say you will not recommend this, for example as most people find it does not have enough features.

Then spend time on the middle one. The price of this should be closer to the cheaper option than the most expensive one. Talk about how this is the most popular model, how it has many useful features.

When they are interested in this middle option, test to see if you can trade them up to the more expensive model. You may even introduce a fourth option between the middle and expensive products, but be careful with this as customers may back away if there are too many choices.


This is our premium product. It's probably a bit far for you, but it does come with some amazing new features. We do have a stripped-down model but I can't really recommend it as you'll probably find it doesn't cover all that you need. Our most popular version is this one. It has many useful features and I think will work best for you.

How it works

The name of this method comes from the 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' story, where Goldilocks finds the house of the three bears and goes through a series of three items, choosing the moderate one. For example she finds one bowl of porridge too sweet, one too bitter and one just right.

Starting with the expensive option has a priming effect, anchoring the customer's mind on a high price. Recommending not to buy this helps build trust, showing you are not just trying to sell high. Yet saying they 'probably can't afford it' can create a reactive thought ('I decide what I can afford!').

Then switching to the cheap option triggers relief at a more affordable product, prompting mental closure on this. Using the trust just built, you can recommend against this too. This also builds trust as you indicate that some products are not worth their price.

The third, middle-priced product then becomes the natural choice. It has enough features and seems a good choice, especially compared with the other two options. It is not that more than the cheap product and significantly cheaper than the most expensive option.

Trading up may be an option if the customer seems affluent or are socially motivated. Many people buy expensive products not because they need them but because they think others will admire them and think they are rich (and consequently powerful).

See also

Doubt Close, Trust principle


Books on Sales Closing

**** Tom Hopkins, Sales Closing for Dummies, For Dummies, 1998  **** Zig Ziglar, Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale, Berkley Publishing, 1985  *** Stephan Schiffman, Closing Techniques: (That Really Work!), Adams Media, 1999  **** Stephan Schiffman, Getting to 'Closed': A Proven Program to Accelerate the Sales Cycle and Increase Commissions, Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2002  *** Joe Girard, Robert L. Shook, Robert Casemore, How to Close Every Sale, Warner books, 2002 ** Gary Karass, Negotiate to close: How to make more successful deals, Fireside, 1987

Sales Books

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