Three’s a Charm – Four’s an Alarm

How many positive claims (in a sales pitch) will produce the most positive impression in our product? There’s some science behind the answer and some FLIP’D strategies on coaching your team to higher performance.

Think … Three’s a charm but four’s an alarm!

This is based on research from Suzanne Chu (UCLA) and Kurt Carlson (Georgetown) who found when buyers know that the message source has a persuasion motive, the optimal number of positive claims is three.

Increasing the number of claims improves consumer perceptions until the fourth claim, at which point consumers’ persuasion knowledge causes them to view all the claims with skepticism. The studies explore this pattern, which the authors refer to as the “charm of three.” 

 While this is a “consumer” based research study — the B2B salesperson can take some key learning from this.

 For Marketers, Leaders, and even Sales Rep’s seeking an optimal message design, the critical question is:

Where is the tipping point at which additional claims (with the customer) undermine the effectiveness of all the claims?

 Leadership Takeaways and FLIP’D Coaching

Carlson and Shu’s research reveals that in settings where consumers know the source has a persuasion motive this tipping point will be the fourth claim. Accordingly, making three claims optimizes persuasion without triggering the skepticism and coping processes that undermine messages.

Ask your team members … how many claims to THEY make in a standard value or business presentation?

 The full study is linked above, if you’re a research nut — but the messaging is clear. Too many claims is probably not good.