The author, Robert Cialdini, has got it all figured out (here he is in Wikipedia). He wrote a book called The Psychology of Persuasion. In it, he talks about the 6 principles of persuasion. The first principle is reciprocity – the idea that if you give something to someone, they feel a compelling need to give back to you. The beauty of Cialdini is he doesn’t just talk the talk. He cites study after study where “paying it forward” will get you great results.
How do we translate the concept of reciprocity into increased sales? Before I answer that question, let me share one of Cialdani’s case studies:
This was a study of waiters in restaurants. The concept behind this test was to see if the waiters could influence the size of their tips by providing something extra, or unexpected, to the diners in addition to good service. In a controlled test, they had waiters provide a mint on the tray they provided with the tab. They found that with the tabs they supplied a mint; they got a little larger tip. As a matter of fact, they found that when they added additional mints for everyone at the table and personally delivered the mint to each diner, they got even greater tips. They also discovered that it was even more effective when it looked like it was spontaneous or unexpected. They also found that it was even more effective if delivered with sincerity. “I like to provide my best customers with something special (as the waiter would circle the table and place a mint in front of each diner, making eye contact with each). Thank you very much for dining with us tonight. You made it enjoyable to be your server tonight.”
Those of us that are successful are not here by mistake. Some of us are naturals and others of us (like me) have to really work at it. But this stuff works.
Here, per Cialdani, are some ways you can increase your sales:
1. At networking events – always make it a practice to be a giver. Always give prior to expecting to receive. Look for ways to provide leads for others, for instance, if you want them to do the same for you. And the more you get the reputation of being a giver, the more you will receive; even if it is not at that moment and even if it is not from that person.
2. In opening sales calls – always offer something of value in the beginning to get things started. In most cases I am referring to information, but in some circumstances it might be a small physical gift. Why do you think the route sales industry makes it a practice to offer a gift in order to get the appointment? It’s because it works. I always like to look at an initial meeting like this. I want to be able to provide some tidbit of information that the person I am seeing will find valuable, even if we agree not to move forward. I even incorporate a description of this valuable information into my script as the reason we should get together in the first place. The worst thing that should happen is that the person says to you, “I really don’t think it makes sense for us to move forward, Barry, but this was a valuable investment of my time. Thank you for coming by.” Remember, one of the reasons suspects agree to see us in the first place is that they know we bring information. The smart ones know they learn from us.
3. When providing a service that is appreciated by your prospect or customer you’ll have a moment of power that is perfect, even if it is expected, but particularly when it seems like you went above and beyond. A good example of this is customer service to fix a problem.
4. When people say no to you, interestingly enough, you’ll have a moment of power right at that point, so don’t shortchange yourself when asking for the original sale. Ask for more than you think you’ll get. Why?
a. Sometimes you’ll be surprised and get it
b. Even if they say no to that offer, you then have a moment of power to ask for something lesser. “If solution ‘A’ doesn’t work for you, you might want to choose what most of my clients opt for, which still covers what we’ve been talking about and allows for the flexibility to add to add the additional capabilities at a later date…”
c. When you provide outstanding service, you also have a moment of power to ask for something in return – reference, referrals, a press release, etc. – be prepared to ask and don’t ‘bungle’ those opportunities
Do yourself and buy his book. No matter what your job is, you will find it very insightful. Here is a link to the book at Amazon.
Have a great day.