Sales Principle One: Norm of Reciprocity
By Craig Ball Filed in Sales Psychology Tagged with Psychology, Sales March 2nd, 2009 @ 11:13 pm 0 COMMENTS
http://www.okollie.com When someone does a favor for you, what is your most natural reaction? If you are like me, you want to pay back the favor—to reciprocate. This hidden social rule for behavior is true across cultures, and is called the norm of reciprocity. A norm is a social expectation that we all unconsciously agree to. Its not usually written down, but we learn it through observation, and it becomes part of what we consider “normal.” We feel guilty when we violate an important social norm—as if we are letting people down. This guilt can also spur consumer behaviors. One of the reasons why we want to reciprocate favors is that we want to maintain a feeling of equality in our relationships (equity theory). Another reason is that we hold an unconscious belief that we have a certain responsibility towards others in our community. This may be why it is so effective when you offer a cheap or free service to a potential customer. When I was working at a pizza place at the age of fourteen, we gave out free samples of pizza to passers by. During college, I was offered a free weekend in Breckenridge if I would attend a presentation on time sharing for a condo. After college, a financial adviser offered me a “free” profile (allegedly worth $1000) in exchange for allowing him to do a presentation in my home.
Sometimes we even feel this obligation to return the favor if we just see that the other person is making some kind of concession for us. This may be why the door-in-the-face tactic works so well. With this strategy, you make a request of the customer that they will likely turn down (you don’t actually want them to accept this initial offer). When they refuse, you immediately follow up with, “That’s understandable. But would you be willing to do this instead?” The second offer seems much easier to accommodate because it requires less risk, less investment, or less time of the customer. The contrast effect is called a perceptual contrast. There are theories about why the door-in-the-face works so well. One theory is that we feel guilty for turning the salesperson down for the initial favor, and when they ask the second favor, they seem to be making a concession. Therefore, we want to reciprocate the favor. This effect has been shown to increase the amount of volunteer work college students will donate to a soup kitchen for the homeless. It had also led home-owners to allow researchers to place a huge billboard in their front lawn for two weeks! It is surprising how helpful we all want to be. This gives me a little hope for humanity, after all. We salespeople are just helping the customer to know what they want to buy. They will buy something anyway. It might as well be our products. To read more go to: http://www.okollie.com