Stage One – Cultivating a Positive Association

Reciprocity and Liking


Reciprocity: If we do a favor for another person they will feel obliged to return it. There is strong social pressure to square up. Interestingly, a small initial favor can lead to much bigger return favor.

Sales Tip: Be the first to give and make it personalized and unexpected. For example, it’s nice to give a chotskie of some kind, but it’s even better to give it in a personalized way. Maybe with a handwritten note thanking them for their time or purchase. There are many other ways to do this.

Story: in a recent study looking at restaurants, one mint yielded 3% more tip. Two mints yielded 14% more tip. But the interesting part of this study is when the waiter said “We usually give one mint, but for you wonderful people, I gave you two”, tips increased 23%.

Liking: We find it much more difficult to say no when a request comes from our friends. You can make somebody like by using a few simple techniques: be around them to create a feeling of familiarity, point out similarities between you, mirror their behavior, do small favors for them, and show that you like them.

Sales Tip: When looking to create rapport with your customer, look for three categories, similarities, compliment them, cooperate to achieve a goal. Certainly, a casual conversation will bring you to some similar characteristics. When initializing a discovery, compliment them on doing a good job thus far with their deployment, and lastly don’t leave the meeting without coming to a consensus of a goal but also positioning yourself to help them achieve it.

Story: In a study with MBA students studying negotiating tactics, the first group was told “Time is Money”, get right to it. Fifty-five percent came to an agreement. The second group was told to find a similarity to each other before negotiating. Ninety percent came to an agreement AND the outcomes were typically 18% more to each other’s benefits.


Stage Two – Reducing Uncertainty

Social Proof and Authority

Social Proof: We have a tendency to assume that other people know what’s right and correct. The effect will be stronger in moments of high uncertainty, the more people engage in a particular behavior, and the more similar or the more we want to be associated with that group.

Sales Tip: An effective way to demonstrate our abilities through social proof is to be specific and personalized in our description of our effectiveness. For example, when discussing a success with a healthcare customer, it might be beneficial to suggest that most successful healthcare customers have a certain configuration. Most successful healthcare customers utilize the product in a certain way. If we can be even more specific the better, for example, your number one competitor utilizes this product in an effective way (fill in the blanks).

Story: I’m sure you’ve stayed in hotel rooms where they have a sign that says please consider reusing your towels for the benefit of the environment. Compliance of that reuse is usually about 35%. By changing a few words, such as “75% of our guests reuse their towels sometime during their stay” increased the reuse by 26%. However, by adding three words, “75% of our guests in this room, reuse their towels sometime during their stay” that increase was over 33% reuse.

Authority: We are wired to follow authority. Our whole lives we are though to follow them: first your parents, then teachers and then the law, police, and government. This is why we are much more likely to say yes to a favor coming from a person of authority.

Sales Tip: Credentialing yourself does not have to come from yourself. Others credentialing you is far better. ‘Others’ could be people or things. Doctors that had their diplomas on the wall of their consulting rooms had better compliance from their patients when it came to exercising. Maybe send your LinkedIn profile or an article you wrote. Sales reps present themselves as people that were assigned to the account. Present yourself as the best person to solve your customers’ problem.

Story: One realtor instructed the telephone receptionist to give the caller the credentials of the people she was going to connect them to. “You are looking to rent an apartment, let me connect you to Sandra, she has over 15 years of experience in the rental market you are interested in”. Appointments increased 20% and contacts increased 15% with this simple technique.


Stage Three – Motivating Action

Consistency and Scarcity

Consistency: Once we commit to something, we stick to it. We feel pressure to be consistent with our initial behavior. It takes more energy to break with the initiated behavior – if you ever tried to quit smoking or stop eating unhealthy foods, you know exactly what I’m talking about. To get another person to behave in a way you want them, ask them to take a small initial step in that direction. These small steps are all that is needed to create commitment after which you can ask for another step, this time bigger and bigger and you will keep hearing yes from your prospects.

Sales Tip: Have your customer commit to small, things like a phone call, a meeting, a day workshop, and so on. Start small and look for voluntary, active, and public commitment.

Story: One healthcare provider reduced missed appointments by 18% simply by having the patient write down the details of their next appointment on an appointment card which would be mailed to them.

Scarcity: When something becomes scarce, we desire it more. It is linked to our aversion to losing If something is in limited quantities or available only for a limited time, we feel we need to hurry to get it or we might lose a chance to do so forever.

Sales Tip: It is not enough to talk about the benefits of our products and services, but we must also what is unique and what they stand to lose if they do not consider our proposal.

Story: In 2003, British Airways announced that they would no longer service the London to New York Concord flights twice a day as it had become uneconomical to do so. The very next day, sales soared to the highest since the inception of this service.