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Reciprocity and the power to persuade

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Reciprocity and the power to increase sales

Reciprocity and the power to increase sales

Reciprocity and the power to persuade

By Douglas Vermeeren

Sales people who understand the power of persuasion are far more successful than those who lack these abilities. Persuasion is a direct result of how our brain process information and perceives value. If you don’t understand how to communicate value in a way that the brain learns and processes information you are at a serious disadvantage to the rest of the sales force.  Extensive studies have been done on persuasion and the workings of the brain, we will share one of the observations here.

Finding #1 There is power in Reciprocity – Reciprocate means to give in return to a previously given gift. Reciprocity in sales can start with us sharing a gift, compliment, providing a favor or special privilege to a prospect. This should be done with no strings attached. When it is something truly given, something interesting occurs in the brain.

When we are given something our brains sense a need to complete a full cycle of exchange and provide something back to the giver in return. Reciprocation creates a feeling of cohesion and trust between the two parties. Reciprocity does not necessarily require the transfer of a tangible object, it can be as simple as doing the other a favor.

From my own experience I have a really powerful story of how this has worked. When my wife and I bought our first home, a condominium there were complications. While I can’t remember all of the details I remember it centered around a problem with the paper work submission leading to a significant increase beyond the price originally agreed to for the purchase. (By about twenty thousand dollars – yikes!) On the phone the company we had the agreement with told us that the problem was ours and if we decided to walk away from the deal they already had another buyer anyways.  We had to play their way or lose the condo altogether. My wife and I were frustrated.

I decided to go down to the builder’s office to see if we could find a resolution to pay what we had originally agreed upon before the paperwork challenge. As I drove up to the building there was a man just getting out his car trying to carry a box and some golf club. I had no idea who he was but I could tell his load was a bit awkward for him.  so I offered to help. I carried in the box for him and got the door.  I followed him to an office in the building, put his box for him, he thanked me and I went to find the receptionists desk.

When I got there I explained the reason I was there, to sort out the paper work misunderstanding. The receptionist said she had no idea who could sort this out and got on the phone.  As she was on the phone the gentleman from the parking lot came to the desk and was checking for messages. He overheard the situation as she explained it on the phone. He looked at me and invited me to follow him.

We went back up to the office and he heard me out. He then smiled and told me not to worry. He was the president of the company and they would honor the original deal. As I left he didn’t make any comment on the condo, instead he thanked me again for helping him with the box from his car.

I know that is what got me into his office and what ultimately solved the problem.

Further studies in persuasion cite that reciprocity is a power tool in persuasion. Psychologist Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University has spent his entire career studying the behavior and patterns of why we are influenced to make decisions and choices that we do. Among the six core principles of social influence he identifies reciprocity as the the top in a list of six prime principles. 1.

Additional research has demonstrated that those who provide favors and privilege to their prospect have an increase in referrals, positive word of mouth and repeat business.

A Real Estate friend of mine shares a wonderful gift basket for all who use her services. The result referrals and repeat business are always coming her way. Is that she performs real estate transactions better than anyone else? Probably not. But the gift given stimulates that brain of those she works with to give back to her in return. As we stated earlier the human brain is wired to complete the exchange by giving back to those who give to us.

Does the value of the gift or favor make a difference? Our research would indicate it does.

Often you see sales agents attempting a form of reciprocity at a coffee meeting when they spring to buy a coffee for the prospect. While this is a gesture of reciprocity research conducted with the Succeed Research center indicates that most prospects remain more or less unaffected by this gesture. 2. In many they even expected that the person who called the meeting or was doing the selling was kind of expected to take care of those things.

The same can be said of gifts at a trade show. Pens, mugs, stickers, tattoos, balloons, calendars etc. all started out at attempts to create reciprocity, not marketing as most would suggest. The problem why they no longer work as gifts of reciprocity, and rarely work as tools of marketing, is that these gifts at this level of value given are too common and they really make very little impact on us.

Reciprocity works but it cannot come across as insincere or as a cheap ploy to get us out there marketing for the company we are interacting with. It must be a true gift and something of reasonable value.

Douglas Vermeeren is the director of the SUCCEED Research Center which is dedicated to sharing research on the systems that top achievers use to create lasting success. Over the last decade Vermeeren has interviewed more than 400 of the world’s top achievers, including business leaders, celebrities and professional or Olympic athletes. Douglas Vermeeren is the author of Guerrilla Achiever (With Jay Levinson) and the creator of The Opus (with Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Dr. Joe Vitale, Dr. John Demartini, Dr. Sue Morter, Marci Shimoff, Bill Bartmann, Bob Doyle and Morris Goodman.) Currently Doug is completing another film entitled, How Thoughts Become Things. This film will explore the process of how our thoughts become manifest in our lives as reality.  For more on this film go to: www.HowThoughtsBecomeThings.com For more on Douglas Vermeeren go to: www.SucceedResearch.com Douglas Vermeeren can be reached for speaking engagements and training at 1.877.393.9496.

For information about the Sales Success Academy coaching and training programs please call 1.877.393.9496.
1.Scientific American Mind, March/April 2010 p.31(Cialdini has also published his conclusions in the book, INfluence:Science and Practice (Ally & Bacon, 2008)

2. Succeed Research Center survey conducted on reciprocity and prospect value interpretations 2010. This study involved rating and commenting on typical gifts that sales agents

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