Psychology of Sales Masterclass #4 – The Foot in the Door

Have you ever agreed to a brief chat with a salesperson, and found yourself with an armful of shopping bags an hour later? It’s likely you got caught by the ‘Foot in the Door’ method. This is a compliance technique, which involves initially making a small or inconsequential request of your customer, and following this up with a larger one. The customer will be more likely to agree to the larger request, as you’ve already ‘got your foot in the door’.

The method

The ‘Foot in the Door’ method originated in 1966, from Californian Psychologists, Freedman and Fraser. They asked residents of a small American town to display a discreet card advertising safe driving in their windows. They followed this request by asking residents to display a large sign, also advertising safe driving, in their gardens. The residents were 135% more likely to agree to the large sign, if they had been asked to display the smaller card initially. This is because the psychologists had already built up a bond with these residents.

This is all very well for 1960s small town America, but how does it relate to us today? Over the years, psychologists have replicated this effect across various situations and cultures, and have consistently found positive results. We, ourselves, are subject to this effect in our daily purchases – we just don’t realise it. Have you bought ‘trial size’ products, participated in a ‘free trial’, or shared a company’s content on Twitter?

Getting your foot in the door

Ask your customers to engage with you in small ways, such as submitting their email addresses, taking brand surveys, or leaving product reviews, and they will be more receptive when you ask them to make a purchase. Just ensure that the request is consistent with, or similar in nature to, the original request to achieve optimal results for this method.

People are more receptive to this effect if the request is pro-social, so utilise the face to face connections you make, as well as your social media profiles. Social media offers you multiple choices for this; your customers could re-tweet your content, become your followers, or leave comments on your marketing material. These actions will lead them to become more engaged and bonded with your brand, and therefore more inclined to act on this bond with a purchase.

The ‘Foot in the Door’ is an intuitive method which is simple to slot into your existing sales programme, just ensure your message is consistent and clear, and you should see your sales climb.

 

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