Reciprocity is so strong that a person will often feel obligated to return a favour regardless of whether they like the person who originally gave the favour and even if they did not want the favour.
This is a common human trait. When people are given something for free, they feel compelled to return the favour. Not only that, but they feel compelled to return the favour with interest. They usually end up giving more back than they received in the first place. Social Psychologists call this reciprocity.
1. Find a way to enter a dialogue with prospective customers in a non-threatening way.
Most people are ‘scared away’ by a direct selling approach. If this guy had tried to sell me a copy directly I’d have walked on. But by entering into dialogue offering to help, I was temporarily disarmed. The implication here will vary greatly from business to business, but if you can start a conversation along non-commercial lines, it will make the subsequent transaction all the more likely.
2. Give something away without condition or express obligation.
Study after study has shown the power of reciprocity. The human condition is such that once we’re given something we don’t feel comfortable until we’ve restored the balance and given something back. So give some thought to what you could give away in your business. It could be advice or help as in this case, or something more tangible like a sample product, a trial quantity, a free book or something else. The important thing is that no obligation is stated or implied. It isn’t necessary because human psychology will ensure that the obligation is created and then met.
3. Once the sale is made, try to increase the order value.
Increasing the value of an order after a purchase decision has been made is certainly something which you should think about carefully. It can turn a break even venture into a profitable one and a profitable venture into a fortune maker.
The more orthodox routes to increasing order value are to sell a higher quantity of the first product or to sell complementary products. So if you have a customer who has agreed to buy a widget, you could immediately offer to sell him more widgets (in exchange for a discount) or offer something he can use with the widget he just bought. The appropriate approach will obviously depend on the product you’re selling.
The important thing is that these extra products can be sold at a lower profit margin because fixed selling costs have already been covered on the original sale. So it’s a win-win for all concerned.
If you find yourself making a sale, taking the money and being grateful you’ve actually sold something, you could be leaving a lot of value on the table with these up-sell opportunities.