Have you ever done something for someone else because they did something for you first?
From saying ‘thank you’ when someone holds the door open to maintain a lifetime of friendship because of someone’s kindness, we prize reciprocity as a highly-influential trigger to human behaviour.
Reciprocity is a powerful social norm that affirms you should repay others for what they have done for you.
Sociologists have proved that it affects and impacts how buyers will respond to your sales messages, too.
For example, a Disabled Veterans’ organisation said that when they sent out requests for donations by mailshot, the response was around 18%.
But when they sent out a mailer with a small gift, the response almost doubled to 35%.
The only difference was that people felt they wanted to reciprocate when a small gift was sent to them. (Jim Smolowe, Time Magazine)
What’s interesting is that when people perceive the value of the gift to be high, they seem to reciprocate more than if it’s perceived as a free gift. (Priya Raghubir, Journal of Consumer Psychology 2004)
So how can you include this concept of reciprocity in your communications with prospects?
Here’s an example of a typical value statement made by a salesperson:
“The reason for my call is to learn more about your business and determine if there is a way we would be able to help you. We’ve helped many companies like yours reduce their time to market when launching new products. Would you have a few minutes to explore how we could help you in this area?”
It’s a typical value statement, in that it asks the buyer to invest their time in seeing if there’s value in talking to you.
Compare that with this statement:
“The reason for my call is that I wanted to share a research report our firm created that highlights three strategies that are proven to reduce time to market when launching new products. We’ve helped many companies like yours to do this. Normally this report sells at £197, but I’d like to give it to you at no cost, because rather than tell you how we can improve your time to market, I’d like to show you actual results we’ve achieved in this area.”
Do you see the second statement adds value by providing something that, if accepted, leverages the concept of reciprocity?
Many salespeople find that using this principle causes potential clients to be more receptive in entering into discussions.
This is because value is offered right at the beginning, and all that’s required of the prospect is to reciprocate with a little time.
So, reciprocity grabs buyer’s attention, shapes perception and creates a psychological debt in the mind of the prospect, without it appearing to be a bribe of any sort.
The value to the buyer has to be seen as worth more than the time they are giving up.
Analyse how you can provide something that the prospect sees as valuable to them and see if it has an effect on the type of discussions you have.