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Post No.: 0804request


Furrywisepuppy says:


The ‘foot-in-the-door technique’ involves making a small, unobtrusive furry request that should be easily acceptable, then later asking for a bigger request. This latter request will now have a greater chance of being accepted compared to if it were asked from the outset. Don’t go in too soon or late between requests though. It works best when both requests are related, like asking for money both times, and the requests are for the same beneficiary and are prosocial, like asking for help. Try it with charity donations, seeking changes in working conditions, and lifestyle changes – although don’t push it!


It’s like upselling as a salesperson is easier once the customer has already agreed to buy an item, especially after an expensive item and the extras or upgrade seem to add only a relatively little bit more to the final price. For example, £10 for an accessory doesn’t seem like much when compared to a £1,000 main item. As someone on the other side though, one must watch out for upselling tactics, especially when sellers fraudulently claim that you’ll need something, like payment protection insurance, when it’s not compulsory, won’t make a difference or you can get it cheaper elsewhere.


The ‘door-in-the-face technique’ meanwhile involves making a big unreasonable request, which will likely be flatly refused, then making a relatively less unreasonable request. This latter request will now have a greater chance of being accepted compared to if it were asked from the outset. This exploits natural reciprocity norms – more so than self-interest would suggest – because it’s like you’ve conceded something (by subsequently asking for less) and so they’ll concede something (by agreeing to the lesser request). It works best when the same person makes both requests, it’s face-to-face, and the requests are made with no delay between them. This technique is highly effective. Try it when negotiating house or car prices, working hours, salaries, overdraft limits, and with kids – if you want to get them to tidy the bedroom, ask them to tidy the entire house first, then if they sulk, ask them to tidy ‘just’ their bedroom!


Going first or second in stating an opening offer each has its own pros and cons. If you go first then you can set an anchor – while if you go second then you might get drawn to their anchor instead. Alternatively, if you go second then you’ll discover the other party’s boundary limit – while if you go first in the context of selling and go lower than what would’ve been their initial offer then you’ll have lost out on at least that difference (they’ll accept your first offer because it’ll already be lower than what they would’ve offered); and vice-versa in the context of buying. The other party accepting your first offer always leaves you thinking that you could’ve gotten a better deal! If you go first then, you’re best off opening with an outrageous but still realistic offer. If you go second, you’re best off baulking at their opening offer no matter how reasonable you think it really is.


So a general rule is, if you’re selling, start high; and if you’re buying, enter low. However in negotiations, one might pre-emptively use the door-in-the-face technique in anticipation that the other side will go extreme their way too. And this is an aggressive move that may scupper the chance of securing any deal because the other side might respond in kind when they weren’t initially thinking of going extreme, and consequently you’ll seem too polarised to come together. (One wonders if this sometimes happens regarding political polarisation where moderate individuals who initially only lean slightly on one side of a debate will decide to double-down and adopt an extreme position in response to trying to counterbalance the counter-extreme view that supports the other side?) Or they might attempt to get even with you by making extreme demands in subsequent negotiations. This can lead to sour relations.


One lowball tactic is – after an agreement has been made to do a job – you suddenly increase your demand partway through it. Or you get someone to agree to a purchase, but only then inform them that some fee wasn’t included. This is extremely cheeky and they’ll likely feel irritated about it, yet they might nevertheless comply with it in order to not lose the entire deal.


The ‘bait-and-switch technique’ (or really clear fraud) involves, for instance, enticing shoppers in with advertisements of fantastic bargains, but when they arrive, these items will have been apparently quickly sold out already. But since these shoppers have come, they’re pushed more expensive and/or inferior items instead, which they might go for in order to feel like the journey wasn’t a waste. We’re also sometimes lured in to click on an online product page because of the advertised price, just to find out that this price refers to some out-of-stock or low-cost complimentary item rather than the product shown in the main picture. Annoying!


‘Reverse psychology’ might work on some stubborn people who believe that their reputation depends on not doing what others say. So here you ask for the opposite of what you want. It can backfire though if they agree to what you request!


Other techniques for persuasion include, in an indirect way, asking people to imagine or predict doing what it is that you would like them to ultimately do i.e. to visualise a step-by-step action plan. Once the planning appears to have been figured out, executing it won’t seem as hard. If something will be good but difficult to do though, it’s better to acknowledge that it will be difficult than pretending it’s not; while stressing that the upsides will outweigh the downsides. This will sound more credible.


Generally, repetition increases persuasiveness during the first three or so times, but after that it’ll rarely help much and may even have an opposite effect if people become rankled from hearing a particular message – like being told for the thirtieth time to ‘keep on keeping on’ through a slog!


Stimulating thought will make strong messages more persuasive but – because they might think of some counterarguments – weak messages less so. Using rhetorical questions, using separate speakers each giving an argument instead of one speaker giving them all, and securing people’s undivided attention (perhaps because they’re a captive audience), may help stimulate their thinking. Tell your first name first to get on friendlier terms and to lower people’s guards. Talk with people rather than at them. Speaking fluidly (with few ‘umms’ and ‘erms’) will make you appear more intelligent, knowledgeable and sincere (even though many professional windbags sound far more knowledgeable than they really are!)


Make it difficult to refuse a request, such as by saying, “Even a penny helps” when seeking donations. How can they reasonably refuse that? And once they open their wallets, they’ll likely feel that they might as well give more whilst they’re there.


A common sales technique is placing the product in a potential customer’s paws in order to get them to feel like they almost already own it. Once they handle the product out of its box, they’re just one small step away from owning it. This is related to the endowment effect and how people seldom make use of ‘30-day guarantees’.


The ‘presumptive close’ is when you stick your paw out ready to shake theirs and say, “So do we have a deal then?” This puts them on the spot, which means they may act impulsively.


Presumptively labelling people as helpful or a supporter when campaigning for a cause may act as self-fulfilling, as long as they’re at least somewhat sympathetic to the cause. It might turn them from passive to active supporters, especially if you make them feel responsible for evaluating or passing along a message.


Commitments that are written down feel more concrete. Commitments that are made public are even harder to renege on because people don’t want to lose face by failing to honour them. In a related way, members of cults who are instructed to try to convince other people of their group’s beliefs will feel more convinced about these beliefs themselves – no one wants to preach something in public that’s false because that’ll involve a loss of face so one will want to fundamentally believe that whatever one is preaching must be true. So if you want someone to be more convinced about something – ask him/her to try to convince other people of it.


Sometimes it’s not about cults or zealous beliefs though – in debating classes, getting people to debate for a side they don’t initially support can help them to understand this side’s arguments and case better, and as a result of thinking deeply from this side’s shoes and fighting for their case, they’ll likely become convinced that this side might legitimately have a point or two after all.


Asking for a peculiar or specific request, like 37p instead of 30p, will increase the likelihood of compliance. The ‘disrupt and reframe technique’ involves momentarily surprising a person to shake them out of autopilot, and then presenting a normal request, like, “These books are 300p. That’s £3. A bargain.”


Getting £50 when other people around you are getting £60 is rationally better than getting £40 when others are getting £30. Yet the latter feels better.


Looking for 10 reasons to love someone rather than just 3 may result in one inferring that one doesn’t love that person as much as one originally thought if 10 reasons cannot be found. But no new information has been introduced so you should still love that person the same as before whether you were asked to find 10 reasons but could only find 3, or whether you were asked to find 3 and found 3!


An expensive television can be made to look less expensive if one compares it to an extremely expensive one, and that’s one reason why salespeople will first try to push you towards an extremely expensive set to make almost anything that costs less than that seem affordable by comparison. This is why you’ve got to be careful if you enter a shop without setting yourself a maximum budget beforehand.


Conversely, a salesperson or waiter/waitress might attempt to gain your trust by advising against the purchase of an expensive item early in the interaction – but then after gaining your trust suggest some expensive items, or suggest you buy more items in total, later or elsewhere.


Even in market contexts, if a salesperson gives you something for free then you’re more likely to return the favour and buy something from them because of reciprocity norms – even if that free gift wasn’t something you really wanted or needed (hence they were only trying to exploit these reciprocity norms). ‘Free gifts’ can often be framed as basically bribes to get you to sign up to some service or make some other purchase.


Salespeople attempt to exploit our feelings too, knowing that we often act on our emotions. So – as in the door-in-the-face technique – they may start by asking you to buy several items, but then they’ll gradually reduce their demands to the point of asking you to buy ‘just one thing’ from them. At which point you’d feel bad about it if you didn’t. But that was their plan all along!


Pressure tactics are sometimes used – like trying to make you feel foolish for foregoing an offer if you don’t buy or subscribe to one of their products, when in fact you could be foolish if you do. Different people respond differently to pressure tactics though – some are persuaded by a hard sell while others are totally repulsed by it. The context matters too, so one-off purchases tend to be associated with ‘hard selling’ (direct and aggressive) approaches, whilst building long-term relationships tend to be associated with ‘soft selling’ (indirect and patient) approaches.


Woof! See Post No.: 0755 for more tricks of the trade.


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