by Jeff Spring | Business Pundit
It’s been said many times that business is all about people.
That being the case, perhaps we should stop reading management books for advice and start looking at social psychology.
Very simply, social psychologists study how people interact with others – their families, friends, and yes, business partners.
Smart marketers and executives have been using the findings of this growing field for decades to close sales, hold effective meetings and get their way in negotiations. But rather than putting you through an academic psychology lesson, we condensed the most useful concepts into one article.
Foot In Door
The Concept: If you’re wondering how to convince superiors, employees or customers to do what you ask, try using the foot in the door phenomenon. This refers to the tendency of people to do something huge if they have already agreed to something much smaller. Your friend should be much more open to helping you decorate your entire house for a dinner party if, for example, he already helped you pick out decorations.
How You Can Use It: This handy principle has countless applications in the business world. Hand lotion and beauty supply kiosks at the mall use it all the time. If you can get a person to talk to you for a couple of minutes and rub some lotion on their hands, you’ve got your foot in the door, and they are much more likely to buy from you than if you had just screamed a sales pitch at them.
The Door in the Face Phenomenon
The Concept: Another classic persuasion tactic is known as the “Door in the Face Phenomenon.” Using this approach, you make your actual request look reasonable by first making an outrageous request that the person will unquestionably turn down. When they turn you down, you then ask for what you really want, which now looks trivial in light of what you asked for a moment earlier.
How You Can Use It: Let’s say you want your company to approve funding for a team of five marketers to research a new advertising campaign. Rather than simply asking for this funding and risking being shot down, use the door in the face principle. Ask your company for twice the amount of funding for a team twice as big as what you need. This will almost certainly be disapproved, but don’t fret; you didn’t need that amount in the first place. Act like you’re really going to work hard on cutting the funding down to the bone and reworking your proposal. In a few days, come back and propose the funding request you wanted all along. It will look as though you found a way to accomplish the same tasks for half the price with half the personnel. Social psychology research states that you are much more likely to get what you want by doing this.
The Serial Position Effect
The Concept: A truly sharp marketer should understand how our brains process information. The “Serial Position Effect” (developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus) assists by explaining how we remember items we see or hear in lists. Ebbunghaus discovered that things shown at the beginning of a list and at the end of a list are remembered best. This was later titled the “Primacy Effect,” and the “Recency Effect.”
How You Can Use It: This powerful concept can affect what the millions of people seeing your advertisements, listening to your radio promotion, or reading your sales letter, remember about your product. If you have five benefits that your product provides over the competition, think long and hard about which ones you want to stick deep into your audience’s memory. Place those items at the beginning and end of your pitch. This way, prospects will remember these benefits when they see your product on a shelf or think about the commercial they just saw.
Jeff Spring is the Finance & Markets Editor at BusinessPundit.com. He’s currently spending his days backpacking across Europe. While he may be living outside of the United States, he stays connected to American financial markets and M&A’s more than is probably healthy for any single person. His love of a good book and a Bloomberg terminal can’t be understated. He can be reached at [email protected]