You’re mulling around the house on a Sunday afternoon when there’s a knock on the door.
A bright-eyed teenage girl is standing on your stoop with a clipboard. She smiles and explains that she’s volunteering with a local environmental group.
“Would you be open to answering a simple 3-question survey?” she asks.
Relieved that she’s not asking for money, you happily agree.
She reads the first question…
“On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for us to protect the environment?”
That’s easy. “Definitely a 10,” you respond.
Next question: “On a scale of 1-10, how worried are you about climate change?”
“10 again,” you say.
Just yesterday you’d read an article about the seriousness of climate change. It painted a pretty gruesome picture.
Final survey question: “On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you personally to aiding the fight against climate change?”
You pause for a moment and then sheepishly respond, “I try to do your part, but I know there’s more I could do. I guess I’d say an 8.”
The smiling environmental-enthusiast jots down your last response and then looks up at you nervously and says…
“Thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it! We’re also doing a fundraiser to raise money for our climate change efforts. Given your survey responses, you seem to really care about this cause. Are you open to making a small donation?”
Bam! There it is.
What do you do?
In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at the Foot In The Door Technique – why agreeing to a small request makes us more likely to then agree to a second, larger request.
Let’s get into it.
“Top Marketing Newsletters You Need to Subscribe To”
The Psychology of the Foot in the Door Technique 🧠
The Foot In The Door Technique is a popular compliance tactic used by salespeople, military, and frustrated parents alike.
(If you’ve ever convinced a defiant toddler to go to bed by first asking them to brush their teeth, you’ve used the foot in the door technique.)
Multiple studies prove that getting someone to agree to a small request increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger request.
This tactic works because once the person agrees to a small request they find it more difficult to refuse a bigger one.
Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐
By nature, people aim to be consistent with their past behavior. We get psychological comfort from seeing ourselves as rational creatures with the autonomy to make our own choices. It helps us to feel like we’re in control.
That’s why when we agree to something small and painless—like giving our email in exchange for a free guide—we’re more likely to then agree to a bigger commitment—like booking a sales demo.
With each small action we take, we’re unconsciously telling ourselves a story about what kind of person we are. The more small actions we take, the more entrenched this identity becomes, and the more difficult it is to resist the next ask.
How To Apply This 🤑
Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?
Get People To Self-Identify First
Similar to the climate change fundraising story above, you can increase your chances of getting a sale by targeting people who already self-identify as believers in whatever it is you sell.
For example, a political candidate might ask people in attendance at a rally to wear a pin to promote her campaign. Later, she might ask those people for a campaign donation.
Break Tasks Into Small Steps
Breaking up a task into smaller steps will increase the chances that the task gets completed. We see this all the time with multi-step forms, surveys, or onboarding flows, like the example below:
Ladder Up To Your Offer
Use a series of escalating commitments to persuade people to say “yes” to your offer. The bigger the commitment, the more steps you may need to get buyers to the finish line.
For instance, if your end goal is to sell people on an annual subscription to your paid newsletter, you can start off by getting them to enter their email to read the latest edition for free. Next, they can pay $1 to unlock a free month, and so on.
The Short of It 💥
If you want to persuade someone to take action, start by asking for something small. If they comply with your first small request, they’ll be more likely to respond to your next and bigger request.
Until next time, happy selling!
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