Ask for a penny, and get much more (some sales psychology at work)

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It seems that asking for a small commitment when you are closing a sales meeting works a whole lot better than either asking for nothing, or perhaps asking for the moon, according to some psychological research.

Asking for less yields more, according to a study detailed in Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, a book by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini.

Solicitors went door-to-door seeking donations for the American Cancer Society. Half of the time the solicitors would say, “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?” Half of the time they would also add the following to the end of their pitch, “. . . even a penny will help.”

The researchers discovered that prospects in the “even a penny will help” category were more than twice as likely to give something.

The “even a penny will help” donors did not give smaller donations. The size of their donations were just as large as the other half of the donors!

“So what does this all mean for your sales pitches?,” speaking consultant Joey Asher says in his blog. “When you’re asking for a commitment from a prospect, try asking for a small commitment.  It seems to make prospects more likely to buy by making the process seem less intimidating. And, even though you’re asking for less, the size of the purchase will likely be the same.”

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