You’re interviewing a candidate for a sales position. You like their responses to your questions, so you ask a typical question often required of sales candidates, “Sell me something!” In this case it's a jug of water on your desk.
The candidate looks around the room for a moment, and before getting up asks for a match. You just happen to have one. The candidate gets up goes over to a basket filled to overflowing with paper from discarded computer reports. The candidate brings this basket to your desk, lights it with the match, dropping it into the basket. Soon flames are shooting up threatening to become out of control.
The candidate asks, “Would you like to buy this jug of water?”
Steve Martin is co-author of The Small Big along with Noah Goldstein and Power of Influence writer Robert Cialdini, the latter who’s spoken at our Growth Summits previously. The point of the The Small Big is to expose what the smallest change you can make to your approach that would best increase your chances of success.
In the case of the sales candidate and the jug of water, nothing changed about the jug of water, the candidate simply changed the context of what the jug of water was being offered to for.
Context matters. Context trumps cognition.
His question to our audience dispersed between numerous examples what’s the smallest change you can make that leads to the biggest change in outcome?
In order to succeed in this concept Martin shared three fundamental motivations we must understand about how people make decisions. People are motivated:
- To make quick, efficient and as accurate as possible: in our overloaded and communicated world, shortcuts to good decisions are found gold. Martin shared a wine list that started with the lowest prices first. Customer’s response to this was to choose the 3rd or 4th priced wines. Then he noted that by switching the order of the wine list to show the top priced wine first customers went to the middle of the list and chose those wines. The result was anywhere from 10-25% increase in the price of wine sold. We are influenced most by what we see first. You need to have a good comparison in order to make a decision. He noted a restaurant that has included a $4500 motor scooter on their menus. The result, their sandwiches and meals appear cheaper. His advice is to put your product or service offering in the proper perspective you need to compare your proposition to something else, and present that first.
- To affiliate with and gain approval of others: At the 2010 Growth Summit, Dr Robert Cialdini explained the persuasion principle of reciprocation providing an example of how giving a mint after a meal could increase tip size from 3% to 23%. If you do something unexpected, personal, and significant, when done first, it applies this principle of gaining approval of others, increasing your ability to influence them. Another example Martin offered is returning home for the summit, opening your mail that’s piled up. Which piece of mail would you open first? If there’s a handwritten envelop predominantly that is what you’ll open first since most mail is electronically printed and a handwritten message is unexpected, personal, and significant.
- To see oneself in a positive light: It’s estimated that no shows for appointments cost approximately $1.3 billion a year. Working with a medical clinic their research discovered when patients are asked to repeat the time and date of their appointment no shows decrease 3.4%. When given a blank appointment slip and asked to write down the details themselves no shows decrease 18%. Finally they asked the patient to write the details of their appointment down as well as letting them know that the majority of patients who schedule appointments show up on time. This provided the most dramatic improvement of all – 31.4% decrease in no shows. Martin noted the cost of this. It's next to nothing yet it yields a dramatic improvement in no shows.
Continuing with this idea of seeing yourself in a positive light Martin noted that asking someone to tell the truth at the front end of an agreement dramatically improves commitment and follow through. When do they ask you in a courtroom to, “tell the truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God?” If you want to have someone fulfill the agreement have the signature at the beginning of the form.
Martin concluded his presentation noting these three points:
- Context trumps cognition
- The diminutive (often costless) nature of changes
- None arose from best practices within organization concerned. (Most companies believe they already know the best way.)
He recommends each of us in our business and industry become familiar with the science of persuasion and then invest in it.
There’s much more to share next blog from the Growth Summit.
Just a reminder you still have a week to register for the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop. Download the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop flyer. Register to attend this event November 12th in Cedar Rapids.