Cognitive Bias 9 out of 25: Reciprocation Tendency

Reciprocity is one of my favorite topics. It’s like a mental time bomb that most people have no clue about! This tendency derives from exchanging things to benefit both parties. More times than not it’s typically pretty one sided. The salesperson is the one that typically benefits more from reciprocation. Some examples of reciprocity could include something as simple as giving your customer something for free like food, pens, a bottle of water, etc. In turn, the customer sees this nice gesture and wants to repay the favor. People get all chivalrous like the Lannisters from Game of Thrones always paying their debts and what not…

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You can subtly use this throughout your sales process to your advantage (if you need a killer sales process check out mine here). The goal of reciprocity is to get your foot in the door. You go above and beyond and this captures your client’s attention. Standing out every way possible is important in sales. Remember that it’s all about the customer experience and people buy from people that they like.

Where Reciprocity Can Go Wrong

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” – M. K. Gandhi

Related imageThe same reciprocation can happen in reverse. People will seek out revenge when they feel they’ve been wronged. This derives from this reciprocation tendency. It’s a simple concept that’ll entice you to stoop down to lower levels, seeking out justice for any wrongdoings. My recommendation for this is to put on your big boy and big girl pants. If you feel you have been slighted by someone just move on. Or you can…

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No… No… the best thing to do is to move on. I know that it’ll be difficult but you’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll know that you took the higher road even when someone wronged you. Now, getting walked all over is a different story. Stand up for yourself but revenge is unnecessary!

5 Ways to Use Reciprocity

  1. Giving free items. I know I mentioned this earlier but free items have a huge return on investment. Go out of your way to give each and every client a free item or sample. Your client will start thinking positive thoughts about you. It goes hand-in-hand with Pavlov’s Theory (you know where he gave a treat to a dog each time he rang a bell?). You can get your foot in the door with these items and give yourself another chance to go for the close (if you need help with closing check out my 17 tips to help you close more sales).
  2. Giving excellent service. You may get shot down with items. Not to worry, giving excellent customer service and time have similar effects. I have experienced people buying before just because they knew the salesman had many hours invested in it. Going above and beyond gets noticed every single time.
  3. Small favors. Doing small favors for someone are ways to use reciprocity to your advantage. It’s the whole scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours concept.
  4. Reject then retreat tactic. This is one of my favorite negotiation tactics and it’s a beast! What you do here is request something that is a huge ask. You’ll either have it accepted and be better off or get shot down and have the next ask be a lot more reasonable. This is used often with salary negotiations. First, you decide what you want to be paid. Next, you request an amount 20% over that. Then, that will either be accepted (super awesome and makes you think should I have asked for more?) or you give your actual amount and that seems a lot more reasonable. You meet in the middle which is common in sales.
  5. Advice for the client’s best interest. Sales is all about trust. If you have a client looking at something that they’ll never need you have an ethical duty to advise them on that. For example: if someone has a beater for a car you shouldn’t sell them coverage for a $50,000 sports car. Salespeople that do that give this awesome profession a bad rap. Instead, what you should do is recommend a downgrade in the policy and then focus on add-ons or cross-selling! That’s how a sales master will do it. Also, your client will instantly have more trust in you if you recommend a downgrade. If you need help skyrocketing your sales with upselling check this out.

Let these recommendations on the reciprocity tendency be a way for you to increase your sales and become a sales master! After you start closing more sales you’ll be able to live like a Lannister!

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Knowing the psychology behind sales will be very beneficial for you. If you like this post and want to learn more check out why envy is the life force of any economy.

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Be great,

Cody Cameron