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Passion, People and Principles

I Can’t Believe This Worked on Me!

post # 267 — December 21, 2006 — a Client Relations post

We all love to believe that we are very rational in our own buying, especially when it comes to purchases of important things like professional services. Nevertheless, there are times when marketing and selling approaches that we would like to believe don’t work on us, well, they actually do.

For example, this is a terrible confession, but you’ve almost always got me to complete those silly questionnaire’s that come in the mail if you include a dollar bill with the questionnaire. It’s an old direct marketing technique, but just as Robert Cialdini analyzes in his justifiably famous book Influence , the “sense of obligation” that putting that dollar in my wallet creates is enough to make me complete and return the darn questionnaire. And there’s no way I’m going to avoid the problem by throwing the dollar away, am I? And it will cost me more in time to send back than it’s worth! I’m trapped with no way out!

Similarly, I hate it that I’m a sucker for the freebies that exhibitors give away at conferences. I know, if I had more courage, I could just go and help myself to the freebie (pens, computer flash memory, free software) without getting into a conversation with the people staffing the booth, but it just feels rude not to enquire politely about their product or service. I’m not saying I always end up buying, but a high percentage of the time they get my business card, and they follow up. The darned approach works on me and I wish it didn’t.

I’ll confess that I’m also a sucker for “extra features.” If you show me a plain vanilla option and an “extra special option,” I’m going to listen hard for what the latter can do for me. I hate that I fall for it — but I do. I hate it that I buy the “extra insurance” when renting a car, even though my statistical training tells me it’s a stupid purchase. They play on my insecurities, and they win.

Have any of you got confessions to make about marketing or selling tactics that worked on you that you really didn’t think were going to? I don’t just mean at the supermarket or the car showroom, but perhaps in hiring a professional provider to assist you.

Have you ever spent more than you planned to on a service provider? What did they do that “worked” on you? I don’t mean the honorable, trust-earning things that truly make you want to work with an honorable provider. I mean the things that make you say (as the title of this blogpost says): I can’t believe this worked on me!


Tom "Bald Dog" Varjan said:

A good few years ago I hired a web designer to do the graphics elements of my site. We signed the contract and a few days later she informed me that she’d created a “Site under construction page” and had sent me a $210 invoice for it.

But I was raised in a family where it was fine not to accept professionals’ services, but once accepted there was no haggling. So, although I know it was unfair, I paid and ended the contract.

So, I’ve become a non-haggler myself, and have absolutely zero toleration with people who try to haggle with me. I respect skilful negotiation, but passionately hate “this is your best price, man?” type haggling questions. I smell troublesome clients behind them.

posted on December 22, 2006

Johnny Canada said:

This article IS a sales tactic… It’s asking people to charitably offer sales ideas that work. Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

posted on December 22, 2006

David (Maister) said:

Shucks! Caught red handed! I love and revel in paradoxes.

Actually, Johnny, asking for help is a key to many “sales” approaches, right? But if the blogpost IS a sales tactic, (asking for help) what, then, am I selling?

posted on December 22, 2006

Phil Bernstein said:

The dollar-in the-envelope thing never works on me. I can cheerfully put the buck in my wallet and throw the rest away.

What works on me — if I’m interested in the offer — is a deadline. Even if there’s no reason for the deadline, if I think it might stick, it’ll get me to act.

posted on December 23, 2006

Recruiting Animal said:

Dave, I enjoyed this posting. Johnny, you’re right, a blog is sales too but in most cases an indirect one.

posted on December 28, 2006

AdsBay said:

Extra offers with dead lines are the best sales pitch I think. They work on me (if I truly believe the offer will end) and all the best marketers use them so they must be working for them. I even use them when offering offers because they work.

posted on January 3, 2007

Johnny Canada said:

I guess a sale would involve receiving something in return for the information given. If not a sale, maybe charitable advice? I guess that’s the nature of forums though. I apologize for being cynical, I must’ve been having a bad day!

posted on January 3, 2007

David (Maister) said:

Welcome back – do keep joining in! And cynicism is allowed, and even appreciated when defended with arguments. A conversation is worth nothing if we’re all making the same point.

posted on January 3, 2007

Peter said:

David, thanks for the article.

Johnny Canada, you are not the only person who sees the irony. But to some extend every word in the article is truthful.

As for me, I’m never interested in the money in the envelope. The only thing I do care about is my desire to work.

posted on May 18, 2007

Hermes said:

I agree with Peter. What’s the magic with this “money in envelope”?… People’s psyhology is a really weird thing

posted on May 28, 2007