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Sales Techniques – How the Liking Rule Makes Us Spend Money

From Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, we learn about the liking rule. This rule simply says that we most prefer to say yes to the requests of people we like. As a sales technique, the liking rule is used in many ways to get us to spend money. Here are two examples that show us how.

The Tupperware Party

The real power of the Tupperware party comes from the use of the liking rule. Though the Tupperware salesperson asks for the order, the more compelling request comes from the hostess. She’s the one who called her friends together for a demonstration.

In this setting, the warmth, security, and obligation of friendship is brought into the sales setting. As a result, the Tupperware company arranges for the customers to buy from a friend, rather than an unknown salesperson.

Researchers have found that social bond is twice as likely to lead to a purchase than just preference for the product itself. Recent estimates showed that Tupperware sales exceed $2.5 million a day!

Similarly, the Shaklee Corporation, which specializes in door-to-door sales of various household goods, uses the “endless chain” sales technique to find new customers. Once customers admit to liking a product, they’re asked for names of friends who’d also appreciate hearing about it. These friends are then approached for both sales and a list of their friends, and the process continues in an endless chain.

Why does this work? The salesman approaches the customer with the name of a friend “who suggusted I call you.” Using this method, turning down the salesman is hard. It’d almost be like turning down the actual friend.

The Greatest Car Salesman

Joe Girard used a sales technique that involves the liking rule to master the sale of Chevrolets. He was so successful that he was crowned “greatest car salesman” by the Guinness Book of World Records. Why did customers like him more?

Car DealershipEach and every month, he sent all of his over 13,000 customers a greeting card with a personal message. But the interesting thing is that the note on the card never changed – all it said was “I like you.”

This reveals an important fact about human nature: Within certain limits, we’re suckers for flattery!

How To Defend Against The Liking Factor

Rather than trying to prevent the action of the liking rule before it’s had a chance to work, we should just let them work. The time to react is when we feel ourselves liking the person more than we should under the circumstances. Then we’ll have noticed that some tactic has probably been used, and we can start taking a stand.

Suppose you go shopping for a new car. After negotiating for awhile, Rob the salesman wants to close the deal. Before you make your decision, you should ask: “In the short time I’ve spoken to this guy, have I come to like him more than I would’ve expected?”

If the answer is yes, then you need to mentally separate Rob from the car he’s trying to sell. After all, it’s the car you’ll be driving home, not Rob.

In a wise car purchase, it makes no difference that Rob is likable because he’s funny and charming. Concentrate on the deal, and keep your feelings about the person making the deal separate.

How have you been influenced by the liking rule?

Photo by emilio labrador

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