Give And You Shall Get: The Law of Reciprocity Boosts Sales

The law of reciprocityThe Law of Reciprocity. It’s a real law, I promise. It may even be slightly biblical. And it really can help you sell stuff, especially online. Want proof?

I used to work with a woman who loved to write, although that wasn’t how she earned her living. I was constantly encouraging her to write as much as she could. One time while I was browsing the bookstore, I saw some writing books and immediately thought of her.

So, I bought them and left them on her desk the next morning before she came into work. No note or anything. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I was just doing something nice for a friend.

Later, her husband got a job with ESPN and they moved across the country to Connecticut. Eventually, we lost touch with each other. But then, a couple of years later, she sent me an email asking for my address.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my mail to find an autographed photo of my boyhood idol, legendary ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman. It included a handwritten note from Mr. Berman that said: “To Leo ‘O’ Dirr — What’s that smell?

Years later and thousands of miles away, she still remembered those writing books I had given her. She just couldn’t stop thinking about that random act of kindness until she had done something to return the favor. That’s how the Law of Reciprocity works.

And, trust me, it can work wonders for your business. We’ve all heard the social media mantra “Give before you try to get.” The same principle applies whether you’re searching for a strategic partner or you’re hoping a happy new customer will send you referrals by the boatload.

How One Marketer Makes the Magic Happen

I know a guy. How many stories have you heard that started with those four little words? But, honestly, I really do know a guy. He helps pool builders market themselves. He encourages them to buy big, fancy towels to give to customers as soon as their swimming pools are finished.

When a pool builder visits his customers’ homes, he asks them to take a quick survey. One of the questions is: How likely would you be to recommend us to somebody you know?

While they’re taking the survey, the pool builder runs out to his truck and retrieves two of the fluffiest towels known to man. It’s a nice, totally unexpected gesture that doubles as a strategic sales tactic. It’s designed to trigger the Law of Reciprocity. They get some cool towels, and you get a word-of-mouth referral with the potential for more business, the value of which far outweighs two towels.

Why High-Pressure Sales Tactics Stink Like Shinola

Greta Schulz, founder and CEO of Schulz Sales Consulting, is a genius with a truly beautiful approach. She often reminds her clients that people love to buy stuff, but they hate feeling as if somebody is selling them something.

That inevitable element of human psychology hammers home the point that we all must do a better job of earning customers’ trust and referrals. I know no better way to do this than to show people on a daily basis that we genuinely care about them and their needs.

If you still want proof, look no further than the headmistress of this blog, Shelly Kramer. When I first met Shelly, she didn’t have a large online audience. I know, because she actually read my tweets back then. I don’t think she was speaking at too many Internet marketing conferences, either.

The girl knows how to hustle. She’s also a natural-born giver. She spends way too many hours each week sharing, helping, uplifting, befriending and otherwise embodying all of the catchy little platitudes from the “Mary Poppins” soundtrack.

I can tell you with complete confidence that Shelly is both a savvy practitioner and a big-time beneficiary of The Law of Reciprocity. I can scream it from the mountaintops, although I’ve never had the privilege of meeting her in person.

Give and you shall get, my friends. It’s the law.

How do you use the Law of Reciprocity to increase sales?

Guest writer Leo Dirr is the exact same person he’s been for the past 35 years. Everything about you reminds him of Faberge eggs and chicken-fried chicken. Smooches!

Image by woody1778a via Creative Commons

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