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How to use Commitment to convert prospects into sales

For more than 30 years salespeople and marketers have been drawing lessons from The 6 Principles of Influence by Robert Cialdini. This 1984 book revolves around the factors that influence people’s decisions, the simple but powerful motivators that make people say “Yes”.

In this article we’re going to look at how you can use Cialdini’s second principle, Commitment and Consistency, to convert more of your prospects into sales by getting your prospects to take an easy first step.

Keeping your promises

“It appears that commitments are most effective in changing a person’s self-image and future behaviour when they are active, public, and effortful.” – Robert Cialdini

Would you chase after a thief if they stole something right in front of you? In one study conducted with a portable radio, only 4 out of 20 people tried to run after a radio thief. But what if, 5 minutes earlier, someone had asked you to keep an eye on it? In this scenario, participants who tried to stop the theft jumped to 95%

People aren’t naturally inclined to go out of their way to stop random crimes, but they are inclined toward consistency and honouring their commitments. When we’ve committed to an action, or have committed one before, we’re more likely to follow through with it.

So how can we apply this to the work of a South African real estate agent?

Focus on the smallest next step

If you want something from a prospect, like a commitment to buy, don’t start there. Start small.

Think about the easiest question for which you could get a positive response. You could offer a free weekly update of relevant property information. You could simply ask for catch-up in two weeks.

Offering clients high-quality, low-value resources is a great first step. Read about using reciprocity to attract more business here.

For example, say you’re trying to secure a commitment to buy. Start by requesting a meeting some time in advance. If you’re hoping for a meeting on short notice, ask if you could call today at a convenient time. If you want a prospect to commit to filling out a survey, start with a commitment to read an email you’ll be sending later today.

Having your prospects make small, easy commitments not only makes them more likely to commit to large requests down the line, but also shows off your own consistency and commitment as an agent.

Voluntary, active and public

We all make commitments we don’t keep. What separates strong commitments from weak ones?

Firstly, they must be voluntary. Trying to compel or pressure your prospects into a commitment, even just to get your foot in the door, will not make that commitment stick. That’s why an easy “yes”, a small commitment for which you’re likely to get a positive response, is a great way to build toward a bigger one.

Commitments also need to be active. Don’t pressure a prospect to agree to something; pressure them to commit to what they’ve agreed to. As Cialdini puts it, “there’s strong empirical evidence to show that a choice made actively—one that’s spoken out loud or written down or otherwise made explicit—is considerably more likely to direct someone’s future conduct than the same choice left unspoken.”

Getting a public commitment can be more difficult. Try meeting your prospect with a friend or colleague, or have someone join you when attempting to secure a major commitment. This will make it more difficult for your prospect to go back on their commitment.

Consistency goes both ways

So far we’ve focused on how commitment and consistency on the part of your prospect can improve your chances of getting a “Yes” when you want it. It’s also a great way to showcase the quality of your service as an Agent.

When a prospect commits to attend a meeting, make time for a phone call or receive monthly updates, that’s when your own commitment and consistency become important. You can broadcast your competency, initiative and diligence simply by following through on the commitments made between you and a client. More than remembering birthdays or bi-weekly check-in’s, this is what client relationship management is about.

In Summary

  1. Start small. If you want something from a prospect, like a commitment to buy, get your prospects to make small, easy commitments. This will make them more likely to respond positively to more ambitious requests.
  2. Don’t pressure a prospect to agree to something; pressure them to commit to what they’ve agreed to.
  3. Try meeting your prospect with a friend or colleague, or have someone join you when attempting to secure a major commitment.

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