Recently my friend Ben was walking home and came across a panhandler. Here is the conversation they had:
Panhandler: “Hey, do you know of any shelters around here?”
Ben: “umm… no I’m sorry I don’t know of any shelters around here.”
Panhandler: “Okay, Can I stay at your place tonight? It’s raining.”
Ben: (a little startled) “No, I’m sorry. I have a roommate and don’t know how he would feel about that.”
Panhandler: “I understand. How about $1.00?”
Ben: (relieved) “Sure! Here is $1.00.”
Ben is Approached by Panhandlers Every day
Living in the Mission (San Francisco) Ben is approached by a Panhandlers a lot. He never gives any of them money. So, what made this situation so different? Why did he give this one a dollar?
This Panhandler is a Sales Genius!
The panhandler understands how to influence people. He used two techniques most marketers know about.
Sales Technique #1: FOOT IN THE DOOR
The panhandler knew that people like Ben are constantly getting hounded for change. The usual response is to ignore them. By asking a simple yes or no question like “Do you know of any shelter around here?”. The panhandler was able to get Ben engaged (or “his Foot in the Door”). This simple yes/no question opens up the ability to ask Ben another question or a favor – it will be much much harder for Ben to ignore the panhandler after he responds to a question.
Sales Technique #2: DENNIS THE MENACE
Ask for something crazy so that your next offer seems like nothing. The panhandler knew that asking for a $1.00 is a lot of money since most beggers are asking for 25 cents. So instead he asked for something crazy like a place to stay so that his next proposal ($1.00) seems like nothing. Honestly I think he could have asked for $5.00 and gotten it.
The moral of the story
Next time you want something follow these 3 steps:
Step 1: Ask a simple yes/no question to start the conversation (get your foot in the door)
Step 2: Ask for something grand (like a lot of money or time)
Step 3: Ask for the thing you actually want (like a couple dollars, a 20 minute phone call, a simple partnership)
Have you ever used this technique? I’d love to know your story in the comments.