A researcher, posing as a volunteer worker, went door-to-door in a California neighbourhood and asked homeowners if they would allow a billboard to be built in their front yards. The homeowners were shown a photograph of the proposed billboard. What they saw was an attractive house almost completely hidden behind a massive sign, with amateurish lettering that read DRIVE CAREFULLY.

As you might imagine, few agreed to this absurd request. Only 17%.

However, another group of similar homeowners reacted differently. When the “volunteer” knocked on their door, showed them the picture, and asked to put up this billboard from hell, an overwhelming 76% said, “Yes.”

Why the startling difference in response? Two weeks earlier, a different “volunteer” had asked this second group to display a tiny, 8cm sign that read BE A SAFE DRIVER. This request was so small, so reasonable, so easy to agree to, that almost everyone did agree.

And because of that innocent act, because they had agreed to this small request first, they were far more receptive to the enormously larger request two weeks later.

THE PRINCIPLE OF COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY STATES THAT WE ARE DRIVEN TO REMAIN CONSISTENT IN OUR ATTITUDES, WORDS, AND ACTIONS. SO, WHEN WE ARE LED TO MAKE A COMMITMENT OF SOME KIND - TO GO ON RECORD, TAKE A STAND OR MAKE A DECISION - THERE IS AN URGE TO REMAIN CONSISTENT WITH THAT ORIGINAL COMMITMENT LATER ON.

Consistency makes thinking easy, because there’s little thinking needed. Make up your mind about something once, and you never have to think about it ever again. Faced with new situations, you simply recall how you handled it before and the problem is solved. When the Rule of Consistency is triggered, decisions are made almost automatically.

In one trial, The American Cancer Society surveyed people by phone. They asked prospects to predict what they would say if asked to volunteer for three hours to collect donations. Many said they would say, “Yes.” Later these people were called again and actually asked to volunteer for three hours. The result? A 700% increase in volunteers. By answering “yes” the first time — to an innocent question — those people took a stand, made a commitment, and later felt compelled to make their actions consistent with their words.

FOR EVERY MESSAGE, WE MUST CONSIDER THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUR PROSPECT’S OR CUSTOMER’S COMMITMENTS.

Ask yourself: Is there a commitment I must create to sell this? Is there an existing commitment I can use to my benefit? Or is there a commitment I need to break?

You can align their current beliefs with beliefs you need them to have:

For example: If you’re the kind of person who uses an Apple computer because you believe in changing the status quo, you’ll love the new our new range of appliances…

If you drive a Toyota because you like the reliability of the world’s most trusted brand then you’ll love the “ dishwasher, carpet, tiles,

In another test in Columbus, Ohio, a similar tactic was used to increase voter turnout for a presidential election. Prospects were asked by phone if they would vote on Election Day. For those called, answering “yes” to this simple inquiry increased turnout significantly. 25% above the average voter turnout.

ALIGN YOURSELF TO A MORAL HIGH GROUND

Are you a Sharks supporter or a Bulls supporter? You hate the Sharks/Bulls? So you’d rather buy from a Durban business than a Pretoria business? Is your family’s safety important to you...? for R400 more you can have the safer option...

When we align ourselves or our business with predetermined beliefs we can get people to act consistently towards us.

START SMALL AND BUILD ON IT

If your family’s safety is important to you, download our free report on the 7 most powerful ways to deter home theft as revealed through an independent police report. Is saving your family from harm worth 5 minutes of your time to download and read a free report?

Make the report accessible via email, follow reports with an offer that is consistent with one of the seven findings, eg: display a large security sticker. Then sell them the sticker.

A florist in Invercargill called All for Love started a radio advertising campaign and grew their average sale by a massive 50% - their average sale went from $60 to $90. Their advert said, “Just tell us what message you want the flowers to say, is it you love them, miss them, are thinking of them?” Then, when you rang, the florist would ask you questions like, “How important is this person, how important is your relationship with them...?” And after asking these questions it became very hard for the caller to turn around and say, “Oh just send them whatever’s cheapest...”

REMIND PEOPLE OF THEIR EXISTING COMMITMENTS

The key is to get the commitment, which can appear small, reasonable, and innocent. This commitment can not only lead to influence via the principle of consistency but also to further influence for larger requests.