Tip of the day: Because I said so

by | Dec 3, 2017 | Musings, Sell Better: Tip of the day

Did you know that if you give the brain a reason to do something, it’s hardwired to be more inclined to do it?

A study undertaken by Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, conducted a study in 1978 focusing on a queue of people waiting to use a photocopier. (Yes, I do know how old that makes me sound!). Participants were asked to cut into the queue with a request to jump to the front. When they did this with no reason given, they were only granted permission 60% of the time.

However when they did this with the excuse ‘Would you mind if I go to the front, because I’m in a hurry’, their success rate jumped to 94%. Curious about this result, researchers decided to explore whether it was the natureĀ of the excuse that made a difference. So they then asked the queue jumper to use a redundant excuse: ‘…would you mind letting me go ahead because I need to make copies’ and surprisingly this had a 93% success rate.

In other words, everything that came after the word ‘because’ was unnecessary. Because (no pun!) the brain will revert to automatic behaviour if given a good enough – or indeed – any reason. So in selling: make sure you have a reason, but multiply your effect by making that reason compelling.


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