Dec 03, 2009
Recently, I experienced that it is far more ‘profitable’ to ring bells for the Salvation Army when you partner up with an enthusiastic four-year-old granddaughter. Let me tell you the story, which illustrates some key principles on how to get people to say “yes.”
It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. My wife, Rose, my granddaughter Lucy, and I stood by the exit door of a major Chicagoland food store. We were ringing bells for the Salvation Army, which does charitable work for the distressed and dispossessed. To put it bluntly, we were like beggars on the street. It was obvious to us that many people were choosing to treat us as “the invisible.” They would intentionally avert their eyes from us!
Rose and I knew that if we could get young Lucy involved with the bell ringing, it would certainly help us to fill our bucket. It did not take long for Lucy to become enthused about asking people for money—and the results were outstanding!
It was fascinating to watch as Lucy implemented her “give me money” strategies. She whirled, twirled, and danced with enthusiasm while I hummed aloud a Christmas tune. Every time the exit door opened, she would look people directly in the eye, extend an open hand, and cheerily say, “Happy Holidays!”
I had the pleasure of watching people who would have passed us by… stop. With Lucy standing in their path and with outstretched hand and cheery greeting—they would pull out a dollar bill or their pocket change. She would take the money and put it in the bucket slot. In fact, she quickly became “Queen of the Bucket.” She would clearly express her displeasure when anyone tried to skip her hand to put the money directly in the slot. That was her job! The photo below shows Lucy with left hand outstretched and right hand and arm covering the top of the bucket and the money slot. (This is a candid shot!)
Why was Lucy so successful in getting people to do what she wanted? The answer to that question is important to each one of us who need to get people to say “yes” to our “ask”:
1. She was in alignment with one of the key marketing principles highlighted by Robert Cialdini, PhD in his landmark book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion—she got people to like her. Cialdini refers to ‘liking’ as “the friendly thief.” We will say yes to those we like. Lucy is a cheery little girl who presents a familiar and friendly image. That image triggers a positive association in the eye of the beholder. Nearly everyone knows and loves, or has been loved by, a happy child. When they looked at Lucy, they did not want to disappoint someone that they liked; and
2. She placed herself in their path while clearly and unmistakably confronting people with a straightforward “ask.” Her body position and her outstretched hand were the request, and behind her stood a red bucket and her smiling grandparents; and
3. She never gave up, even when she experienced rejection. When people ignored her or refused to give her money, she simply pulled herself together and got ready for the door to open again. Isn’t that just like a child? They will just keep on asking until they get to ‘yes’ (or your discipline boundary).
What “yeses” do you need to get this week to be more successful in your law practice, your health care community, or your professional practice? Think about Lucy’s lessons and how they can help you fill your bucket! Work to make yourself more likeable and to trigger positive associations within your prospect. Be more direct in asking for what you want and/or a referral. Finally, don’t give up! The first ”no” sets you up for the next opportunity.
By the way, this Christmas and holiday season, please give generously to the many charities like the Salvation Army who serve the under-resourced and those who are in great need.
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