Put simply, reciprocity is a principle which follows by giving a little something you get a little something in return.
Most often, this occurs without you even realising. The principle explains the feeling of indebtedness when someone has done you a favour which you feel obliged to return - i.e. if a friend helps you to build a fence in your garden, you will be more likely to repay the favour when called upon.
In the context of selling, there are a number of ways that you can leverage reciprocity to achieve positive business outcomes. Forming the first of his 6 Principles of Persuasion, Professor Robert Cialdini explains in his book that reciprocity can be harnessed deliberately in order to achieve cooperation.
Examples in business can include:
- An invitation to an industry event
- Corporate hospitality
- Providing a report with insight which a client/prospect can apply to their business
- Referrals and introductions
Using content can be an effective strategy to generate reciprocity. By offering advice or an opinion around an issue which you know is of importance to your contact, you can effectively nurture the relationship and develop your influence.
Cialdini’s first principle of persuasion states that we human beings are wired to basically want to return favors and pay back our debts. In short… to treat others as they’ve treated us. The idea of reciprocity says that people by nature feel obliged to provide either discounts or concessions to others if they’ve received favors from those others. Psychology explains this by stressing that we humans simply hate to feel indebted to other people!