I’m in the middle of reading Influence by Robert Cialdini. The book is a fascinating look at ways to motivate and persuade. Two days ago, I learned just how easy I am influenced when a nice sophomore name Kelsey from NYU called me:
“Hi this is Kelsey calling from NYU alumni relations.”
“Each year we call alums to make sure their info is correct in our system.” She says breaking the nice. When we verify that my information is correct. She moves to create commitment:
“Did you like you time at Gallatin (the school I went to at NYU)?”
“I loved it.” I launch into a diatribe about why Gallatin and NYU are great schools and how much she must love being a student there. Now having established how much I love NYU, Kelsey uses my commitment to the greatness of NYU to go for the kill.
“Well that’s awesome. You know, in order to support our great school we make these phone calls and ask for alumni donations. Would you like to make a donation today?”
Damn it! I knew that was coming. As Cialdini would point out, I’m already committed to loving NYU, so how can I not support the institution I love? That would be inconsistent.
“Okay,” I agree. “How much are you asking for?” At this point the number $25 is emblazoned in my mind. I can afford to give $25.
“Well donations start at the $250 level.” What?! Now I’m willing to bet that less than one-percent of the alumni they call donate $250 or more. But that’s not the point. Kelsey is giving me a chance to reject her, so that she can offer a lesser amount. By offering a lesser amount Kelsey appears to be doing me a favor. This favor begets reciprocation. Which means I donate the lesser amount. The lesser amount turns out to be…
“We also accept donations at the $50 level.” I reciprocate, donating twice as much as I had wanted to.
So even in the midst of savvying up to the influences that pervade our sales driven world, I was suckered, I was influenced.