A respondent who complies with a small initial request is more likely to agree to a larger request!
Foot-in-the-door (FITD) is a compliance strategy in which it is believed that someone who initially agrees to a minor request is more likely to agree to a larger or more demanding request. This technique can trace its roots to the time when door-to-door sales were prevalent.
In other words, once the person says ‘yes to a minor request, the odds of rejecting a more significant request get significantly reduced. It is all about transforming a smaller ‘yes’ into a much better and more prominent ‘yes’.
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What is Foot-in-the-Door Technique?
Foot-in-the-door (FITD) is a compliance tactic that convinces a person for a big request by first agreeing with that individual to a modest request. The FITD technique is based on a simple phenomenon that accepting a persuader’s smaller request leads to the acceptance of a much larger appeal.
First of all, the smaller request should be simple, easy, and significant to accept. After the person agrees to it, the persuader can put forth a bigger and better request. It must be kept in mind that the second request should not be something unrelated to the first request.
A Digital Foot-in-the-Door Technique
The digital FITD technique is used extensively in the marketing world. It works on the same principle as traditional FITD, but with a slight twist: Instead of first requesting something from prospects that requires time or money, digital marketers ask for contact information such as email addresses in exchange for free content like blog subscriptions or ebooks.
These items are simple and easy to accept, and after the prospect has taken this initial step, marketers can then move on to larger requests such as filling out a survey or signing up for a free trial. This strategy helps marketers build trust with prospects over time, making it more likely that they will ultimately convert.
History of the Foot-in-the-Door Technique
Johnathan Freedman and Scott Fraser introduced the foot-in-the-door tactic in the year 1966 while conducting, analyzing, and proving the theory of granting smaller requests might lead to agreeing to larger requests.
Their study was later published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1966, Vol. 4, No. 2, 195-202) whose title was- “Compliance Without Pressure: The Foot-in-the-Door Technique.”
They started with the question- “How can a person be induced to do something he would rather not do?” – And then they explained their experiments by first asking a group of people for a small request by telephone and later asking them for a large request in person.
Directly making a huge request largely increases the odds of it getting disregarded by people. But pairing it with a smaller and much simpler request can keep the disappointment away. Moreover, the process doesn’t end at the second request. It is possible to get someone to accept bigger requests after giving the nod to the first request.
Why does the Foot-in-the-Door FITD Technique Work?
The foot-in-the-door tactic works because the acceptance of the first request establishes a certain bond between the interlocutors, which would be the persuader and the person to whom the request is being made.
So, the person cannot deny accepting any subsequent requests made by the persuader. Accepting the requests allows him to project a favorable image of himself. He feels good after lending a helping hand to someone in need.
Both requests need to be correlated with each other. After fulfilling the first request, the person’s magnitude of compliance increases considerably. This is because of an attitude change that leads the person to believe that he is charitable by agreeing to the request.
Theories of Foot-in-the-Door Technique
Different theories and concepts that paved that path of foot-in-the-door techniques are-
1. Self-perception Theory
The foot-in-the-door technique, as mentioned above, creates a certain degree of compliance. This is due to the self-perception theory, which Daryl Bem coined. He proposed that people’s actions are mainly driven by how they view themselves as behaving.
This theory can be tested by surveying people or asking for review requests. People get a sense of satisfaction when they feel that they have helped a stranger.
Back in the day, an experiment was conducted by Freedman and Fraser in which they first surveyed over 150 homemakers regarding the cleaning products they used. 4 groups of participants were created. This small request was made by telephone.
Soon after this, they requested those housewives to let a team check their houses to find out those household products. This bigger request was accepted the most by the housewives in the first group.
2. The Principle of Commitment and Consistency
The principle of commitment and consistency also governs the foot-in-the-door technique. People agree to bigger requests as it helps them behave in a way consistent with their favorable self-image.
An experiment was conducted in which those in the experiment group were made to recall their previous religious behaviors before being asked religious questions. The answers they gave showed that their current beliefs were similar to their past behaviors.
However, the control group displayed contrary results.
The result of this principle can be seen when generating leads or asking for user requests. What propels this forward is the urge of people to complete the action they once started.
3. Mere-agreement Effect
The mere-agreement effect can be seen in the process of community building and using value alignment.
When the two parties interact for the first time, and a small request is made, a bond gets formed between the two. This bond further gets strengthened when the subject is asked questions that have similar answers.
In other words, the mere-agreement effect is based on the fact that similarity results in cooperation.
Using Foot-in-the-Door Technique in Online Sales?
The foot-in-the-door technique can be perfectly used in online sales. Some of the easy steps through which the FITD technique can be used in online marketing and sales are-
1. The persuader should first identify and define a small request that would seem reasonable and appropriate.
2. This first request should be within the capabilities of the visitors. They should not consider itchallengingt to implement. It could be as small as asking for an email address. This is something that people can do without any hesitation.
3. Other examples of small requests could be downloading a brochure, sharing something with others on social platforms, tapping a link, etc. Now comes the time to figure out how to persuade people to accept the consequent request. With their email addresses in hand, the second request can be pitched easily.
4. This larger request can be made without any delay. There shouldn’t be a substantial time gap between the initial and the second request. Remember that both requests should be interconnected.
5. The last step is when the larger request is made. It should be asked with the sole purpose of increasing the conversion rate. This request could ask people to take some big steps like downloading software, purchasing a product, providing credit card details, etc.
Examples of Foot-in-the-Door Technique
If the persuader requests something to do with a noble cause, it has more chances of being agreed to by the subject. People use this technique, either intentionally or unintentionally, in their daily lives.
Such a persuasive technique has gotten the biggest of requests fulfilled. Some of the everyday examples of the foot-in-the-door technique are as follows:
Requests made by son to his mother – Initial Request – Could you lend me your car for tonight? and then the Second Request can be – Can I take your car for four days?
Requests made by a friend to another friend – Initial Request – Could you please look after my dog for 10 minutes while I go out and buy something? and then the Second Request can be – Can you look after my dog as I’ll be away for a week?
When to Apply Foot-in-the-Door Principles
You should use the Foot-in-the-Door technique when-
1) Visitors are typically situated in the middle or bottom sections of the sales funnel.
When implementing the foot-in-the-door technique, it’s crucial to recognize where your visitors are in the purchasing funnel. Those in the middle or bottom are more aware of their needs and more receptive to larger requests. They’ve already expressed interest in your offerings, making it the perfect time to employ this technique.
2) Visitors understand the importance of providing information to receive an accurate answer to their questions.
The foot-in-the-door technique thrives on the principle of commitment. Visitors are well aware that in order to get their queries resolved, they would need to provide some information, acting as the first small commitment. This sets the stage for larger requests, as the visitor is already engaged and more likely to comply.
3) The initial request is straightforward, yet it poses a challenge.
A key factor to the success of the foot-in-the-door technique is that the initial request must be simple enough to get a positive response but not so trivial that it’s disregarded. The initial request serves as a stepping stone to larger commitments, so it must be thoughtfully designed to ensure it’s easy to agree to, but significant enough to create a sense of commitment.
Applications of FITD Technique
Difference instances where FITD techniques are quite preferably used to optimize conversion rates such as-
- Historically, the foot-in-the-door technique was used by door-to-door salesmen. They used it to convince their customers to behave in a particular way. Unfortunately, it is hard to find those salesmen now in this digital world.
- Most online stores use this technique by initially asking for their website visitors’ email addresses. They make a small request to those visitors, which is to subscribe to their newsletter. All this is done to persuade them later to buy their products.
- Salespeople often deploy this tactic by asking people on the streets a question that can be answered without much thought. They then move on to their big question to request people to take up their services.
- Companies in the utility sector ask people questions about their chosen service provider. This helps them to engage in a much more protracted interaction. They use this to their advantage by convincing those people to use their services.
Limitations of FITD
The foot-in-the-door technique isn’t foolproof and there are caveats to consider when using it. Some of its limitations are-
- Over-reliance on FITD may lead to pushy sales tactics
- Not every customer responds positively to frequent requests
- The initial request must be carefully crafted to not turn away potential customers
- Limited effectiveness when the customer is unaware of their needs
- Risk of customer fatigue and disengagement with overuse
- Not all products or services suit the FITD approach
- May not work as effectively in highly competitive markets
- Requires in-depth knowledge of customer behavior and motivations.
Door in the Face Technique (Opposite of FITD)
The foot-in-the-door technique focuses on convincing a person to accept proportionate requests. The initials submission should be given considerable thought before being made. It should not sound absurd.
The person should perceive it as important. He should be able to feel like he is friendly and helpful to someone. This is the only way to prevent the request from getting denied. At the same time, it should not sound too complex to implement.
However, the door-in-the-face technique works on a contrary principle. In this technique, the persuader straightaway throws a bigger request in front of the person. Then once the acceptance is given, he asks for the second request, a much smaller one this time.
The first request generally comes across as huge and impractical. So, after listening to such a request, the person can’t reject the subsequent smaller request.
For instance, someone asks for the price of a shirt from a seller. The seller quotes a price that is five times more than the value the shirt is offering. As expected, the person finds the price highly unreasonable.
So, when the seller makes a more realistic offer, which can even be three times more than the person’s expectations, it is likely to get accepted.
On a concluding note, it can be said that the foot-in-the-door technique is a good way of convincing people by asking them first for something small, then when they fulfill such a request, you will be in a more favorable position to make a big request.
Finally, it is clear that a small agreement plays a key role in creating a bond between the requester and the requested that can further be converted for larger requests.
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