Shared birthdays, personal connections can improve sales

July 21st, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, July 21 (IANS) If a salesperson shares a birthday or a birthplace with you, you’re more likely to make a purchase and feel good about it, according to a study.
“This research examines how the fundamental human need to connect with others plays a role in sales encounters,” say study authors Lan Jiang, JoAndrea Hoegg, Darren W. Dahl, from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver.

In one of the studies, a personal trainer introduced participants to a fitness program. People who discovered that they shared the same birthday with the trainer reported that they liked the program better and were more interested in purchasing a membership.

In another study, patients who learned that they were born in the same place as a dentist reported a more favourable attitude toward the dental care they received and showed a higher willingness to book their next appointment with that same clinic.

“Across individuals, we found that naturally social people are more responsive to such coincidences,” say the authors. “On the other hand, people who tend to isolate themselves from the outside world are less sensitive.”

The researchers concluded that revealing personal information helps service providers create connections and initiate conversations with customers, said a UBC release.

When information is provided on name tags or on web sites (as many health organisations and fitness centres do), most consumers react positively. However, when service providers exhibit negative behaviour, like rudeness, the shared similarity loses its positive influence.

Finally, faking a connection is not an effective sales tactic.

“Creating misleading or fake similarities with a customer as a persuasion technique could lead to negative outcomes if the similarities are found to be disingenuous,” say the researchers. “To mitigate the chances of this outcome, salespeople must be careful not to falsely claim similarities.”

These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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