A couple of weekends ago, my wife hosted a golf outing to benefit Conservation International. Jane works for Integrated Leadership Systems and the owner of her company, Steve Anderson, is passionate about helping to preserve the environment. During her seven years at ILS, Jane has become passionate about the environment too.
A few years ago, she realized she could combine her passion for the environment with her love of golf to host an annual event to raise money for this good cause. This was her fourth outing and each year the number of golfers grows and so does the fundraising.
If you’ve ever played in a golf outing that’s a fundraiser, then you know there are lots of opportunities to help a good cause. Most of the opportunities come by way of paying to play certain games in hopes of bettering your team’s score.
I ran one of the games for Jane. As each foursome approached the tee box, I jokingly said, “I want two things; a group picture and your money.” That always got a laugh. After taking a picture of the foursome, I’d ask if they would like to take a chance on possibly improving their score on the hardest hole on the course.
Everyone was intrigued so I explained the game. I had a bag with 10 poker chips. One of the chips represented an eagle (two under par for the hole), there were two chips for birdies (one under par), there were five pars (what they should shoot on the hole), and two bogeys (one over par which is not good).
If you do the math, there’s a 30% chance of guaranteeing a score better than par. I’d ask if they would like to pay $10 to reach into the bag and pull out one chip. Knowing they had almost a one in three chance of assuring themselves of an under-par score on the hardest hole, everyone agreed to give it a try.
Salesmanship came in after they pulled the first chip. The vast majority of teams didn’t pull an eagle or a birdie as you would expect because the odds were not in their favor. Then I asked if they would be interested in taking another chance if I cut the price in half, only asking for $5 for a second pull. That’s a better deal and their odds of getting a good score went up a little because now there were only nine chips in the bag. Everyone took me up on that offer.
If they didn’t pull the eagle on that second try, I had one more opportunity. Even if they’d pulled a birdie chip, I let them know that they now had a one in eight chance of getting the eagle. If they’d been unlucky enough to have pulled pars or bogeys on their first two tries then they were still hoping they might better their score with a birdie or eagle (a three in seven chance now!). To really sweeten the deal, my third sales approach was letting them have two pulls from the bag for just $5.
As you might imagine, the only groups who didn’t agree to my third offer were the ones who had pulled the eagle on either the first or second try. Everyone else, having sunk a little money into the game, and realizing that their odds we’re improving, said yes to my final offer.
A total of 15 groups came through, all played, and more than $300 in cash was collected for a good cause. There were lots of laughs and most groups ended up with a birdie or eagle.
Think about my approach. I could have asked for $20 right off the bat and I’m sure a good number of groups would have agreed to that. Of course, they would have felt like they wasted their money if they’d pulled the eagle on the first try. I’m also pretty sure many groups would have decline paying $20 so it’s very likely I would not have collected as much money.
I’m sure you realize by now that my approach was still $20 for four pulls. But, how I went about making the offer made a big difference in terms of the willingness to play the game. The first pull for $10 seemed reasonable. Having a half price opportunity on the second attempt was too good to pass up. Getting a two-for-one opportunity on the final try was a great deal by comparison, especially when the odds of getting the eagle or birdie improved significantly!
How Does This Apply to You?
I share my approach to alert you to this reality; how you make your offer can make all the difference between hearing yes and hearing no. This goes beyond simple game at a golf outing. It applies to the goods or services that you sell. Understanding how people make comparisons, then structuring your deal to show the most value will help you win more often than not.
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s new release bestseller. His new book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable.
Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!