The Principle of Scarcity

by | Oct 17, 2016

By Tom Mann, Principal, Executive Vice President

Nintendo Wii ConsoleWe continue to discuss the Principles of Influence and how they relate to selling to seniors. Thus far, we have covered four of the six – Consistency, Likability, Authority and Social Proof. Today, we’ll be covering The Principle of Scarcity.

When supplies of something are short, we humans are more likely to want it! … “It’s the last one in the shop!” For those of you without kids, the image above is a Nintendo Wii, which is a beautiful example of planned scarcity. Amazing, isn’t it, how this huge corporation somehow is always caught off-guard by the overwhelming demand for their product. Hmmm?

Do people know when your retirement community is about to become complete or sold out? Even better, how about the first phase? Even better, how about the first floor of the first building with the limited number of views towards the lake? Regardless of what you are selling, you need to tell your audience how scarce your supply is– creating scarcity is a key to success. And being able to offer an exact number increases the power of scarcity.

Don’t think this is powerful for selling to boomers and seniors? Let me give you an example:

I happen to know of a retirement community where seniors who called in to schedule visits were given very tight appointment times (this community only scheduled appointments on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday … and would only move on to the next day if the first one was filled).

When the people showed up for their appointments, they were often “in line” waiting for the retirement counselor to see them. The busier the sales office was, and the longer people had to wait (to a point), the more successful the sales person became. Why? Because social proof and scarcity are two very powerful principals. Grouping the appointments in a tight schedule was a strategic decision. You need to be very conscious in your efforts of “displaying” social proof and scarcity. If you are not, you’re cheating your business.

Editor’s note: The ethics of stacking appointments in this case was very real, as the counselors were trying to group similar work tasks (i.e. Monday and Fridays are “call” and “event” days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are appointment days, etc.). This is a result of real traffic.  The unintended result (which was later observed by an outsider, me) was that the sense of scarcity was real.

In our next blog in this series we’ll be talking about The Principle of Reciprocity.

Source: Dr. Robert Cialdini

For more information on how you can improve your sales team, contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013.

Attending LeadingAge National? Be sure to attend our sessions, Predictive Modeling: Identifying the Prospects Most Likely to Buy, and Staying Competitive and Preparing for the Future. See you in Indianapolis!

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