I was just reading Guy Kawasaki’s post on disrupt-then-reframe selling, which introduced me to an interesting piece of research done by Prof. Knowles at the University of Arkansas on social influence by reducing resistance. I will attempt to summarize the key findings of one their techniques to reducing resistance here:
The Disrupt-Then-Reframe Technique – Basic idea nugget here is that during an argument/persuasion discussion, injecting an unexpected element/viewpoint into the argument will disrupt the critical reasoning around the main argument and then followed by reframing the argument (positively reframing), one can hope to obtain a positive outcome. The cited example in the research study is as follows – Barbara Davis and Prof. Knowles went door-to-door selling note cards for charity. When they told potential customers that the note cards were for $3.00, they had a 40% success rate, however, when they told the customers that the note cards were for 300 pennies (disruption), which was a bargain (reframing), sales climbed to 80%. Guy (jokingly, I think) suggests that one may try this for VC’s saying something like this, “Our pre-money valuation is 500,000,000 pennies which is a bargain for a Web 2.0 company.”
I have serious doubts that this will actually work for a Web 2.0 company. The problem, I think, is that the technique is rendered ineffective at the large numbers being used. While 300 pennies might not evoke a strong reaction and may even be confusing for people so that they just give-in to the call for action, 500,000,000 pennies surely will only generate just one reaction: confusion. Surely, confusion can’t really be a good thing when asking for money from a VC. Prof. Knowles research also talks about how approaches like this work for smaller monetary amounts than larger monetary amounts, though no speculation on why that might be the case.