Get Your Foot In the Door: The Importance of The Foot-In-The-Door Strategy in Sales

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Has anyone asked you to smell scented perfume on crowded streets? Do sellers ask questions about your product? Yes. These miraculous events have a place in this door technique.

Welcome! We are so glad you stopped by to learn more about this door technique. We’d like to take some time to walk you through the importance of this strategy, answer any questions you may have, and make sure you leave feeling informed about this strategic sales. So let’s get started!

What is Foot-In-The-Door Strategy

The Foot-In-The-Door Strategy is a sales technique used to draw in customers, create leads, and close sales. It involves making a small request first before making a larger request later.

The goal is to gain the trust of the customer before making a bigger commitment. By making a small request, customers are more likely to comply with a larger request.

This door technique has been used successfully by salespeople for many years. This marketing strategy can be used to build relationships with customers and increase sales.

Overview of the Foot-In-The-Door Technique

In 1967, Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser conducted their first studies on the door technique at Stanford University.

Freedman and Fraser asked people to submit a simple request by phone. Also, they asked people to complete their tasks by telephone.

Initially, subjects were asked to report on the most common cleaning items and then asked to give their research samples for analysis and a questionnaire.

The Foot-in-the-Door technique is a marketing and sales technique that involves building trust and relationships with customers.

By using this method, businesses can gain an initial agreement from customers that can lead to larger commitments in the future. The Foot-in-the-Door technique allows businesses to start small and build relationships over time.

Let’s dig deeper into this strategy to learn more about it:


1. Increased customer trust

By beginning with small requests and gradually increasing commitments, businesses can build trust and credibility with customers. This can lead to increased customer loyalty over time.

2. Improved customer relationships

When customers are comfortable with the process and trust the business, they are more likely to make larger commitments in the future.

3. Increased sales

As customers become more comfortable with the process and make larger commitments, businesses can generate more sales and revenue.

4. Reduced costs

Because the Foot-in-the-Door technique involves making small requests, businesses can save money on advertising and marketing costs, as well as on the cost of customer acquisition. Overall, the Foot-in-the-Door technique is an effective way for businesses to reduce and earn more.


The Foot-in-the-Door technique is a persuasive technique. While this approach can be successful in some scenarios, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks.

1. The Foot-in-the-Door technique can be viewed as manipulative

By making a small request first, the persuader attempts to gain agreement and commitment before the target is aware of the full scope of the request. This can be seen as deceitful and can result in mistrust and resentment.

2. The Foot-in-the-Door technique approach can create a false sense of agreement

The target may agree to the initial small request, but this does not necessarily mean that they will agree to the larger request. They may simply be too polite to say no to the initial request.

3. The Foot-in-the-Door technique can be time-consuming and inefficient

The persuader has to spend time and energy developing and presenting the initial small request to gain agreement for the larger one. This can be a lengthy process and can lead to frustration and wasted resources.

Overall, the Foot-in-the-Door technique can be effective in some situations, but it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks.

How does the Foot-in-the-Door technique work?

Let’s discuss how the Foot-in-the-Door technique works and how it can be used in various contexts.

1. Establishing Trust and Rapport for the initial relationship

You would start by asking a few simple questions that are related to the topic of conversation. This will help to establish a connection and give you an understanding of the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

Once you have a good understanding, you can start to build trust and rapport by using the Foot-in-the-Door technique.

This is where you ask for a small commitment first, such as asking for their opinion on a certain topic, before asking for a larger commitment, such as carrying out a joint project.

This will help to build trust and rapport as the other person knows that you are not asking for too much too soon.

Additionally, you will be sure to listen carefully and demonstrate that you value the other person’s opinion. This can help to create a strong connection and foster a feeling of trust and rapport.

2. Asking for a small initial request

Firstly, a smaller, easier request is made, which people are more likely to agree to. This request should be non-threatening and low-risk.

It should also be relevant to the larger, more difficult request that is going to follow. For example, if someone is trying to get someone to donate to a charity, they might start by asking for contact information.

Once the initial request has been agreed to, the larger, more difficult request can then be made. This request should be related to the initial request and should build on the initial agreement.

Continuing the example, after the contact information has been given, the request for the donation can then be made.

By making the smaller request first, the foot-in-the-door strategy can create a sense of commitment and obligation in the person being asked, making them more likely to comply with the larger request.

3. Making Large Request

Here are the steps on how to make a large request:

  • Begin by making a small request. This should be easy for the other person to agree to. For example, you could ask if they are willing to share their opinion on a certain topic.
  • After they agree to the small request, make a slightly larger request. This should be something that builds on the first request. You could ask them to answer a few more questions related to the topic.
  • Once they agree to the second request, make a larger request. This could be something like asking if they would be willing to help you with a project related to the topic.
  • Repeat this process as needed, gradually increasing the size of the request until you reach your desired outcome. Make sure to be respectful and understanding of the person’s limits and feelings.

Three theories that explain why the Foot-in-the-Door technique works

The foot-in-the-door effect is primarily explained by self-perception theory, but it doesn’t have to be.

Two other ideas appear as a result of the “commitment and consistency” principle by Robert Beno Cialdini, an American psychologist. The foot-in-the-door effect is observed in different circumstances in various contexts.

1. Cognitive Consistency Theory

According to this theory, when people comply with a small request, they experience internal pressure to remain consistent with their behavior and comply with a bigger request.

This is because when people make decisions, they strive to maintain a consistent pattern of behavior. By agreeing to a small request, people create an expectation for themselves that they will agree to a larger request related to the same topic.

2. Norm of Reciprocity Theory

This theory suggests that when people comply with a request, regardless of size, they may feel a sense of obligation to comply with a bigger request due to a feeling of indebtedness.

This is because people are socialized to believe that if someone does something nice for them, they should return the favor in some way.

By complying with the initial request, people feel obligated to respond positively to a bigger request as a way of returning the favor.

3. Social Exchange Theory

This theory suggests that people weigh the costs and benefits of their decisions and will only comply with requests if they perceive that the benefits outweigh the costs.

According to this theory, when people comply with a small request, they are more likely to comply with a larger request due to the perceived increased benefits of doing so.

This is because people view the larger request as being of greater value than the small request, and thus are more likely to comply.

Examples of the Foot-in-the-Door technique

1. In-person sales or door-to-door salespeople

Here are the steps on how the door-to-door salesman does the foot-in-the-door technique:

  • Establish a Connection: Start by introducing yourself and your company to customers. Explain the value of your product and how it can benefit them. Ask open-ended questions to learn more about their needs and interests.
  • Offer a Small Commitment: Ask customers to make a small commitment such as signing up for a free trial or attending an informational session.
  • Make the Big Ask: Once customers have made a small commitment, use the foot-in-the-door strategy to make the big ask. Explain how purchasing your product will benefit them and make sure to address any concerns or objections they have.
  • Close the Sale: Offer incentives such as discounts or free shipping to make the sale more attractive. Make sure to answer any remaining questions and be sure to thank the customer for their time.

2. Online Sales

  • Reach out to potential customers online with a free offer. This could be a free sample, a discount on their first purchase, or even a free consultation.
  • Use this initial offer to build trust and establish a positive rapport with the customer.
  • Once the customer has accepted the offer and expressed interest, introduce them to a more expensive product or service. Explain the value it provides and how it might benefit them.
  • Offer the customer a special deal on the more expensive item. This could be a discount, free shipping, or a bundle package.
  • Follow up with the customer after the purchase. Ask for feedback that will be posted to your social media accounts and see if there are any other products or services they may be interested in.
  • Repeat the process with other customers.

3. Cold calling

Cold calling is a sales technique used to establish contact with potential customers and generate interest in a product or service. Cold calling can be an effective way to reach potential customers, build relationships, and close sales.

The foot-in-the-door strategy begins with a salesperson making a cold call and presenting an attractive offer, such as a discounted product or trial offer.

The goal of this initial contact is to get the customer to agree to the smaller purchase and establish a relationship with the customer.

Once the customer has agreed to the initial offer, the salesperson can then move on to more expensive products or services.

How effective is the foot-in-the-door technique?

The foot-in-door technique was discovered by Jonathan Freedman in 1966. According to a study, salespeople tend to spend 35% more time engaging with customers during the sales cycle compared to when they’re selling established products and services.

The foot-in-doors approach is further demonstrated to have been a successful method by many researchers. Sherman (1980) found an association between the foot-in-the-door phenomenon and consistency.


The foot-in-the-door strategy has been an effective tool in sales for many years. It has been used to create relationships with customers and to increase sales.

By using this strategy, salespeople can build trust with customers and create a sense of loyalty. Furthermore, the foot-in-the-door strategy can also be used to make customers feel more comfortable when making a purchase.

This strategy has proven to be effective in sales and can be used to great effect by those in the industry.

About the Author!

Joe Troyer is the Founder of Digital Triggers. He is a leading expert in all things Internet Marketing: Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Google Business, Reputation Management, Landing Page Conversion, and Call Tracking.

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