The “Psychology of the plate”

My son today used an interesting turn of phrase – he referred to the process of a sales up-sell that I was explaining to him as the “psychology of the plate”.

I thought he made a great point but I wanted to hear his perspective, so I asked him to tell me about this insight of his.  He pointed out that when I was growing up, supper plates were about 2/3 the size of the supper plates we use now. He reminded me that I had told him that when I was growing up, if I didn’t eat everything on my plate, my parents used to tell me “There are people starving in the world”.  That drive still exists – fill up my plate and eat everything on it.  If I’m at a friend’s, it seems rude to my hosts if I only half fill my plate with food – even if I don’t need a lot of food or am not hungry. And really, if the plate isn’t full I just want more or feel like I’m missing something!!

(Of course we also discussed the implications on people’s health with the advent of these increased plate sizes and the drive to fill them up.)

Does any of this ring true for you?  When you grab that big supper plate, aren’t you subconsciously less satisfied if you don’t fill it up and aren’t you left with a feeling of wanting more if it isn’t filled?

My son rightly pointed out that by providing a bigger supper plate, people add more food to their plate as they are uncomfortable with the plate not being filled – thus the “psychology of the plate”. Likewise, if you provide exceptional client service and give more to your clients than they paid for, you are increasing the ‘plate’ you provide and your client will buy more from you. There’s a balance of course as you absolutely deserve to be paid what you are worth.   One example from the way I approach my business is that I always do grammar and English edits for free when I’m helping someone with a web content issue.  If their content is unusable because of language issues, I tell them and suggest some new approaches.  If a tweak to a sentence or two will improve their sales conversion, I suggest it.  It’s always in the client’s rights to say no thanks, but mainly I’ve found that people are receptive to constructive suggestions.

The proof is in the pudding though right? Yes, I have been able to retain clients , get referral business, and have clients come back to me because they appreciated those little extras that I build in.

So, what about you? How can you increase the size of the plate you  are serving to your clients so that they want more from you?