Commitment and Consistency

by Ryan M. Healy

in Business, Lessons, Psychology

On Monday, I took my wife and two older kids to Ringling’s Barnum & Bailey Circus here in Denver. To get to the Denver Coliseum, we first had to drop off our youngest with my mother-in-law, then drive for 40 minutes north through downtown.

We parked, hiked in a few blocks, picked up our tickets at Will Call, and finally found our seats ringside on the lower level.

Which leads me to concessions.

During intermission, guys were walking up and down the rows hawking sno-cones, cotton candy, and light-up doo-dads.

My daughter asked if we could get some cotton candy. Normally, I say “no” to such requests. Then I thought: “This is probably the one time we’ll be at a circus for the next two or three years. Why not?”

And so I decided I’d get her some cotton candy. I handed her a $5 bill and flagged down the cotton candy man.

“How much?” I asked.

“$12,” he said.

At this point, a normal, sane person would politely decline. After all, $12 for a wimpy little bag of cotton candy is practically theft.

But momentum was not moving in my favor.

You see, as I’ve explained, we had spent more than an hour just getting to the Denver Coliseum… we had already spent $44 on tickets and $5 on parking… I had given my daughter $5 to buy the cotton candy… and I had just flagged down this guy to help us.

I couldn’t back out now, could I?


So I pulled out a $10 bill, combined it with the $5, and turned over the cash. We got our cotton candy, and my daughter proclaimed it was “the best day of her life.”

As I sat there thinking about what had happened, I knew exactly why I’d spent $12 on cotton candy.

It was commitment and consistency in action.

After taking so many steps in one direction, I didn’t want to change course. To do so would have been inconsistent with all the steps I had already taken.

The principles of commitment and consistency are what drive back-of-the-room sales after people have gone to great lengths to attend a seminar. And they are the same principles that take people from opting in to a list… to ultimately becoming customers.

How can you use commitment and consistency to ethically boost sales in your business?

-Ryan M. Healy

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  • Haha, I've done that so many times when I'm out with my fiancee it's not even funny.

    I never thought of it in terms of marketing though...good job realizing it!

    Jeremy Reeves
  • Ryan,

    Excellent post indeed.

    I have recommended to a restaurant owner (client) that they offer a "sample dessert" plate at the end of a meal...where just tiny pieces of different desserts were placed on one plate at the table.

    Once the customers sampled the dessert...they were "committed"...and felt it necessary to order dessert.

    Dessert sales rose for this restaurant within 90 days a substantial amount.

    Maybe a bad example...but great post Ryan!

  • Of's just a bit easier to commit to your cute, little girl than a faceless client list. ;-)

    But seriously...I think when you're consistent, you're showing commitment. And when you exhibit commitment, you'll naturally be consistent.

    It's like in sports...without the follow-through your shot or your drive or your pass isn't as accurate, and your goal isn't as easily attained.

    So; stay in touch with your clients and/or customers. This lets them know you actually care about them and their business. That's building a relationship, and relationships are what consistently "sell" over time. more $12 cotton candy...lesson learned, eh?
  • Isn't this the strategy behind back-end sales on the internet. How often is an ebook offered for $5 and as soon as you buy it, bang! To really benefit from the ebook, you also need to buy a $45 back-end product! I love those thank-you pages which say, "This is a one time offer. You will not be able to refresh this page". Gotcha!
  • "But momentum was not moving in my favor."

    Good post again, Ryan, although it seems like the momentum was probably in the sellers' favour.

    Your commitment to buy ended with them profiting from it.
  • My bad. Guess I should learn to read first.

    You certainly nailed that one.
  • @Jeremy - It happens to all of us, probably more often than we think. Half the battle is just being conscious of what's going on around us.

    @Joe - Great example! That's a brilliant idea -- letting customers sample the dessert first... for free.

    @Tony - "Relationships are what consistently 'sell' over time." Good point; I agree.

    @Farhad - Yes, it is the same principle that makes upsells work. The more steps involved, the greater the power of consistency. In the model you describe, only about 20-30% will take an upsell because there's only been one step in the process.

    @Rezbi - Yep, momentum was moving against me in the sense that I was about to part with $12 for something not really worth $12.
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