Be the first to reply or connect – you will sell more

You Need to be FirstFirst come, first served – so the saying goes. But perhaps it ought to be changed to first come, first bought.  Research shows that people respond more positively to the first sales person they meet in a store, or the first person to respond to their request. In other words, being first has a clear advantage.

After all, when the Olympic 100m sprint has finished at just after 21.50 on Sunday 5th August will you really remember who came fifth, sixth or seventh? You will recall the first person over the line and you may have sympathy for the last one, but the people in the middle – who were they again…? Who was first to set foot on the moon? Can you remember the third person, or the ninth? And what about your 27th sexual encounter? Remember it? I thought not. But your first time? Aha…!

There is a special relationship with “first” in many instances. We can remember the first things – sometimes the last things – but rarely things in between. This is because of a psychological phenomenon to do with “primacy”. People tend either to have firm associations with the first things they encounter, or they are people who are dominated by “recency” where they connect more with the most recent things. Research shows that the vast majority of us are “primacy” people – we tend to connect mostly with the first things we see, do, or take part in. It’s why the opening of a speech is more important than the middle or the closing. It is why the first people on talent shows tend to get more votes than the people in the middle. And now it seems it’s also why the first sales person to engage with someone in a store is probably the one who makes the most commission.

If you are in a shop and you are approached by a number of different sales people as you wander around you might say politely, “just looking, thanks”. But when you do decide you need a sales assistant, the research suggests you will look for the first sales person who approached you.

So, if being first has an advantage for a sales person in this way, just think what advantages it has online. For instance, if you are first to respond to an email sent to a group of people, then the research suggests your views will take precedence. Equally, if you are invited to tender for work by a prospective client, being the first to get your submission in could well have and advantage. And if you take part in LinkedIn Answers being the first to respond to a question means you come to dominate things – indeed LinkedIn retains your answer at the top of the list.

Oh – by the way – who is first on Google for your most wanted keyword? And who is 33rd? Who cares?

Being first matters. So come on, be the first to comment…!

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones

@grahamjones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
More evidence for the negative impact of social media. "Social Media’s Negative Impact on How We View Our Bodies"… https://t.co/3l2DsYEac5 - 7 hours ago
Graham Jones

6 thoughts on “Be the first to reply or connect – you will sell more

  1. Am I first…?

    Sadly I think you may be right – especially when it comes to being number one on Google. I say sadly, because as someone working for an internet marketing agency we want to get away from the idea that it’s number one or nothing, as it can lead to bad business decisions.

    Any thoughts on how to be in it to win it without sacrificing integrity?

    • Congratulations Katie on being the first to comment…! Being number one on Google matters – but then it also doesn’t matter. It is “number one or nothing” if a company ONLY relies on search engine marketing. But Google itself points out that, on average, being No 1 on Google is only responsible for around 25% of a site’s traffic. Some of the worst SEO specialists will say that is nonsense and that when they get people to No 1 the company gets most of its traffic from Google. But that’s a self fulfilling prophecy. If you only look for business in one place (top of Google) then that’s where all your business comes from. But it means you ignore the other potential 75% which Google’s data shows. So it’s not about being No 1 on Google per se. But about being No 1 in the mind of customers and potential customers. If I say “airline” who is the No 1 company you think of? If I say “TV Soap” which is the first thing that comes to mind? Companies need to be No 1 in our minds, not just No 1 on Google. Being No 1 on Google definitely helps with that, but it is only part of the story. Sadly, far too many online businesses and some of the worst SEO “gurus” reckon it is the only thing companies need to do.

      • Great advice Graham – that definitely ties in with the mindset we try to encourage with our clients. If you are genuinely number one in your industry than you are more likely to deserve a number one ranking..

        But as you say, there are many out there who promote rankings as a goal in and of itself, which gets you nowhere fast.

  2. I guess I’m #2, at least of valid none spam comments. Either way according to the study it won’t matter. 🙂

    Another problem with the idea that only #1 on Goggle is what matters, is there can only be ONE #1. If you just can’t seem to snare that #1 position, it has to leave a feeling of not being good enough, possibly leading you to unscrupulous means to try to get there. Kind of a vicious cycle.

    Great information.

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