Reciprocity theory is best reserved for those particularly challenging clients that you just can’t get over the line with the normal sales processes. I had one such client just over two years ago.

When we first introduced our SLA concept to our client base in 2005, some clients loved the model and jumped on board immediately. Others were not convinced and needed some time to wrap their heads around the idea, and one particular client was completely opposed to signing on the dotted line.

I had known this client for over 30 years, and he was convinced that the SLA concept was of no benefit to him and, in fact, was certain that I was just creating my retirement fund. His statement to me was, “When hell freezes over, I’ll sign up to an SLA.” I took this as a maybe, and I knew I would have to work on this particular client to get him over the line.

Only a few months later, the perfect opportunity presented itself. His network was having major issues, and he rang for support. Our technician found that most of his computers were about 80 patches out of date.

The client asked the technician how much it would cost to fully patch his network and correct his problems. I had a different idea.

I told the client we would patch his network for free. We would put him on an SLA for one month at no charge. We would install our SLA monitoring software on his network so it would be automatically patched, and he would receive a weekly IT report. If, after a month, he still didn’t like the SLA concept, we would just uninstall our monitoring software.

For the client, it sounded too good to be true. He didn’t want to sign an SLA, and he had made that abundantly clear—so he was just going to have his problems fixed for free. This was going to be a test for reciprocity theory.

I needn’t have doubted. It only took weeks for reciprocity magic to work. I received an e-mail three weeks later that said, “Hell just froze over!”

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