Foot in the Door

Foot in the Door

Foot in the Door Jonathan Poland

The foot-in-the-door technique is a persuasion strategy that involves asking for a small favor or agreement first, before making a larger request. The idea is that by starting with a small request, the person being asked will be more likely to agree to the larger request, since they have already committed to the smaller one.

This technique is based on the idea that people are more likely to agree to a request if they have already agreed to something similar in the past. For example, if a salesperson asks a customer if they would be willing to try a sample of a product, the customer is more likely to agree to buy the product later on. This technique can be used as either a long-term strategy or an immediate tactic, depending on the situation.

The foot-in-the-door technique is often used in sales and marketing, but it can also be applied in other situations, such as asking for a raise or a favor from a friend. By starting with a small request, you can build rapport and trust with the other person, making them more likely to agree to your larger request. The following are illustrative examples.


Asking for something small that the other person is likely to grant to create a friendly environment such that the other person feels bad to deny a second larger request. ex. We’re going on vacation next week, could you keep an eye on our house? Sure. Actually, we also don’t have anyone to look after our dogs, could you feed them and walk them three times a day?


A salesperson for an outsourcing firm pitches an excellent price to take over a single business process that is a pain point for the customer. The customer accepts and the salesperson uses this relationship to pitch much larger deals spanning hundreds of processes.


Accepting any kind of work from a firm that you really want to work for as a long term approach to securing the job you really want. The idea is that once your on the inside you can network and impress people with your work. For example, accepting casual work in hopes of going full time.


Consulting firms commonly try hard to get a few consultants placed at a major firm so that they can attempt to grow their footprint. The first consultants sent to such an engagement are typically highly skilled with an ability to build relationships and sell the brand.

Razor & Blades

Razor and blades is a business model that involves selling a product that consumes proprietary supplies. The razor may be sold cheaply as a foot in the door with the hope that customers will purchase blades on a recurring basis.

Product Ecosystems

A series of products and services that work together such that once you buy one it is to your advantage to buy more. A central element of the ecosystem may be sold cheaply as a foot in the door to cross-sell a broad array of compatible offerings. For example, a mobile device that is part of an ecosystem of apps, media, data, accessories and peripheral devices.

Free Trials

Free trials are a foot in the door to get a customer to use your products and services. For example, a software service with a free trial may quickly become difficult to leave as you begin to enter data and integration the software with other things.


Prototypes and feasibility studies are often used as a foot in the door by salespeople or employees who want to influence strategy. For example, a product manager at a beverage company wants to launch a non-alcoholic beer but faces resistance. As a foot in the door, they propose a low cost project to develop an initial formulation and test it. This gets the strategy moving and they can grow it from there.

Contact Details

A marketer or fundraiser that asks for something small and then asks for contact details that can be used to pitch much larger offers. ex. Could you donate $2 towards cleaning up ocean plastic? Sure. Can I get your contact details for our monthly newsletter about environmental issues?


Asking an influencer if they will try a free product or service to give you feedback. If the feedback is positive, ask them for a testimonial.


Foot in the door may be used to sell memberships such as customer loyalty card programs. ex. Would you like a free 1 year warranty with these shoes? Sure, I guess. Would you like to join our members program for points towards free stuff?

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