Let’s give it a shot


“One line I often hear in the U.S. is „let’s give it a shot“, and „this is simple, let’s make a small commitment and see how it goes.“ Is the core thought here to get the foot in the door and build the relationship with a small, low-risk try-out?”


That is a very interesting﹣and accurate﹣observation. Although we at CI have not yet begun a research project on the topic of relationship management, I am confident that it is a clear difference, and important one, between Germans and Americans.

Let me explain what I think is at play here.

Persuasion is in the end always about asking the receiver of the message to make a decision: to respond with „yes“ or „no“ to the product or service offered. Or to the idea, concept, suggestion, proposal offered within a team.

The bigger the yes-no question is, the greater is the risk that the receiver will tend to say „no.“ Conversely, the smaller the yes, the less risky, thus, more likely one will get a yes. 

Americans might be more inclined than Germans﹣again, we at CI have not yet done the analysis ﹣to move the relationship with the customer forward via incremental steps, via small yesses. It is not only a trust-building measure. It makes it difficult for the customer at a later stage to say „no“ after having said „yes“ several, or even many, times.

This American inclination is also consistent with another, much stronger, inclination in the U.S.: trial-and-error. As long as the risk (or investment) is not too high, Americans are willing to „try things out“, or as you write to „give it a shot.“

Low-risk try-outs can be of very high value. They produce experience (data), which can help the decision-making process. And frankly, many things simply have to be tested in order to know if they work. There is a reason why so many companies in the U.S. offer potential customers a trial period. Whether it be a physical product or service, „Try it out!“ helps to get the sale. „See for yourself!“ is effective.

So, reducing risk is one reason. A second reason is that trial-and-error is deeply imbedded in American thinking. A third reason might be the American tendency to take complexity and break it down into its component parts.

Reducing complexity is a form of risk management. Americans are sceptical of large, complex, systematic solutions, whether they be products, services, or approaches in general. They’re seen as too risky. See CI’s thoughts on this under Learn_Persuasion_Analytical.