The Power of “Because” with Price Shoppers

In 1978, researchers at Harvard did a study of the power of the word “because.”

They had people request to break in on a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine on a college campus. (Remember that this was the 1970′s. People didn’t have home computers and printers. They did a lot more copying back then, so there were often lines waiting to use a copy machine).

The researchers had the people use three different, specifically worded requests to break in line:

  • “Excuse me; I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
  • “Excuse me; I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
  • “Excuse me; I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”

Did the wording affect whether people let them break in line? Here are the results:

  • “Excuse me; I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”: 60% compliance.
  • “Excuse me; I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”: 93% compliance.
  • “Excuse me; I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”: 94% compliance.

Using the word “because” and then giving a reason resulted in significantly more compliance. This was true even when the reason was not very compelling (“because I have to make copies”).

Why am I telling you about the power of “because,” and how does this relate to funeral home price shoppers?

Quite simply…if you are struggling to win price shoppers, there is an excellent chance that you are not using the power of “because”.

One of my clients described how almost fired one of his employees after hearing her answer a price shopper call.

Someone called the funeral home and asked, “How much is a basic cremation?”.

The employee provided the price for a direct cremation, the caller said thank you, and they both hung up.

I told my client that it sounded like he had a script and training problem, not necessarily an employee problem.

The employee had never been trained on how to handle a price shopper caller, so that was a problem. But the bigger problem was that the owner had never taken the time to develop a script that included a “because”.

In this particular case, my client had his own crematory, which meant he controlled the security of the process. His price was $1,795, which was higher than the discounters in town. We developed the following script.

“Our basic cremation is $1,795 because we have additional security procedures. Would you like to speak to one of our funeral directors?”

The employee was trained to use that script, and they instantly saw an increase in callers who wanted to speak with a funeral director.

You can think of your “because” as a bridge that connects your statement to the action you desire. Your price is the statement and talking with a funeral director is the outcome you desire.

I believe this works because we are programmed to ask “why?” at an early age. Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to clean my room? Why do I have to eat broccoli? Some parents try the “because I said so” method, but after raising four children, I never found that approach overly useful.

We outgrow the habit of saying “why?” out loud, but subconsciously we still ask the question and are looking for a response.

When someone calls your funeral home and asks the price, what they are really asking is for you to give them a reason to choose you. If you just give them a price without a “because” you’ve just told them that you offer a commodity service and that price is the only difference.

How has COVID-19 impacted price shoppers?

All of my clients have reported an increase in price shoppers and direct cremations during the pandemic. Also, the price shoppers seem a little more desperate than usual. They are not desperate about finding the lowest price; they are just hoping to find someone who can help them.

That makes total sense to me. People are stressed, searching for information that helps them make a good choice for their family during an incredibly difficult time.

If COVID-19 is creating desperate callers, it makes it even more vital for you to provide a “because”. They really do not want to have to call someone else, but they will if you do not give them a reason to choose your funeral home.

Complete the following sentence for your funeral home, measure the results, and fine-tune it until you start winning price shoppers.

“Our price for a basic cremation starts at [insert your price] because [insert a reason the caller will care about].”

In the Engaging Price Shoppers section of my Funeral Business Builder book, I recommend giving a price range rather than a single price. If you follow that advice, you might use a script like the following.

“Our cremation prices range from $1,795 to $4,500 because we tailor our services to fit what your family needs. Would you like to speak with one of our funeral directors?”

Feel free to use that script because I want to help you grow your business (notice how I gave you a “because”).

Until next time,


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