Did you know that there is a Sales Hall of Fame? Could you name any of the most recent inductees? Do you care? They’re definitely not household names.
I found the website for these honorees. Here’s how you get in: “Here at the Sales Hall of Fame, we honor some of the most distinguished professionals who continually inspire people with their cutting edge insights and intellectual influence. The Sales Hall of Fame is the only award that recognizes these innovators in the field of sales while encouraging future generations to take after them.”
Impressive, eh? Little did you know that when you bought that last used car you might well have been dealing with someone who has “cutting edge insights and intellectual influence.” Or…maybe not.
The best sales person I ever knew personally, who is also known around the world, was Zig Ziglar. Given enough prep time, I’m pretty sure he could even sell me an alligator suit. He definitely mastered his craft.
The weird thing about sales is that it can easily cross the edge into manipulation. But wait! There’s more! Did you know that manipulation is actually—get ready—GOOD?
So says Margo Aaron in her article, “When manipulation becomes deception: Where should salespeople draw the line?” found on the website nutshell.com. (Not nuthouse—nutshell.) And apparently, she is SOLD on this idea.
Here’s what Margo believes, “Manipulation entails pulling persuasion levers to encourage someone to act in their own best interest. You can think of it as taking someone from “interested, but maybe later” to “must have this now!!”
As for the techniques, Margo adds, “When you use things like scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity, you hijack the brain’s rational decision making abilities and get people to take action.” Now you understand. These sales intellectuals are hijacking your rational decision making to line their pockets, while providing you with something you may neither really want nor need.
Among the non-intellectual crowd wooing your buying appetites are retired athletes and respected actors. Former football great-turned-pitchman Joe Namath is trying to convince the elderly crowd about how his Social Security plan is so helpful to him. Right, Joe. Let me jump on that deal!
The star of the Bluebloods television series, and another senior, Tom Selleck, is hawking some financial program or service. I find him just a step up from Broadway Joe. A very small step.
Frankly, I’ve never considered manipulation an honorable achievement. No doubt I’ve used it myself. In my earlier life, I held several sales and sales management positions. However, learning how to “close” a sale, or techniques to draw interest in a product or service, generally rises above the line of manipulation.
Steven Covey is known for creating his list of habits for highly successful people. One of them is win-win. I would even add a third “win.” A truly healthy transaction benefits the sales associate, the purchaser, (assuming it’s not the end user) and…the end user. Anyone who loses in the deal will eventually figure it out and not be happy.
The marketplace needs skilled, honest, and hard working sales people. The marketplace is not served well by manipulative tactics however they may be glossed over. The frequently offered “secrets of selling” perhaps should stay as secrets if they abuse the customer relationship.
There is probably no simpler guide on this than what we often refer to as the Golden Rule. In Jesus' words, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:31 (
NLT) Clear as a bell.
Next week, a look at the manipulative ways technology plays with your mind!
Meanwhile, anybody interested in a great deal on Ginsu knives? I’ll throw in a poster of Joe Namath.