Dave Brock in a post last week spoke about how the words we use, convey a point of view to our customers. So if we are using words like “lure”,” hunt” or, “eat what we kill” when talking about selling, how do you think our customers would respond.

His post got me thinking about Selling as an Art. I have been selling for over 25 years. In that time I have learned about behavioral styles, word choices and selling models all to be able to create an environment where a sale is made possible. Most professional sales people have had the same experience.  We learn

– How to get into rapport with the buyer
– How to identify their social style and how they like to learn
– We have a sales model to uncover pain and suggest a solution
– We’ve learned suggestive sales techniques
– We’ve learned how to ask questions that lead to an outcome

In other words, we have learned how to “influence” a buyer to buy. Now if I use influence and the buyer is unaware at a conscious level that I am using these tools and skills; is that manipulative?

I recall a date in college. She was journalism major and I was studying marketing. I remember her claiming how dishonest the profession of sales is. (We did not have another date.) However, her view is common. Many, view sales professionals as manipulative, dishonest and driven only by the sale.

I believe we’ve been given a bum rap. In my years, I have encountered hundreds of sales professionals. And, while we are all driven by money and the thrill of a sale, I have found most have a deeper drive, the need to solve problems, to serve, maybe to make the client or customers lives better because of the transaction or relationship.

So, while we all learn these skills, models and techniques, we use them for good. (As I write this, I just heard a voice, “we use these super powers for good”). The really great sales professionals are truly listening for the buyer’s needs and wants. They create an environment (by getting into rapport and learning how the buyer likes to buy) where the buyer can be presented information in a way that is most meaningful and that allows them to buy.

What is the result of all of this? We have toilets with running water, we have washers and dryers that now use steam for additional sterilization and wrinkle free clothes. The list of innovations that we did not need, that we now can’t do without, is endless; all because a sales person showed us a better way.

So, what do you think


  1. John:

    Glad to see you have a blog. I haven’t started one myself because it would seem to use up too much time. It’s been a long time since I wrote to you last, and even longer since I saw you last, probably some seven years ago at a meeting of the Titans. I hope that organization is still going strong.

    It looks like you may be feeling a little guilty about selling stuff to folks who maybe don’t really want them. Don’t worry about it. That’s why our mamas taught us how to say no. Commerce is defined as arms-length negotiation where neither party has the power to coerce the other. This is called laissez-faire capitalism at its finest.
    Contrariwise, when you deal with the government you are automatically under duress. The government will force you to pay taxes (and do a lot of other things), whether you want to or not.

    So relax and sell your stuff, knowing that you are providing a better deal to your customers than is the competition.

    Later, John.

  2. I think that Salespeople CAN be manipulative. But then again, so can executives, ministers, and 7 year old blonde girls with big blue eyes who ask for ice-cream!

    The difference between manipulation and selling is in the intent. If I intend to manipulate you into buying my product then I am being dishonest. If I match your personality traits so that I can effectively communicate with you and help you understand the VALUE my product will bring to you, then I am assisting you in making a good decision.

    So intent is important.

    The unrecognized fact of any business is that without sales, the accountants don’t get paid. Neither do the attorneys and even the marketing people, who then pay the newspapers for advertisers.

    BTW, the thought of a journalism major judging a sales person as mainuplative is pretty funny!

    Good luck John… Keep up the good work.

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