Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Manipulative Selling

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on September 2, 2009

Really good sales people can also be really good manipulators.  We have a way of painting word pictures and asking leading questions to position our product or service as something that the prospect would almost feel stupid to turn down.


I’ve learned to never trap a prospect although it’s very easy to do and sometimes even works.  They feel violated when they are trapped.

Here’s an example of trapping:

  • First you ask: “Mr. Smith you can see how my product can save you a lot of money can’t you?” Of course the answer is yes if you’ve made a decent presentation.
  • Then you follow up with: “Mr. Smith I’m sure as an educated man you appreciate the value of saving money anywhere you can don’t you?” Of course he’s going to say yes…if he doesn’t it means he’s not an educated man based on how you positioned your question.
  • Then you trap him with a question like this: “So Mr. Smith you’ve basically admitted in your own words that to not purchase my product would be a foolish decision, haven’t you?” WOAH – Awkward! Wrong! Please don’t do this! Ever.

This may seem extreme and silly to a mature salesperson. However, even subtle and crafty trapping carefully woven in to a presentation gives sales people a bad reputation and cannibalizes their credibility.


  • If a prospect ever feels that saying “No” is an undignified answer then you have abused your roll as a salesperson.
  • Selling is not trapping people so they feel guilty if they don’t buy, but it is serving people with information that educates them on the value of your product or service.
  • As a general rule of thumb avoid asking leading questions.

2 Responses

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  1. Evan said, on September 3, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Are you saying it would be better to present in such a clear way that the customer is asking themselves the loading questions? Like the new look btw.

    • elephanthunters said, on September 3, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      That’s definitely a better approach, Evan. Allowing them to have ownership of the whole idea and reassuring them that they are in control of the pace will always build trust.

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