Robert Cialdini, a psychology professor, wrote a book, “Influence: Science and Practice” that I am reading. It provides the framework for many of the commonly used methods of selling. It covers the ways the sales tactics can be used to manipulate the sales situation, and each chapter ends with a description of how to counter that tactic. Many of these sales techniques are visible in sales such as using social proof, authority and scarcity.
The chapter I just finished on liking and the affinity principle explains that we like people like ourselves. The sales person may compliment, mirror the body language of the prospect, and use other tactics to gain a sale. One of my competitors confided in me about how he uses the affinity principle. When he is an exhibitor at an attorney conference, he will use any pretext or lie to forge a bond with a prospect. If the attorney was from Pennsylvania, he claimed to have gone to college in Pennsylvania. If the attorney’s name was Mary, he claimed his mother’s name was Mary. He’d use this ruse to start a conversation.
Imagine the scene. Mary strikes up a conversation with him, and feels warmly towards him because his mother is named Mary. She comes past his booth later and overhears him telling a different attorney, “My mother’s name is Ellen, too!” This tactic involves way too much deception for my taste. It might work short term but it is based on lies.
Lying reminds me of a girl I met in nursing school. She came from a strict religious home where she was tightly controlled. When she got to nursing school, she went wild – dated, smoked, drank – all forbidden activities at home. She also decided that she would learn to tell lies. Not being terribly good at it (she was a beginner, after all), she wrote her lies on her blotter in our dorm. She wanted to keep track of them. One day the cleaning lady decided the blotter was too marked up and supplied my friend with a fresh clean one. Disaster.
If you tell the truth, you never have to worry about your blotter disappearing. If you genuinely like someone, you will naturally establish a relationship with another person. If you have services of value to sell to an attorney, you do not have to be deceptive to get the business.