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  1. “I know when my colleague booked this appointment they said we would have a detailed discussion today, but I have gone and double booked myself and have another meeting straight after you, so I will have to be brief.”

    Having such an overloaded work diary will make the customer think that you are very busy, that they are not the only customer and that they may miss out on something if they don’t convince you to stay longer. It also takes the control away from them and brings it to you. It is they who have to warm you into blowing off your other appointment favouring them. Of course, handled badly, and this could come off to the customer as if they are not important to you which could cause offense, so you need care in the delivery.


    Back to the TV shop analogy you could walk up to the prospect and say “I can see you are interested in this TV, and I can’t blame you. But I have one left in stock, and quite frankly I just promised another chap that if he comes back in the next 15 minutes with the cash, I will hold it for him.”                                                                                                                  

    Again, you are putting a timeframe on the sale and the discussion you are adding the fear that they may lose out on something to somebody else, so you are adding in the psychological trap of scarcity, and you are not trying to sell to them.

    The purpose of this technique is to open the conversation without it being obvious you are opening to sell. It also puts the buyer in the driving seat of now wanting something they think they cannot have, and they will push you to sell it to them. You can then maneuver the conversation the way you want by either agreeing to sell that product or by showing them an “even better deal” that the other guy never even knew about for just a fraction more.

    The point is not whether it is true or not because you may well have promised the last product to a previous customer, and you may very well have double booked on appointments. The point is that you are putting a time constraint on the conversation, and this shows a lack of desperation on your part but also immediately opens the conversation up and avoids any blockades or conversation blockers. 

    The pop psychology

    The beautiful aspect of this technique is that it puts you in control and plays a nice psychological trick on the prospect. You remove the upper hand, bring down the barrier to the conversation and make the prospect think that they might miss out on something to someone else. The law of scarcity is one that sits in our subconscious. We always want what we can’t have. None of us likes to be told we can’t have something whether we want it or not as we like to feel we can make the decision for ourselves; we are in control, and nothing puts the desperation on more to have it if we think we can’t but somebody else can.

    This technique reverts us back to our childhood where far too often we were told we couldn’t have a particular toy and how unfair we thought it was that we couldn’t have it but our best friend could. As adults, we like to feel we are in control of what we can and can’t have, even if in this instance, it’s the salesperson in control we like to feel it is us. 

    This technique is also nice because it plays into the psychological trap of reciprocity which dates back to tribal times when doing things in exchange for food or other resources meant life or death. The salesperson is doing you a favour telling you about the secret deal, that the other guy does know about we feel we owe it to him to buy the bigger more expensive TV.

    The actual details of the time constraint and reciprocation mentioned above are not important, but the principle is.  The point is that when approaching or dealing with new customers and prospects if you understand some very simple principles of psychology then you can break down barriers.

    You can apply these principles to bringing about social change. When we are networking, trying to engage others in conversation about our cause and trying to get them on the side. You may scream “isn’t it a bit manipulative?” and the answer is “yes” but get over it. We all manipulate each other every day and do you want to get that cash for your baby seal project or not.

    From a consumers point of view

    As customers, if we are aware that these types of techniques used, and this is by no means an original idea, then we can at least be on our guard against it.  While we might not want to be rude, we can at least stop and ask ourselves “are the persuasion tools of time constraint, scarcity, and reciprocity being used against me here?” We can then decide whether or not we wish to go along with it.

    It's also worth considering, as a consumer, that if we realise that these techniques used on us we may be able to reverse them on the salesperson and use them to our advantage to get discounts and so forth.

    With all the sales and marketing techniques in this book, it is worth considering how you could reverse the psychological principles to get what you want from the exchange. 


    Written by Behavioural Marketing Specialist: Sam O'Prey from Telford, Shropshire, West Midlands UK specialist in helping charities, not for profits, social enterprises and activists to get their message noticed



    George Becker

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  2. Do not be afraid to be different to engage your prospects attention. If you say something that awakens them from the trance like state they are in or that grabs their attention, then you can get your opening.

    I am not for a second suggestion being offensive to get their attention. You can only really do this if you are a comedian or performer of some type. Rather say something that is just a little bit different so that your opener stands out ahead of all the other sales people they have spoken to that day.

    The following are just examples:

    If you were selling TV’s in a shop for example instead of saying “is there anything I can help you with today?”

    You could say “Sorry we no longer sell these in black and white” in a modern day setting there would be no need to state this, but the fact you do may just gain their attention and even a smile. It is a terrible joke, and terrible jokes get attention, even if it is a grimace.

    Or you could say “Every TV comes with a free signed picture of me” it’s cheeky, humorous but most of all it’s not the same old drivel they have heard everywhere else. 


    The example is simply this: if you were walking up to somebody you liked the look of in a bar would you say “Do you come here often?” which is so obviously a pickup line or would you say “Were you that girl outside that was just in a fight.” If you say something like this is almost automatically guarantees you an answer.  Even if you are told to go forth and multiply you have at least started the dialogue you are more likely to get an answer like:

    Target: “No that wasn’t me.”

    You: “Oh sorry for a second there I thought it was you, it must be the light or something, did you see that fight it was something else?” and the conversation has started.

    The pop psychology

    You have engaged your prospects interest and started a conversation because your opener is different and their defensesstart to become removed as what they expected you to say does not come out of your mouth.  It requires them to think and try to ascertain what the correct response would be; they are briefly confused enough not to put up an instant block, and once you are in the conversation, you can build rapport and start talking business.

    People spend a lot of time listening and engaging with their internal dialogue which is their view of the world and their conscious and subconscious trying to make sense of it. Through years of internal programming in varyingsituations, they have learned to put up a defense mechanism, walls that say “when a salesperson says this, I say that, and they go away.” They may not even be aware of this as quite often this goes on subconsciously. If though you can confuse and interrupt that internal dialogue you can break down those defenses with more ease. Be aware of the internal dialogue. With careful observation you can see when it is in action, this is your time to engage.

    In practice

    The most important element of this technique is to be natural. Ifin practice you sound forced or rehearsed, then you will do more to alienate the subject than if you are natural. So, don’t force it. Be natural if you are naturally bad at making jokes use this to your advantage.

    As the customer

    As you can see in sales, we are taught to control and engage in every part of the sales negotiation process including even how to open up a conversation in the first place. Hopefully, no one will be lame enough to use any of the examples above as they are just examples and are meant to be lame to teach the principle. But as the customer, if you realise that someone is trying to “open” you then you can defend against it. If you realise that someone has done something novel to open up the conversation and now somehow you appear trapped in conversation you can realise what has happened and take evasive action.

    Personally,as a sales and compliance professional, whenever someone tries to “open” with me, I cut them dead. Unless it’s product or service I have already decided to buy and now I just want to play with them to see how much fun I can have and how much discount I can get, then I engage, but it is on my terms. Sometimes the people I am with can think this is rude behaviour on my part as I often say “no I am not interested” before the person has finished their sentence, but I know that engaging with a sales person that I do not wish to buy from is the start of the persuasion technique. The longer I listen, the sweeter the con.

    As we will learn later and we dive deeper into the subject of the direct marketing and compliance professional we will see the power of words and the power they have over us and our thinking.

    If as a consumer or average Joe on the street not wanting to be engaged with in this way take one thing away from this section it should be: the longer you listen, the easier it is to influence you.


    Writtern by Behavioural Marketing Specialist: Sam O'Prey from Telford, Shropshire, West Midlands UK specialist in helping charities, not for profits, social enterprises and activists to get their message noticed