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Defeat the voice of reason in the buyer’s head

Want to put one over on prospects? Pull a fast one on the unwitting, unwilling and unworldly? Screw, swindle, sham, and scam the saps? Course you do – go for the quick win and to hell with the consequences! Here are 10 ten manipulative ploys to defeat the voice of reason in the buyer’s head:

Illusion of choice

Assumptive close with the illusion of choice – avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions and give a number of options, all beneficial to you, and ask which the prospects would prefer i.e., assume that they are going to buy and it is only a matter of which option.

Feign humility and selflessness

Feign humility and selflessness – disguise your self-serving agenda and take on the role of the consultant, a mere middleman, whose focus is solely on ensuring the client’s needs are met and they are a good fit for the service: this builds trust, reduces resistance and, with the prospect’s guard down, they are more vulnerable and likely to buy from a trustworthy advisor.  

Join ‘team client’

Join ‘team client’ – pretend to be on the prospect’s side against your own company: place their interests first by struggling to convince your boss to secure a favourable deal, discount etc., that benefits the client – reap future rewards by up- and cross-selling from a position of trust.

Exploit the reciprocity instinct

Exploit the reciprocity instinct – make a seemingly altruistic gesture (however symbolic in value or entirely useless) and leverage the receiver’s urge to return the kind favour. Invest equally in insincere compliments (non-material in nature) to play on this instinct and increases the prospect’s warm and fuzzy feelings towards you – liking and trust are the lifeblood of sales.

Freedom of choice

Gain compliance by underscoring their freedom of choice – remind the prospect that it is their call, reducing any resistance to manipulation by implying they are not persuaded and can make the ‘final call’ themselves.

Low-ball pricing

Bait-and-switch with a low-ball price – play on the idea of commitment – once we commit to an idea, we don’t like to be perceived (by ourselves too!) as contradicting ourselves. First offer a highly attractive low, entry level price (the hook), get the prospect to agree in principle to the appeal/benefits of the deal, then raise the price (reasonably) – it is more likely to be accepted as the benefit of deal has been already establish and accepted. Similarly, make a small request to get your foot in the door and then widen the crack by making slightly larger requests – useful tactic for upselling.

Fear of losing out / false scarcity

Fear of losing out / false scarcity: we naturally equate scarcity with value – particularly if ownership is limited or exclusive and we need to make a decision in a limited period of time. Setting artificial, arbitrary deadlines – purchase/sale countdowns – or publishing low-stock notices encourage purchases before a product runs out or a discount expires e.g., ‘only 2 left in stock/ 5 people are looking at this now’ / ‘High demand for this hotel – only 4 rooms left’)

Attack the competition (covertly)

Pre-emptively attack the competition: while overtly bad-mouthing competitors smacks of insecurity, researching your competitors and using this information to your advantage to diminish them (without mentioning specific companies), helps enhance your company’s stature e.g., ‘Some companies only offer X / use last generation technology etc., while my company….”

Exploit Fears

Probe for issues and needs & exploit fears: leading the conversation through structured questioning (i.e., establish the circumstances and background and search for leverage points, hone in on the prospect’s issues/concerns, focus on the potential impact and consequences, then question about the need for -and the perceived value of – a solution. The knock-on effect is that the prospect convinces you/himself of the issue, its impact, and how much a solution would be worth – rather than you ramming features, benefits down his throat:  his own words are much more persuasive to him than yours.

Play on emotions

Play on emotional connections – evoking raw human emotions, whether promising elevated status, customer flattery, pride – implying owners are distinctive, attractive, special and sophisticated if they ‘appreciate’ the brand – tugs on emotions to drives sales (often coupled with scarcity and exclusivity) – impulse buys that customers later rationalise.

So, while tongue-in-cheek, this list highlights some common ways to manipulate buyers – forewarned is forearmed – to buy on impulse, leading all too often to buyer’s remorse and a short-term relationship with the company.  In the next post, we will focus on how to sell ethically without deceit so that buyers’ and sellers’ interest are aligned in a mutually beneficial relationship.


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