Most people associate the word “sale” with something bad. Nowadays it has a negative connotation because when we hear the word sale, we tend to think about a sleazy salesman, who wants to push his product to us.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A sale is:
The act of selling; specifically : the transfer of ownership of and title to property from one person to another for a price.
Now here’s the tricky part.
Most people think the following example as a sale. You go and buy a new TV set in exchange for money. The electronics shop just made a sale. They sold their property (the TV) to you, right?
But why to think that this “property” can only be about tangible goods?
What about intellectual property, patents, or ideas?
They are sold and bought all the time for ages.
Here lies the meaning of today’s post then. Let’s see why everything in life is a sale, and how you’ll become a master salesman (or a saleswoman).
Since birth, we learn to sell
Whether this is a physical product or an idea, people are programmed to sell things to others by influencing them.
Sometimes these arguments are logical and rational, but most of the times they are entirely emotional.
But no matter what, these arguments are always to our benefit.
Small or big, our every act or thought on this earth has not an altruistic motive. We always try to convince other people to do something for our benefit even if it’s indirectly.
Even the most “innocent” creatures. Like your baby.
Take a minute to think about it. Why your baby is crying? Every single time, it’s crying to tell you something. To influence you to do something.
It’s trying to sell you the idea that it’s in pain, it’s hungry or any other need it has. That’s not necessarily something wrong. In fact, this is a well-designed mechanism all babies have to make you do things for them.
It’s neither bad or good. It’s simply there because it’s effective.
As we grow up, our brains grow larger. We learn to talk, and our arguments become more and more sophisticated.
We ask for an ice cream, go to the movies, a new toy, etc. Sometimes we promised to be “a good kid” in return for such gifts. Again, we wanted to sell our idea or need to our parents. And if all these “logical” arguments failed, we could always fall back to the evergreen technique of crying.
Start seeing a pattern here?
Grown-ups “cry” as well
But trying to convince someone about something, don’t stop with crying babies. Teenagers and adults try to sell their ideas and wants all the time.
I’ve lost count of how many times I promised to do things if my folks gave me something in return.
“Come on mom, I’ll wash the car for 10 euros.” or “I’ll take my sis to school today if you buy me these new shoes.”
Sale, sale, sale.
Everything is about a sale.
Adults do it too, and to be fair, in a much more aggressive way. They can be very pushing and persuasive.
Emotional arguments (or even manipulation), many times work, and it’s among the strongest human techniques in existence.
Want a bit exaggerating but very practical example?
“If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.”
“Get me into that job, and I’ll do anything you want.”
So many examples.
Indirect sales are the hardest to spot
But don’t limit your thinking to active selling only. Having me trying to convince you with words, in your face, is easy to spot and handle accordingly. Or at least easier than…indirect selling.
Have you ever wondered why men, care about the watch they wear or the car they drive? Or why women spend a ton of money on beauty shops?
Well, whatever excuse you might hear, here’s the truth. Both males and females, when they buy their new dress or watch or car, or when they make their hair, they make an indirect sale.
Uh, what? What do they sell then?
Well, depending on the exact situation, they could sell a lot of things, but considering the examples above, they basically want to sell themselves.
Before you feel like flaming me let me clear something up.
Like I said before, wanting to sell something isn’t necessarily bad. Depending on each individual’s moral standards there can be no sale immoral enough to perform (think of drug dealers).
According to my standards, selling drugs is net-negative, mainly because it’s risky, dangerous in the long-term and because there are easier and more long-term ways to make money.
But drug selling aside, we as humans try to sell ourselves on a daily basis. It’s not a matter of preference. It’s how we’re wired.
Little girls want to look pretty as soon as they start to develop their consciousness. That doesn’t make them bad. Neither it’s pure mimetism. It’s actually both. We all want to feel pretty, desirable and likable. And most often than not, we try to “sell” ourselves to others with such subconscious advertising messages.
Actually, it’s so fundamental to our own existence, that no matter how hard you try to think, you won’t be able to come up with a single case of someone doing something without having a sale in his or her mind.
The tit for tat game theory
Feeling so strong about capitalism myself, I am naturally a big fan of competition and selling in general.
I think that being a good salesman is critical in every life sector. If you can sell your ideas to others, you can persuade them to do almost anything you want.
Being able to sell is powerful, whether you use it to make good or evil. The biggest negative aspect of selling bad ideas or bad products isn’t that it’s wrong or immoral. But I’d strongly advise you not to do it because it’s not an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS).
If you’re here for the long term (as you should be), always try to provide as much value as possible for what you sell. Although the benefit might seem low short-term, in the long run, you’ll be able to benefit a lot more from it.
This is also known as the tit for tat game theory.
The tit for tat game theory is an expression in the mathematical area of game theory, relevant to a problem called the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. It was first introduced as a strategy by Anatol Rapoport in Robert Axelrod‘s two tournaments, held around 1980. Notably, on both occasions it was both the simplest strategy and the most successful in direct competition.
An agent using this strategy will first cooperate, then subsequently replicate an opponent’s previous action. If the opponent had been cooperative, the agent is cooperative; if not, the agent is not. The success of the tit-for-tat strategy, which is largely cooperative despite that its name emphasizes an adversarial nature, took many by surprise. Arrayed against strategies produced by various teams it won in two competitions; after the first competition, new strategies formulated specifically to combat tit-for-tat failed due to their negative interactions with each other. A successful strategy other than tit-for-tat would have had to be formulated with both tit-for-tat and itself in mind.
What this means in simple words is: Don’t try to screw other people. First, try to cooperate with them, and then copy their strategy. It’s the simplest and most efficient strategy there is. And since everything is a sale, tit for tat principle works for everything.
Here’s an excellent documentary explaining the whole strategy and the theory behind it in detail.
Becoming a selling machine
Just by implementing the strategy above, you’d become an unstoppable selling machine. But there are a few more specific principles that you could incorporate as well.
They are all analytically explained in one of the best books ever written on the subject, called Influence by Robert Cialdini.
I’ll briefly mention a few things here, but I’d highly suggest you read this book. It’s phenomenal.
Principle #1: Reciprocation. It’s similar to the one mentioned above actually. The principle or reciprocation suggests that if you help and give value to other people, sooner or later they’ll reciprocate. So if you want to convince someone to do something about you, start by helping him out first.
Principle #2: Commitment and Consistency. After people make a choice, it’s far more likely to follow and support this choice. To influence people to get what you want to be done, just get them make a commitment to it. Like for example, you can ask from your kid to clean up her room on Saturday. At the moment you’ll ask it (a few days earlier that is), the commitment will seem small, but it’ll greatly increase the chances of your kid cleaning the room when Saturday comes. People like to feel consistent with their calls, and you can make that work in your favor.
Principle #3: Social proof. Again an unyielding sales principle. You can see this principle in effect almost everywhere. Think for example the review system for every product. If thousands of other people found this book cool, then it must really be a good one. If you want to influence someone about doing something, using the social proof principle is mandatory. “Hey mom, can I go to this party? Every classmate of mine is gonna be there.”
Principle #4: Liking. “All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” ~Bob Burg. So fucking true. Rapport and trust are huge factors in influencing others. People are emotional creatures, and they’ll do anything for the people who like. Getting others to like you first, can be a bit tricky, especially if rapport building isn’t your strong suit. But just by being polite, friendly and providing much value, you’ll win 80% of the game.
Principle #5: Authority. Establishing authority is very crucial when you want others to do things. Humans are programmed to follow others who have authority status in their eyes. Just think about it. Who’s more likely to convince you to take an operation, your surgeon or your grocery man? Establishing authority before selling something can be powerful, but tricky on the same time because you can’t be an expert on everything. But being well prepared, educated and having sound arguments will help a lot.
Principle #6: Scarcity. “Our newest variety of aromatic coffee blend will be available for a few days only. Limited stock available.” We have all seen this countless times. And it’s a classic example of creating scarcity to make a sale. You should use it as much as possible because it freaking works. People don’t like to feel they are left out. If something is exclusive and scarce, they want it. Make it look rare, it’ll sell more.
That’s it. That’s all you need to become a master salesman.
Selling isn’t good or bad. It’s about human nature. People, from the time they’re born, try to influence other people into doing things for their own benefit.
You don’t have to feel bad about it. You’re not stealing from anyone. But even if you did, that wouldn’t be bad either. Nature is so wise that would auto-correct itself. It was determined long before you and me, that stealing from other people isn’t evolutionarily stable, and that’s why it doesn’t happen that often. Stealing or cheating isn’t bad, it’s only unstable in the long run.
If you’re here for the long term benefit, you should try always to help other people get what they want first. That way, they’ll also help you get what you want in exchange. Whenever you want to start any kind of relationship with someone, being a business, a friendly or a sexual one, always start by giving value first.
This is proven in every system in existence to be the most evolutionarily stable strategy of all.
Besides that, there are a few more basic principles when it comes to becoming a master salesman. Try to use as many of them as possible with your sales process.
- Commitment and consistency
- Social proof
Everything in life is a sale. Don’t feel bad about it. Just learn how to make it work in your favor.
Benefit others, to benefit yourselves.