How to spot manipulation during a sales pitch

How to spot manipulation during a sales pitch

Wednesday July 27, 2016,

3 min Read

All organisations exist in an ecosystem of mutual growth and support. When you set up a business, you will meet people who run other businesses to fulfil your requirements – contractors to set up your workspace, people who supply stationery and even caterers who give you lunch. If you’re a tech-savvy entrepreneur, you’ll be meeting digital marketers and website developers as well. So, as an entrepreneur, you’ll be listening to a lot of sales pitches. A good sales pitch, quite ironically, comes from a genuine person. Unfortunately, you will also meet a lot of manipulators on this journey.


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This is not to say that you must always blame the sales guys. They have targets they absolutely have to achieve. While most of the senior salespeople realise that they cannot sell a product that has no substance, this message may not always trickle down to the executives sent to visit you. Here are some things to watch out for in a sales pitch:

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

If you have someone sitting across the table promising exorbitant growth in just a few months or giving you insurance benefits that you don’t seem to have to pay for, think again. They’re running a business, too, so what’s the catch? Ask for references from previous customers and speak to them about what was promised versus what actually transpired.

Ask for the fine print

While it is nice to be excited about a prospective partnership, always read the contract before you sign it. When, and how much, do you pay? When can you expect the product or service to be delivered? If it is a service that’s being offered, what is the measurable impact you can expect to see at the end of it? When you’re paying money, there’s nothing wrong in asking questions.

Be wary of spot discounts

It is a great marketing tactic to quote a price and then make a show of negotiating and giving a discount. In all probability, it won’t make much financial sense even after the discount, but our minds often play tricks on us and tempt us to buy something when it’s cheaper.

Understand that salespeople are doing their job

At the outset, if you can make them comfortable and send out the message that you know why they’re here, most people will not go down the path of manipulation. Maybe, you can also let them know that selling a product is not the same as selling your soul.

Listen to what they’re not saying

Someone may come up to you and offer to make your site the most SEO-friendly one on the internet. What they’re probably waiting to reveal later is that they’ll charge a fee for every single keyword, making it practically unaffordable for you. This pragmatism is essential if you’re running a startup.

Salespeople sell us everything from credit cards to business solutions. But we often forget that our gullibility makes us easy bait. Don’t forget that your business, too, was established in order to sell something and it won’t be long before you need salespeople of your own.

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