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Old 2012-09-14, 23:42   Link #1
SaintessHeart
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Softskills - The Manipulation of People



Alongside with the cliche of professionalism, it seems that in today's world of sales, we are often being coddled into buying things through our emotions. What is more, companies invest tens of thousands of dollars to teach their employees how to create desire in their customers, selling based on wants instead of needs.

Despite the advent of the internet where product details are widely available, people still buy stuff through their emotions. The less emotionally inclined customers, and even staff, will be blacklisted due to their incapability to sell, or even buy the "professionalism" projected.

This thread is created to discuss the issue of buying, thus spending through emotion, and how to regulate that. Also, this thread serves as a discussion to counter "softskilling" - the process where fake empathy is used to seduce customers to keep paying for an erstwise overrated and under-performing service.

That being said, the resistance met in sales processes is a rock-paper-scissors issue with plenty of politically correct statements, so no counter is actually foolproof. It is how one understands the situation, and how one applies the usual counter to it.

Some phrases of speech used :

"I understand, however........" = "I don't understand, and I don't really care, just listen to me."

"I empathise with your situation, and will do my best to resolve it" = "I don't really bother about how you feel, but I'll still try to solve the problem."

Patterns of script :

Greet- > Empathise -> Concern for related services -> Assist -> Concern for related services -> Close

These are the more common ones I have heard until I am sick of it. It is annoying to hear someone drone on with such human aspects until the main point (product) is hidden underneath a pile of cliches.
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Old 2012-09-14, 23:58   Link #2
Urzu 7
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This happens way too much in America. I am under the impression you aren't from America. I coulda sworn I once read something about you living in Asia. Do you live outside of America and still put up with loads of this crap?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
What is more, companies invest tens of thousands of dollars to teach their employees how to create desire in their customers, selling based on wants instead of needs.
The electronics and media giant Best Buy is gradually going under. This is due to multiple reasons, one of which being what I quoted. Whichever people who run the company, they think this is key to their success, and it is actually something that is reducing their success, and they just don't get it, even after all this time. Lots of customers that go to Best Buy stores are just so fed up with and sick of the way the store employees try to cram sales and services down their throats (complete with the plastic interpersonal relationships they establish). Like you point out, Best Buy will only really keep people that commit to this, and if they want to keep their jobs there, they have no choice but to be a persistent, bothersome salesman.
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:37   Link #3
aohige
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I dunno, I have a gut feeling that Best Buy being just too damn expensive and package pricing may have a lot to do with it.
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:41   Link #4
Urzu 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aohige View Post
I dunno, I have a gut feeling that Best Buy being just too damn expensive and package pricing may have a lot to do with it.
What I mentioned is a factor. But with Best Buy, it is a number of factors.
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:43   Link #5
Sumeragi
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My usual tactic when selling: 朝三暮四 (Three In The Morning and Four in The Evening).

Basically, you maneuver your opposite side to the position you want them to be by first proposing a relatively worse deal, and then moving up to the deal that you want them to take.

You use the opposite method when buying: You initially give out the deal you want, and then propose a worse deal, thus maneuvring the seller into the position more favorable to you.
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:43   Link #6
willx
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@Uruz 7 - Hm.. not to dump cold water on your thoughts re: Best Buy, but there's actually a whole lot more dislocation in the markets due to the commoditization of a vast array of electronics and falling prices than anything else related to "selling culture."

People see 40"+ LCD flatscreens now as something you can just order online .. same with computers and most other things that people would have been much more cautious in purchasing previously. Funny enough is that Amazon is eating the lunch of Best Buy (and Circuit City, Radioshack, etc.) but is STILL not making much profit themselves.

So increasing competition and decreasing margins is generally unpleasant for any business with significant fixed costs and working capital requirements (large number of large stores, huge amounts of inventory, etc)

What I will say with regards to "softskills" is that it's more than just "manipulation of people" -- soft skills as it was defined when I was in business school and in my work circles are more like "transferable non-job-specific skills" that make you successful in any occupation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_skills

EDIT: Man, I am WAY too slow on the trigger! This is what a misplaced tetris block must feel like..
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:49   Link #7
Urzu 7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
@Uruz 7 - Hm.. not to dump cold water on your thoughts re: Best Buy, but there's actually a whole lot more dislocation in the markets due to the commoditization of a vast array of electronics and falling prices than anything else related to "selling culture."

People see 40"+ LCD flatscreens now as something you can just order online .. same with computers and most other things that people would have been much more cautious in purchasing previously. Funny enough is that Amazon is eating the lunch of Best Buy (and Circuit City, Radioshack, etc.) but is STILL not making much profit themselves.

So increasing competition and decreasing margins is generally unpleasant for any business with significant fixed costs and working capital requirements (large number of large stores, huge amounts of inventory, etc)

What I will say with regards to "softskills" is that it's more than just "manipulation of people" -- soft skills as it was defined when I was in business school and in my work circles are more like "transferable non-job-specific skills" that make you successful in any occupation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_skills

EDIT: Man, I am WAY too slow on the trigger! This is what a misplaced tetris block must feel like..
I forgot that one; online retailers taking away sales from them. Like I said, what I mentioned is just a single factor. I read it somewhere. Best Buy is doing poorly due to several or many factors. All of them combined has the company in steep decline. I hear they have been shutting down many of them around the nation. It is possible in only a handful of years from now they could go bust, is what I heard.
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:53   Link #8
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
I forgot that one; online retailers taking away sales from them. Like I said, what I mentioned is just a single factor. I read it somewhere. Best Buy is doing poorly due to several or many factors. All of them combined has the company in steep decline. I hear they have been shutting down many of them around the nation. It is possible in only a handful of years from now they could go bust, is what I heard.
I'm typing this FAST so people don't pop up in front of me! :P

Only reason I immediately thought of this was because I recently was at an event where we were given a speech/lecture by Don Tapscott, an innovation and technology expert (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Tapscott) and his topic was dislocation in various markets and the emergence of "networked societies" and "disruption in traditional businesses"
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:55   Link #9
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
This happens way too much in America. I am under the impression you aren't from America. I coulda sworn I once read something about you living in Asia. Do you live outside of America and still put up with loads of this crap?



The electronics and media giant Best Buy is gradually going under. This is due to multiple reasons, one of which being what I quoted. Whichever people who run the company, they think this is key to their success, and it is actually something that is reducing their success, and they just don't get it, even after all this time. Lots of customers that go to Best Buy stores are just so fed up with and sick of the way the store employees try to cram sales and services down their throats (complete with the plastic interpersonal relationships they establish). Like you point out, Best Buy will only really keep people that commit to this, and if they want to keep their jobs there, they have no choice but to be a persistent, bothersome salesman.
I live in Singapore and have done sales and CSC jobs, and I must say, I don't like it because the approach doesn't feel right, feels like I am cheating them with all those pink unicorns. And unicorns don't exist.

I can get cheaper stuff from online and through distributors directly, I go to shops to see which are the newer technologies available. When it comss to direct sales, I usually play negotiation and component games (reducing cost by going into each part in detail and cutting the fluff), but unlike what Sume-nee does in million-dollar deals, these is mostly for personal deals, or on behalf of a lessliterate neighbour or acquaintance.
__________________

When three puppygirls named after pastries are on top of each other, it is called Eclair a'la menthe et Biscotti aux fraises avec beaucoup de Ricotta sur le dessus.
Most of all, you have to be disciplined and you have to save, even if you hate our current financial system. Because if you don't save, then you're guaranteed to end up with nothing.
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Old 2012-09-15, 00:59   Link #10
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
I live in Singapore and have done sales and CSC jobs, and I must say, I don't like it because the approach doesn't feel right.

I can get cheaper stuff from online and through distributors directly, I go to shops to see which are the newer technologies available. When it comss to direct sales, I usually play negotiation and component games (reducing cost by going into each part in detail and cutting the fluff), but unlike what Sume-nee does in million-dollar deals, these is mostly for personal deals, or on behalf of a lessliterate neighbour or acquaintance.
Oh my. One of my junior colleagues is from Singapore! He did tell me it's an extremely commercially focused and consumerist society..

Last edited by Daniel E.; 2012-09-15 at 05:04.
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:06   Link #11
Endless Soul
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Slightly unrelated, but the last time I was in a Best Buy, I was literally approached by 11 different employees (I counted) in 10 minutes to see if I was "finding everything OK" and getting more annoyed each time I was asked. I left without buying anything.

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Old 2012-09-15, 01:13   Link #12
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
Oh my. One of my junior colleagues is from Singapore! He did tell me it's an extremely commercially focused and consumerist society.
Where are you from?
__________________

When three puppygirls named after pastries are on top of each other, it is called Eclair a'la menthe et Biscotti aux fraises avec beaucoup de Ricotta sur le dessus.
Most of all, you have to be disciplined and you have to save, even if you hate our current financial system. Because if you don't save, then you're guaranteed to end up with nothing.

Last edited by Daniel E.; 2012-09-15 at 05:05.
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:13   Link #13
aohige
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
And unicorns don't exist.
What nonsense are you babbling. Stop this BS.
Next thing you're gonna tell me Big Foots are fake.

Anyways... for the topic of the thread, I can sympathize with the frustration, the dishonesty, and uncomfortable feel you get like you're trying to rip off your client.

But in all honesty, "wants instead of needs" has always been focal point of selling anything in a developed nation with adequet standard of living. And there's a big gap between "sleazy car salesman" and "smooth talking sales clark".

I've been in the sales industry as a salesman myself for 10 years.
Not currently, thank god, moved on to logistical industry.
I've shared your feelings for a long time, and while emotionally uncomfortable if you have any soul, I also see is a necessity.
You simply have to find a compromise between:

A - sincerity, honesty, giving your clientele what they need

and

B - smooth talking your way to MAKE them want a juicier alternative, stepping up the sales

and

C - Lying through your teeth and selling the big margin products, regardless of the customer's needs and wants

Using fake empathy to ease your way into their mind is a skill to achieve the close, and while it may not be honest, it's not entirely wrong.
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:13   Link #14
Urzu 7
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I think when you deal with clients, you should bolster up your likability by impressing them. Say something like "You know, I don't mean to brag, but I'm kind of a big deal at the AnimeSuki forums".
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Last edited by Daniel E.; 2012-09-15 at 05:02.
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:15   Link #15
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post

I think when you deal with clients, you should bolster up your likability by impressing them. Say something like "You know, I don't mean to brag, but I'm kind of a big deal at the AnimeSuki forums".
Wow. When I become important can I use this one?

Last edited by Daniel E.; 2012-09-15 at 05:07.
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:15   Link #16
Sumeragi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
I think when you deal with clients, you should bolster up your likability by impressing them.
You mean a 23-year old woman wouldn't be impressive to 40+ old businessmen coming from Japan, Korea, and China? There are the added benefits of being able to drink most people under the table, singing at karaokes, and discussing politics.
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:22   Link #17
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
Where are you from?
I'm from Canada! We have snow, baby seals, polar bears and the safest banks in the world. Importance in the order I described.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
You mean a 23-year old woman wouldn't be impressive to 40+ old businessmen coming from Japan, Korea, and China? There are the added benefits of being able to drink most people under the table, singing at karaokes, and discussing politics.
Hm, I find that pretty damn impressive?
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Old 2012-09-15, 01:22   Link #18
Urzu 7
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Originally Posted by Sumeragi View Post
You mean a 23-year old woman wouldn't be impressive to 40+ old businessmen coming from Japan, Korea, and China? There are the added benefits of being able to drink most people under the table, singing at karaokes, and discussing politics.
No, all that is great, but letting people know you are a big deal at the AnimeSuki forums just takes you to a whole 'nother level.
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Old 2012-09-15, 02:57   Link #19
Asuras
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urzu 7 View Post
The electronics and media giant Best Buy is gradually going under. This is due to multiple reasons, one of which being what I quoted. Whichever people who run the company, they think this is key to their success, and it is actually something that is reducing their success, and they just don't get it, even after all this time. Lots of customers that go to Best Buy stores are just so fed up with and sick of the way the store employees try to cram sales and services down their throats (complete with the plastic interpersonal relationships they establish). Like you point out, Best Buy will only really keep people that commit to this, and if they want to keep their jobs there, they have no choice but to be a persistent, bothersome salesman.
Dunno about that. I've found BestBuy employees to be some of the most helpful and warm employees out there. Just to note, this is my experience (so maybe you all just don't know how to make nice with BestBuy ) I know for a fact that customers praise -and even mention- employees who are especially helpful.

To be honest, the only locations I've ever encountered a 'persistent salesman' is on the streets of India.
In fact, I've met plenty of people in BestBuy who recommended we go to another store for a better deal or to find something they themselves didn't have.
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Old 2012-09-15, 07:19   Link #20
DonQuigleone
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In terms of "soft skills", I'd recommend the (in)famous book "How to win friends and influence people". It's got solid advice, though fundamentally it just boils down to "be genuinely interested in the people you meet".

As for selling, I don't know, I've always been good at "selling" my ideas to people(but then I only do it in Engineering), my approach is to just tell it them straight. The benefits of this is X, Y, Z. Your other option is A, whose benefits are B, C and D. Also, I would try to figure out what they're looking for in the product they're buying, and help them choose the one to fit their needs.

I think the key is to not bother trying to persuade people that they want something, it's foolish. Instead try to help them get what they want(and not what you want them to want) from what you happen to have.

So if you were selling them food, and they were uncertain, maybe unfamiliar with your menu, you might ask "what sort of thing are you looking for", and then tailor the dish you serve them to their needs.

Approach them with honesty and sincerity. People can usually tell if you're bullshitting them. And if they feel you helped them out, they'll likely come back again. And again, and again. To sell anything, you need to focus on your customer, and not yourself.

Now would I go so far as to advise them to shop somewhere else? Probably not, but I'd try to help them choose the best product possible from what we have in stock.

That said, all this implies that you're not being employed to sell snake oil. I saw a best buy salesman con a guy into buying an overpriced HDMI cable. I felt disgusted, knowing that the $40 cable he bought could be bought for $2 online. I wish I had intervened...

That said, I don't have any experience selling directly to customers, so perhaps I'm overly idealistic. But I have practised the art of persuasion quite a bit.
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