My name is Stuart and I am a manipulator. I have been manipulating since birth. I’m not going to suggest that I remember this, though I am fairly certain that when I was three months old and I was hungry or wet, I would cry. That was my crafty way of manipulating my parents into taking care of my needs. By the second or third time that my action resulted in their reaction, I had this revelation that there was something to this behavior. Immediately I was hooked.
This was not a unique scenario by any means. In fact, it is safe to assume you had a very similar experience. I use this example to illustrate the point that everyone is a manipulator, though I dare to take this idea one step further—I believe that everyone is manipulating every minute of every day. Certainly some are more skilled at manipulation while others are more obvious or transparent (more on this in a bit). Think about it: whenever you are communicating with someone, you have a desired outcome. It may be to get a specific action, or reaction, or confirmation, or to simply plant a seed for later use. You are manipulating when you are trying to impress a man/woman at a bar, a boss, or a colleague who you want to make think you are cooler than you actually are. In fact, we are constantly manipulating ourselves. Convincing ourselves we can order that lunch and just have a light dinner to make up for it, or that it won’t really make a difference to have just one more drink, etc., etc., etc.. All very common occurrences in all of our day to day lives.
In my day-to-day life, I spend most of my time manipulating my wife and our clients. I love my wife dearly and only want the best for her. Therefore, I would like to further my point that there is certainly a difference between good manipulation and bad manipulation, though the difference is much more subtle than lying vs. honesty. I would sum it up as ‘good’ meaning manipulating someone toward something that you know, or at least firmly believe, is a good decision or solution for them, while ‘bad’ would be manipulating someone toward something that you don’t care if it is good or bad for them, instead only caring that it serves your purpose. The problem is that the receiving party generally cannot easily identify the difference, particularly if the subject is something that they are not entirely familiar with.
When applying this philosophy with respect to communicating with prospects or clients, a great salesperson (master manipulator) will listen to their audience and manipulate them toward a solution that is the right solution for them—whether this is something that the salesperson offers or not. Either way, this phase of manipulation will result in the correct result for all parties. Again, it may not result in a sale for the salesperson but it can very likely still reward them in some fashion. This is where I could preach my belief in “sales karma”, but I will spare you until a future blog post. On the flip side, a weak salesperson (bad manipulator) will not employ the art of listening to his/her audience and proceed to manipulate the prospect toward what will best fit his own needs. First of all, this type of forced steering triggers many flags along the way that a savvy buyer will most likely pick up on. If this sale does work, then the relationship is likely initiating under false pretenses and expectations, which is never a good situation for anyone involved.
My belief is that expert sales technique is a science that requires a wealth of good manipulation. I classify this science of sales into two categories - Natural Science vs. Artificial Science. ‘Natural’ is when one progresses through the sales cycle in a logical and responsive manner while considering the needs of the prospect and the salesperson’s true offerings. ‘Artificial’ is when one progresses through the sales cycle needing to fabricate responses in order to maneuver the prospect toward a preconceived solution that would only fulfill that salesperson’s needs. It's very simple, one allows the salesperson to behave “naturally” while the other forces the salesperson to behave “artificially”. The latter is most often exhibited by car salespeople (sorry if you’re one of them!), particularly during that stage after you’ve purchased the car and they then barrage you with aftermarket offers that really impact the commission they can earn. In the service industry which Vector works in, it is very, very difficult to succeed by practicing “Artificial Science”, despite how strong one’s ability to manipulate may be. That is why I preach to our entire team, not just Biz Dev folks, to embrace the fact that they are manipulating our clients, but to just do it “naturally” and organically, with everyone’s best interest in mind.
So as a career salesperson, I implore you not to frown upon me. I do serve a purpose in this world and truly feel that I am one of the “good manipulators”.