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Does it matter how you sell something to someone?  If you believe in your product how far should you go? Should you use every technique in your pocket if you truly believe what you are selling is in the persons best interest? 
I finally bought a new iPhone but I walked out of the Apple store angry and disillusioned 3 times before I went online and bought one.  What happened?

The first time I went in, I remember asking for help and when the young girl came over to serve me I told her, “I want to buy an iPhone please”.  I was very clear about what I wanted.  After a couple of minutes talking to her I remember feeling more and more uncomfortable and like I didn’t want to buy one.  I can’t remember exactly what she was saying but the feeling as she told me about Apple Care was, “I don’t want to go near this.”  I remember her showing me the price of a replacement screen (hundreds of ££s) and trying to scare me into getting Apple Care.

I left feeling annoyed, and without a new phone.

The second visit went much the same way with me leaving without buying an iPhone, and it wasn’t until the third visit that I was able to really understand what was going on!  Sometimes it takes me a few times to understand things but I kept going back and sitting in the awkward moment of trying to buy one and being put off!

The third time I went to the Apple Store, I made notes  on my phone of exactly the language the store assistant used on me trying to get me to buy Apple Care with my iPhone.   The conversation went something along the lines of this:

Assistant: “Do you know how much it costs to have a screen repaired?”

Alan: “I was told last time I came in.  I have had an iPhone 6s for about 4 years and never had any problems”.

Assistant: “I have to tell you this because when we have people at the Genius Bar crying that it costs so much to repair their screens they get angry with us, asking, “Why didn’t you tell us?”

When your screen breaks, what are you going to do?”

I could feel myself get angry inside when she used the word “when“.  I can’t believe they use the word when as if it happens to every single person that buys an Apple phone. Are the screens defective? Did they need to warn everyone that the screens will break?  Does EVERYONE suffer with a broken screen?

They are using manipulative messages and emotional blackmail (people crying) to get you to buy the Apple Care service, and then on the other hand they tell you that they get no commission for doing it. They are trained to use certain language to manipulate you into buying.

I have been into the Apple Store three times to try and buy an iPhone and every time they have put me off by talking to me about what happens when my screen breaks. I told them that I have an iPhone 6s that I’ve had for four years and it has been fine the whole time without any damage. They still feel the need to tell me when my screen breaks I will be in for massive repair bills.

After the third time of this happening I thought I would call it out right there and then in the shop!  It didn’t go down that well.

I told the shop assistant that I thought I was being manipulated and I didn’t like their approach, and it was actually putting me off buying the phone. The lady got defensive; said thank you and walked off ending the interaction.

I don’t think this is the first time this had happened to her as she ended it quickly and just walked off!

I ended up buying the iPhone online and having it delivered as I could not buy an iPhone from the Apple Store.  I hate being manipulated.  Present me with the facts and I will make an informed decision.  Try to manipulate me and I have a pretty strong reaction!

Why am I telling you about my experience buying an iPhone?

Because sales is one of the most important skills you can learn in life.  I don’t care what job, position or industry you are in, sales techniques are incredibly useful as you progress in your career and get promoted.  The ability to pitch and sell an idea, the ability to persuade the people around you of a certain approach, the ability to sell yourself in an interview.

We are always selling as humans.

But if I ask you, What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say salesman?

What comes to mind?

What’s the first word that comes to mind when I say salesman?

I have asked this question in workshops all around the world to thousands of people and the answer is always the same:

Pushy, slimy, sleazy, used car salesman, manipulative, and more!

If we have such a bad impression of what sales actually is then how are we going to balance in our head that we need to learn the skills, develop them, and use them to advance our career?

I am always amazed when I have a room full of 100 new entrepreneurs at the Rebel Business School all excited about starting their businesses and yet they think sales is EVIL!  How are they ever going to grow a successful business with that opinion of sales!?!?!?

That’s why I started this post with some questions about how far you should go with sales techniques and how ethical certain approaches are.  I think Apple’s approach to selling Apple Care is unethical with their use of emotive language around crying customers and using “when” instead of “if” your screen breaks.  I don’t like it all.

So I want to suggest that you learn about sales for 2 main reasons:

Firstly, I only know what Apple are trying to do to me because of the sales training that I have had. I am only able to notice it and defend against it because I have been on lots of training courses and read all the books about sales.   I believe you should learn about sales so that you can protect yourself against the consumerist culture that is so prevalent in our culture.

If you can notice and see what people are doing to try to get you to buy then you can remove those techniques and make your buying decision on more logical facts rather than being manipulated.  I believe it is your job to educate yourself to be able to make the best informed decisions you can.

Make better decisions to get a better outcome.

Secondly, and I don’t care whether you are an entrepreneur, have a job or are a stay at home parent, you should learn sales for yourself.

  • When you go to an interview for a job you are selling
  • When you are finding a business partner to work with you are selling
  • When you are talking to your kids about what to have for dinner you are selling.

In all areas of life, sales is used on a daily basis, and your ability to ethically use the skills will determine your success in so many different areas of life. 

Learn persuasion, learn sales and learn about the language patterns of influence.  It will help you so much in your life…..

Final bit for this post about sales.  There is ethical sales and there is unethical sales.

I believe ethical sales is about understanding the person you are selling to and determining if they have the problem that the service you are trying to sell fixes it.  If you approach it in this way then if they don’t have the problem you are trying to fix then you can move on and find someone else to help.

Sales should be about helping everyone have a better life.  You have a product or service and you are selling it to someone to improve their situation.

There is a way to sell ethically.

I have got lots more to write about sales and how to do it and I will link the posts here as I write them.

For now I would love to know about unethical sales techniques that have been used on you to get you to do things.  Write them in the comments below!  One day I might tell you about the time we went on a tour to buy a time share in Orlando (that was an experience!)

Stay safe, don’t buy stuff you don’t need, and have fun helping make the world a better place if you are launching a business!

Happy New Year

Alan

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