We Are All Salespeople At Birth

by Jacques Werth

As new born infants, our survival depends on how well we can manipulate adults, usually our parents, in order to get what we need to thrive.  We are instinctively programmed to keep trying all kinds of tactics to get nourishment, comfort, and safety.  Fortunately, our parents and most other adults are programmed to respond well to this.  We then continue to learn manipulation and persuasion techniques as our lives go on.

By the time we are in our teens, we have been inundated with hundreds of different marketing, advertising, and sales tactics.  In response to those tactics, we learn how to resist the techniques that others use on us to try to make us do what they want.  This is the origin of sales resistance.

Sales experts are constantly developing new methods intended to negate our sales resistance.  However, no matter how subtle or persuasive their methods may be, most people have learned to intuitively sense it when they are being pushed or preyed upon.

Nevertheless, we have to buy stuff that we need and want.  Given a choice, we prefer to buy from a person whom we trust.  We also want to be trusted by others.  It’s not easy to become the kind of salesperson that people feel like trusting.  There is so much unlearning to do.  However, when we succeed at that we are far happier with our lives.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

7 thoughts on “We Are All Salespeople At Birth”

  1. good book: “LieSpotting”. the author Pamela Meyer can be seen on youtube as part of the “TED” series. Studied the work of Ekman which was used for the TV show “Lie to me”.


  2. As said the only long term and sustainable way is to build and increase trust up to the price of no (short-term) deal. As Stephen Covey said: Win-win or no deal are the only reasonable options.


  3. Tom S. and Goetz –

    I have no doubt that the authors you mentioned provide valuable concepts.

    However, I don’t think that either addressed the issue of how to become the kind of salesperson that people feel like trusting – immediately.


    1. agreed. in fact, upon closer reading, the Meyer book actually recommends manipulative methods to gain agreement in business situations.


  4. Today I met with a prospect to discuss the need for life insurance (I’m an insurance agent). Without his wife present, the prospect was unable to commit to the sale; so I considered it a victory that I was able to set an appointment for next week—with the expectation that the client would complete an application and submit a payment. Then, as I got up to leave, a wave of depression came over me.

    “He’ll cancel,” I said to myself, “as so many had before.”

    In desperation, I straightened my back, turned to the prospect, and spoke the following words:

    “Nathan, in this business I get told “No” quite frequently. But it’s rarely a simple “No.” Instead, people become unreachable: they won’t answer the phone; they won’t return my messages, my texts, or my emails. So, after I leave, if you decide that this isn’t a fit, that you want to go in another direction, or that you prefer to work with a different agent, you can tell me “No.” Are you OK with that?”

    How can I express how it felt to speak those words? I was liberated, free, unburdened. The overall sensation was one of relief. At first the prospect appeared startled; then he smiled and said, “Of course. Thanks for saying that.” He seemed to be slightly amazed.

    The late David Sandler called this his “up front contract” with the prospect. Now, I know Jacques would call the entire High Probability system a sort of contract; after all, that’s what it means when the salesperson and the prospect negotiate mutual commitments. But in High Probability Selling, the prospect is not actually aware that he is being disqualified. Why not tell him? For example:

    “Mr. Prospect, I have prepared some questions that will help determine if we have a mutually beneficial basis for doing business together. In contrast to traditional sales presentations, you will have every opportunity to say “No.” I’ll disclose all costs, trade-offs, and product limitations; I’ll tell you up-front if we cannot meet your terms for quality, price, or service; and if you have a preferred vendor, I’ll respect that. Are you willing to proceed in this manner?”

    I suspect that most prospects would heartily agree, at which point the salesperson can smoothly transition to the disqualification questions. Does anyone have any comments?

    Thank you, David Ross


  5. David,
    I can’t help but wonder if you reviewed your Rules of Engagement beforehand, which includes both parties being present for the uninterrupted time frame. If so, he did not live up to his end of the agreement and your continuing with the appointment reduced your credibility and self-respect. Otherwise, by omitting that particular Rule of Engagement, you set yourself up for the panic. You did make a good recovery, albeit unnecessary if the Rules of Engagement are followed.

    Enjoyed your post.



  6. David,
    Whether you use the “Up Front Contract,” or try to do the same kind of thing after meeting with prospects, you are using veiled persuasion. Persuasion cripples closing rates.

    The risk is that you will probably continue to do the same thing if it works out well this time.

    During the prospecting call, we get a commitment to have both parties present, and a commitment that they will buy, if we can meet their requirements. At the appointment, we immediately verify those commitments before we do anything else. Thus, we don’t have to do any persuading or convincing.



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