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What Unethical Offers Can Teach Us About Sales Strategy

14 MAR 2013
Career Path : Sales

It seems that every day there is some new scam hitting our emails or mail boxes, unsolicited and often ludicrous. It could be a fraudulent appeal masquerading as a tip from a friend or offering something “too good to be true.”€ The characteristics are often the same, updated to the current economic and social climate. Human psychology and its inherent weaknesses of fear and greed remain essentially unchanged even as many grow savvy and rightly suspicious of mysterious offers, but the old con artist’€™s adage is as true today as ever: “there’s a sucker born every minute”€. Anyone can fall victim to a scam in these uncertain times but instead of dismissing them outright, why not examine the successful ones a little closer to see what they can teach the average ad man?

Curiosity Lures the Cat

Most scams take advantage of the uncertainty factor – sometimes we’€™re pretty sure it’s a scam and avoid it but still a little curiosity lingers. Some recent creative ploys feature lines suggesting someone has “€œunfriended”€ you or is making rumours about you. This technique preys on our desire for social acceptance and since the answer seems only a simple mouse-click away, we are more likely to want to find out who in the same way movie cliff-hangers keep us watching till the end€“ closure. More ethical sales associates can exploit this trick by determining what their prospects are curious about – competition, new trends, etc. and framing presentations in a way that induces this curiosity. The simplicity in these messages and the actions they are requesting is another factor that encourages taking the bait. We are more likely to act when it seems that taking an action won’€™t require much time or effort. Any sales strategy can be strengthened by clearly demonstrating the ease with which decisions will impact results.

There Are No Free Lunches

The old bait and switch is a classic business maneuver, offering free goods or trial periods with hidden fees attached somewhere along the line. Scammers use this trick but so do many reputable businesses. €œLoss leader€ products bring in the crowds who are then convinced to buy something costlier.

Shrinking the Funnel

One of the more notorious scams in recent years involve emails from someone in “€œNigeria”€ needing help to move huge sums of money in exchange for a hefty commission. At first glance it seems unbelievable that anyone could fall for it and yet it happens. Analysts suggest the very implausibility of the story works in its favour to filter out potential skeptics so that with a smaller pool of likely victims the scammer wastes less time to maximize profit. Efficient sales management means understanding the costs per conversion associated with each source. Adapting your front end marketing to produce fewer prospects that convert to sales more often on average, having your audience self-qualify, can actually lead to better bottom lines.

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