Or why pretending to be someone’s Grandmother isn’t going to help you get that order.

My latest favorite term is Sales Prevention Officer… borrowed from Jonathan Farrington on the Eyes on Sales blog. Professional, effective sales processes are a combination of art and science. A great sales person is trained in acting, engineering, politics, relationship building and strategic planning.

The best salespeople understand personal improvement is a never ending process. They study constantly and follow a process or systematic approach. They invest for the long term. But some people feel the need to cheat the system. They seek a faster and less arduous path to making fast money rather than a long term process.

That is why I admire some of the “schemes” the Sales Prevention Officers invent. The lengths that some people will go- believing that there is a way to shortcut success- are incredible. And the latest one my wife received was a total deception that fizzled for one simple reason. But more about that in a minute.

If people make their buy decisions based on the “know, like and trust” factor (and this is an immutable law of sales) then how can anyone expect to circumvent one of these three tenants with false or misleading messages or tactics? Human behavior is largely predictable and a good understanding of how people’s preference of behavior affects their decision making process can be an invaluable tool in sales.

So if being deceptive, if trying to be clever to get an appointment or if using tricks to get in touch with a decision maker are a violation of trust why do people believe they are a faster track for quick success? Perhaps they think the general public are sheep?

Here is my wife’s story

A letter arrived in the mail last week. It looked odd to her so she gave it to me. It was a plain white No.10 envelope with no return address, using an ordinary stamp and addressed using a Courier font (like anyone still uses a typewriter today!)

Now the clever part… inside was a carefully folded newspaper article featuring a “story” relevant only to married woman. The newsprint was light and dry (ink on real newsprint takes days to fully dry which is why it easily rubs off on your fingers when you read your daily) and the left edge had a pretty realistic “tear” to it- but a little too consistent and straight a pattern to have been real. But all told, it was a terrific fabrication, a close facsimile of a real torn newspaper article at first glance.

Someone should get points for style and originality.

But when was the last time you read a three column by full height article in any newspaper? That is a lot of space! And the copy just screamed sales pitch, with separators speaking about one pain point after another. And of course it closed with the guaranteed solution, along with something else that was included for free. Buried in some very fine print at the end was an admission that the piece was actually an advertisement.

But what tied it all together was the yellow sticky-note at the top, immediately greeting you when you opened the envelope. In big blue handwriting it said “Sally, Thought you’d be interested, – K”.

It’s shown here in the image.

Deceptive Sales Tactics 101 Modified


Nice! Make it appear to be from someone you know and maybe they’ll act on the offer, although the recipient has no clue who actually sent it to them. Ah! The root of the deception is complete.

But it fizzled with my wife, an incredibly intelligent and risk-averse individual who saw through the deception beginning with the envelope! Her behavioral preference immediately made her suspicious of the article, and was profoundly insulted that someone might pretend to be an acquaintance.

Nope. No way. No how. She was never going to act on this offer, even if it had been a good one (*it was not).

There is a better way

We have amazing information and data gathering resources available to us today.

  • Consider the inbound marketing tools we now have at our fingertips, systems that allow us to easily build credibility in our product or services and support it with automated lead generation (we use and recommend Hubspot)
  • Look at all of the social media tools we have to research the decision makers in our target audience (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, along with aggregators like Nimble)
  • Access to portals for content creation (E-Lance, Zerys)
  • Grab hold of proven and relevant sales training processes (Sandler, TripleWin Sales)

With today’s sophisticated marketing environment no one who is serious about his/her craft should have to resort to deception or overpromising in order to be successful over the long term. And with training and strategic management the odds are heavily weighted in our favor… and we must succeed because of all those who shortcut the process and make a bad name for everyone else!