OK, spoiler alert, No. 🙂
But we do see it all around. High-pressure, creepy folks who insinuate their way into our attention, and then tell lies and half-truths to sell their stuff.
It’s particularly prevalent in what I do for a living, which is teaching people about marketing and business. But by no means is the creepiness confined to that topic.
I see scammy, predatory marketing in any field you can think of, including:
- Health (so much BS in this one)
- Personal development
- Dog training
In other words, if it’s a topic that people will spend money on, there’s a scumbag somewhere who’s willing to lie to get some of that money.
Which leads to two depressing questions.
- How can we avoid getting burned by liars and crooks?
- Do we have to turn into liars and crooks ourselves in order to market our businesses?
Rather than stay depressed, let’s address this mess head-on.
How to stay free of predatory salespeople
I was going to write about something totally different today, but this one kept coming up in my Facebook Feed.
There is much that can be said on this topic, but I’ll cover some highlights from my experience. Becca Tracey had a great rant on this, originally published a few years ago, that I thought was very smart.
In addition to Becca’s wealth of practical advice, I can give you a lodestone:
If you are desperate, be careful.
I think we’re seeing an epidemic of shitweasels at the moment because so many of us are incredibly stressed, and that’s when the shitweasels come out to feed.
I have had, at various points in my professional life, an annoying (expensive) habit of looking for a business savior, because I didn’t believe I “had what it takes” to be successful.
If you’ve seen me get ragey about that idea, this is why.
When you don’t see your own power, you’re vulnerable to some clown who is less smart than you are, less capable than you are, and has no qualms about exploiting your insecurity to line his pockets.
Good coaches or consultants in any field respect your agency and autonomy. They call on you to develop your bravest, wisest self, instead of promising to be your pseudo-parent and solve all of your problems.
Why don’t sleazy coaches do this? Because then you’ll figure out that the most important “success secret” you have is you.
Good coaches ask you a lot of clarifying questions, point you in fruitful directions, hold you accountable to what you already know you need to do, and hold your hand when it’s scary.
Horrible coaches give you a “success-getting system” (for any topic), then put the blame on you when their “system” doesn’t work.
How to sell without becoming a predatory salesperson
There’s a component of this that’s going to sound too simplistic.
It sounds a little bit like Samantha Bee’s PSA to potential workplace harassers. (NSFW.)
Most predators, in my experience, are groomed by other predators. They learn “not to take no for an answer” (um, “no” is an answer), or how to undermine their victims’ confidence to leave them more vulnerable.
It’s a specific skill set. Some people are very good at it. I recommend you not pursue that.
But there’s a corollary to that. I see advice like,
The best way to sell is never to sell anything, just make something really good and people will stumble across it.
And in my experience, this doesn’t work.
- You have to learn to stand up and say, What I have to offer is valuable.
- You have to learn basic copywriting stuff like benefits vs. features, calls to action, and risk reversal.
- You have to understand the psychology of why people buy, and create messages that respect that psychology.
There truly is a middle road.
Here’s the brutal truth:
The middle, ethical road doesn’t work as well as being a lying shitweasel, if you’re good at being a lying shitweasel.
Some of those guys really do make a lot of money.
But you’re not going to do that anyway, because Ew.
“Sales” isn’t a dirty word, and I’m not willing to let the creeps and scumbags own the game.
If your product or service helps people, you deserve to sell it and to find success. No shitweaselry required.
I’ve written a lot about this topic, because getting over my own hangups about selling was difficult and necessary. Here are a couple that might help you out — and if you want me to dig more into this topic, just drop a comment below with your thoughts!
- My post for Copyblogger about What Effective Selling Looks Like
- My post here on Remarkable Communication on How Not to Be a Dirty Rotten Spammer
I have a few spots open to work one-on-one
Update: These coaching spots are filled, but stay tuned as I should be opening up some more in a month or two. 🙂
In case you didn’t see my email earlier this week, I have two spots available to work with me one-on-one as your coach.
And this is me telling you about that, clearly, ethically, and without pretending I’m an all-powerful guru who will fix all of your problems. 🙂
If you’re looking for a business, strategy, or writing coach, I might be the one you’re looking for. I’ve seen plenty of highs and plenty of lows, and I have about a decade of experience working with business owners and marketers who need help with their content and marketing strategy.
Here’s the page with details — I’m going to be reviewing applications over the weekend, and will get in touch with my two new clients on Monday, October 23.
If this isn’t for you … I get it. It’s not for most people! And that’s completely cool.
My primary goal is to make a closer connection with a couple of folks and help out with some meaty, structural problems, because that’s fun and interesting.
How about you?
Do you get hung up around selling?
Have you had any horrible experiences with salespeople? (Often these two are related.)
Let us know in the comments. 🙂
Creative Commons image courtesy of Pixabay