Serving vs Manipulating


There are tons of books out there about how to sell products and services to people, and a lot of those books talk about using manipulative techniques to do it. Often they will devote a few paragraphs to a defence of manipulation in selling, since “all of life is a form of manipulation,” that “not all manipulation is wrong or dishonest,” etc.

Manipulators like to argue that they are only helping people make decisions that would be right for them anyway. The decision that must be made, that is right for “everyone,” that is a “win-win,” is the decision that the manipulator has already chosen as the best outcome. The needs and desires of the customer are either ignored completely, or only exist in the mind of the manipulator.

A hundred years ago, a little book called The Science of Getting Rich addressed this issue:

To set about getting rich in a scientific way, you do not try to apply your will power to anything outside of yourself. You have no right to do so, anyway… It is as flagrantly wrong to coerce people by mental power as it is to coerce them by physical power. If compelling people by physical force to do things for you reduces them to slavery, compelling them by mental means accomplishes exactly the same thing…

A hundred years later, we’re starting to comprehend that.

More entrepreneurs and sellers are becoming conscious of the need to serve clients first and foremost. The idea is to serve people well, with a great product, so that other customers will be drawn to you magnetically. This way, customers convince each other with word of mouth, rather than the seller doing all the heavy lifting.

Out of this comes a new paradigm of service and caring:

  1. I get really clear about what I do best, and whom I most love to serve.
  2. I begin offering real value up front, with free samples, e-books, workshops, and other products or services that require very little risk to consume.
  3. Clients learn to trust me (or not) based on what I have already done for them.
  4. Clients decide to come to me (or go elsewhere) based on their perception of the value that I have offered and continue to offer to them.

This model is based on my passion to serve my clients first, followed by faith that the good karma I generate will be rewarded by good client relationships.

Of course, this also requires good business models to back it up – volunteering services does not guarantee a profit! Once I have good relationships with my clients, it’s my responsibility to continue fostering those relationships. At this stage, it becomes easier to offer a valuable, profitable package for my clients to consider purchasing, based on the trust they already have in my ability to deliver.

The customer always has the power to make an informed decision, without being manipulated dishonestly.

And by focusing on service, rather than on trying to get something from the customer, we get to keep our souls and feed our spirits.

What do you think? Does that work for you?

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About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
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