The Thin Line Between Persuasion and Manipulation
What if I said that sales and marketing's job is to 'manipulate' perception in the market?
How did you react when you read the word manipulate? Probably not too positively. Manipulation is a bad thing,right?
Yet we practice the art of persuasion every day in our businesses. We bend our audiences' beliefs through the stories and information we share, through the brand or image we create, through the sales discussions we craft so carefully.
So how do we know if we're manipulating our persuading?
It's such a fine distinction. Just look at the definitions:
Manipulate. 'The artful management of a situation' or 'persuasion with a negative intent'.
Sell or Market. 'To persuade or induce buying behavior' or ' to cause to be accepted'.
A recent example of a very public manipulation would be Madoff and his investors. Everybody lost on that deal. But here's a question for you. If Madoff's story were true - the results real - would it be viewed as manipulation - or persuasive sales and marketing? Tough one, huh?
Where is the line between persuasion and manipulation?
For me, it's all about intent - and integrity.
It's that simple - but it's also a personal stance. One man's line will be different than another man's. One situation may be different than another. That makes it really hard sometimes - because there will probably be people who draw their lines farther and farther into the darkness. But that doesn't mean you have to follow them. Manipulation always backfires in a loss of credibility. So why go there in the first place?
Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you draw your line.
- Are these statements really a true representation of what my business can do for my audience? Am I stretching the facts too far?
- Am I intentionally guiding my audience in a direction that's against their best interests?
- Am I willing to sacrifice the best interest of my audience for my own gain? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to win?
When we offer real customer value, we can persuade our audiences without manipulation.
Stick to our integrity, persuade with the truth and always focus on a Win/Win.