Sales “Tricks” and Secrets You Should Be Using

Want to improve your sales skills? Learn what the sales pros do. The article below by Art Sobczak shares 10 ideas that can help you increase your sales by helping people.

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” – Mark Hunter

Sales “Tricks” and Secrets You Should Be Using

By Art Sobczak

I’m amused by the articles I see written by non-salespeople about us-sales pros– and the secrets and “tricks” that are used to supposedly manipulate people into forking over their money.

It’s as if we belong to this underground society and have powers that hypnotize helpless customers. If it were that easy a lot more people would be hitting quota, right?

Actually though, most of these articles do have merit. They point out the proven influence and persuasion principles that great salespeople, marketers, negotiators, teachers, parents or anyone in a position of influence uses, or should use.

What the writers normally don’t get is that real sales pros aim to help people by using these techniques, not to deceive them.

I came across one the other day someone had dug up and sent me the link to. Let’s look at the 10 “tricks” that Matt Brownell warned people about in his Main Street column for MSN Money. I’ll add my comments.

1. Flattery. He points out that a top car salesperson revealed a trick that is guaranteed to work with women: Telling her that the color of a car matches her eyes. Really.

Well, as cheesy as that might seem, flattery is proven to work. In his classic book, Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini did studies where even in situations where someone knew the flattery was bogus, they still felt good about it afterward.

Here’s a mild version of it on the phone: Instead of the tired “How are you today?” question, try telling them they sound like they are having a good day.

Whenever a prospective training client, a sales manager or VP tells me that they are doing well and beating quota I always congratulate him or her on what a good job they must be doing.

2. Manufactured Scarcity. The article says, “If you can create the notion that a product or deal is scarce or limited, you create a sense of urgency that will spur the customer to buy.”

Again, true, and proven. If you have a limited-time offer, closeout items, or anything that will expire, point that out to create urgency.

3. Marking Down the Markup. This is an example I see all the time at my local grocery store. They will mark up the baby back ribs to around $8 a pound, and then hold a “Two for one” sale. This is the one item in the article I consider a ploy, I personally think is insulting and suggest avoiding it.

4. Accessorizing. They use the example of a furniture store taking a core item, like a bed, and surrounding it with items that would be in a bedroom…with the intention of getting you to buy other items.

Yes, hello, it’s cross-selling, and very effective.

And it’s not a trick, it’s helpful for customers. If someone is buying a tablet computer, perhaps they might want an extra power cord, since people like me tend to leave them in hotel rooms, or just lose them.

The best time to increase the size of a sale is when someone is already buying.

5. Making a House Feel Like a Home. The article cites the real estate examples of baking cookies to create a homey aroma, wetting the grass to make it shine, and putting on mood music.

That’s a trick? NO.

If we have something to sell, don’t we want to make it as attractive as possible?

6. The Emotional Play. This article actually got a bit absurd in its obviousness as it progressed. This “trick”–are you sitting down–says that salespeople try to appeal to your emotions so that you will emotionally feel good about a possible purchase and have that override any rational objections. Like asking you to buy the car right after the test drive.

That actually is the goal of any sales conversation.

Here’s another one: a professor of psychology says that nodding your head and smiling helps to get someone to buy. Wow, what a Jedi mind-trick that is!

Seriously, of course our job is to get someone to picture themselves already owning, using, and enjoying the results of our products and services. The more skilled you are at this, the more successful you are.

7. Fun With Words and Numbers. Which sounds like a better deal: “Buy one, get a second 50% off” or “Buy two, get both for 25% off”?

The article points out, these mean exactly the same thing. And when salespeople use the word “free” it helps sales. Absolutely. Use it.

8. Making You Feel Obligated. They give examples of car dealers or stores giving you cookies or sodas, since “We’re kind of prewired to have a sense of reciprocity, and it takes the smallest amount of niceness on the part of a salesperson to make you feel obligated to buy,”

Yes, most definitely. Reciprocity is another proven principle of influence that Cialdini covers in his book. This is especially effective after a first sale, whereby providing extras to a customer can help create a more loyal customer.

9. The Snooty Waiter. While being helpful is usually the way to go, the article points out that high-end establishments get away with acting highbrow in attempts to get you to spend more, such as scoffing at the thought of buying a cheap bottle of wine.

In traditional sales this has long been taught as the “takeaway,” where you act as if a buyer needs to qualify in order to purchase.

For example, an investment salesperson might say that a certain minimum is required to get into a fund. While you don’t want to be an arrogant jerk, you should stand behind your price and the value you deliver, since otherwise, they won’t.

10. Exclusivity. This is making customers feel like they are members of some exclusive club.

Agreed. If part of your value proposition is that you are unique, and especially if you are the top choice in your space, by all means play that up. Know anyone that owns a Harley? You bet, they are members of that club and proud of it.

So, there you have 10 sales “tricks.” Actually, for the most part they are sound principles of persuasion that I suggest you research, refine, adapt, and implement to increase your own sales, which is not trickery at all, but helping people buy.


Do these sales secrets work for you or do they feel deceptive? What have your found to be your most successful sales techniques? I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Please comment below.

Art Sobczak, Business By Phone Inc., provides how-to ideas and tips for rejectionless prospecting, selling, and servicing by phone. Get the free ebook, “501 Telephone Sales Tips!” at