The Difference Between Persuading And Manipulating


Imagine your brand new customer sitting on the corner of his bed the night after he bought from you.

“I can’t believe I let that scumbag convince me to buy that worthless widget.”

That’s a customer who is defeated. Someone talked him into buying. Someone backed him into a corner he felt he could not escape.

Everyone has experienced this at least one point in their lives. It’s why we guard ourselves against sales and marketing attempts.

Now imagine a different scenario.

It’s the night after you sold him on your $2,000 widget. She is sipping some wine, maybe cooking a fancy dinner and listening to music. She’s excited. She did her homework and bought the best widget in her budget. She even got the salesperson to throw in some extras.

We have all experienced that too. We buy something that fulfills a desire. Nobody strong armed us or backed us into a corner. We made our own decision. It was 100% free-will.

The difference between the first scenario and the second is the difference between manipulation and persuasion.

The persuader in the second scenario led his prospect down a path. She came to a conclusion on her own to buy, preserving the self-esteem and dignity of the customer.

The manipulator strong-armed his customer. He backed him into a corner where a “no” would have been a contradiction.  He got the sale. Fine, but he stripped dignity out of the exchange.

Alternate Paths To A “Yes”

There are many ways to get to a yes.

In Zig Ziglar’s “Secrets Of Closing The Sale,” he makes a casual reference to persuasion. I’m paraphrasing here.

“Persuasion leads someone to change their mind while preserving their dignity.”

I’ve listened to that audio book several times over the years. I never noticed that profound comment until yesterday.

It’s an important distinction from manipulation. Manipulation is convincing someone to change their mind by stripping them of their dignity.

You can have a customer sitting on the edge of his bed sulking in regret, cursing you for tricking him. You can have a customer enjoying a glass of wine and fancy dinner, happy about her decision.



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