Assume The Sale

by : Kurt Mortensen

The power of suggestion can also be extremely effective when you engage the emotions in your tactics. For example, when your car salesman says, "You're really going to love how this car handles in the mountains," he is shifting the focus away from the sale and creating an exciting image in your head. He is also speaking as though you had already agreed to the sale because you wouldn't be driving it in the mountains unless you were going to buy it. He's acting like it's a done deal--and the truth is, the more he does this, the more it is!

I love seeing door-to-door salespeople use this law to their advantage. They approach a door, ring the bell, and with a big smile tell the prospect they have a great presentation that person needs to see. Of course, they employ this strategy while they are wiping their feet on the person's doormat in expectation of being let in the house. You would be surprised how often this technique actually works. You see the salesperson handing the prospect his pen in expectation of signing the contract. Have you ever felt bad leaving a store or situation where you have not bought something? The store has created the expectation that you would make a purchase.

Using expectations, we can create immediate reactions to stimuli so the subject doesn't even have to think--they just perform the action. Discounts, closeouts, going out of business sales, and coupons are used to draw traffic to stores. Consumers assume they will receive a reduced purchase price by presenting the coupon or by going to a "going out of business sale." One tire company made an error in printing their coupon and the misprinted coupon offered no savings to recipients. However, this coupon produced just as much customer response as did the error-free coupon.

Presupposition is often utilized by using words and language that indicate your assumption that your offer has already been accepted. It is a tactic technique that is used both consciously and subconsciously. Consider the following examples (the assumption is expressed in parentheses):

"When do you want your couch sent?" (You want the couch.)

"Should I call you Tuesday or Wednesday?" (You want to talk again.)

"Your first class will start next Monday." (You're signing up for the class.)

You'd be amazed how often people will just go along with your proposal! They don't even stop and think about their response because now they're already finishing the deal in their mind!

Another way to use presupposition is to put it in writing. People always think that if something's in writing, then it must be true. We often go along with something we see without questioning it, just because it's what the directions say to do. For example, a particular "candid camera" stunt involved a stop sign placed on a sidewalk, even though there was no reason to stop there. The sign was in an odd place and there was no danger of oncoming traffic, but everyone obediently stopped and waited at the sign, just because it said to do so! In another spoof, a sign reading "Delaware Closed" actually made people start asking for how long Delaware was going to be closed for!

One form that expectations can take is in the shape of a placebo. A placebo is a nonmedicinal substance that is given to patients so they believe they are receiving medicine. Placebos were used during the Korean War when MASH units ran out of morphine. When medical workers gave wounded soldiers placebos, and 25 (written out?) percent of the soldiers reported a reduction in pain. The placebo works because the expectation that the "medicine" will help is so strong that our brains actually translate it into reality. In some studies, placebos worked 25 percent to 40 percent of the time!

Not only can our expectations make us well, but they can also make us sick. You may think, "I feel the flu coming on," and you will probably get it. Or if one of your coworkers says, "You look terrible. Are you coming down with something?" you probably will. Expectations have also been related to the occurrence and timing of death. Most elderly people view retirement homes as the end of the line, the last step in life. Mortality rates, for both men and women, double after admission to the retirement home.

The Nazi concentration camps fed off of the psychological expectation of death. Prison guards instilled hopelessness in prisoners. They created a psychological environment whereby the prisoners came to expect no chance at survival. Prisoners exhibited powerlessness, an inability to cope, and a diminished will to live--in a sense, a self-imposed death sentence.

One amazing example of the placebo effect occurred in Israel in 1991. Israeli citizens were seen wearing gas masks during scud bombings. Shortly thereafter, hospitals reported dozens of people complaining of symptoms of weapons that were never used. The gas masks were just a form of protection in case of chemical or biological warfare, but just seeing others wearing one caused people to become ill!

The most effective psychological tool for getting someone to follow through is to let him know that you believe he is the type of person who will follow through. Using phrases such as "You're the kind of person who..." or "You've always impressed me with your ability to ..." or "I've always liked the fact that you..." invoke the powerful psychological law of internal consistency. Winston Churchill, one of the greatest masters in dealing with people, said, "I have found that the best way to get another to acquire a virtue, is to impute it to him."

When people are aware of the good or bad opinions other people have about them, they want to live up to those opinions. This is why we act out the roles assigned to us. If we receive praise, we want to be worthy of that praise. There was a police officer who always seemed to be able to get even the toughest criminals to open up and tell him everything. His technique was to tell the criminal, "I know you have a reputation for being the tough guy who's been in a lot of trouble, but everyone tells me the one thing that stands out about you is that you never lie. They tell me that whatever you say, it's always the truth, no matter what."

Honestly assess how you think you make others feel when they're around you. Do you make them feel small and unimportant, or do you inspire them to achieve more? Your actions towards others will tell them how you feel or think about them. The German writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once stated, "Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be."

In our modern world, we are bound by time. This being the case, we have certain expectations about how time works and how long it will take us to accomplish something. Often, time becomes distorted through our perceptions and expectations. Why do some afternoons speed by faster than others? And why do we finish projects one minute before our deadline?

Parkinson's Law states that work expands to fill the time available. So, if a project is given a three-month deadline, it will take the full three months to complete. If that very same project is given a six-month timeframe, it will still take the full six months. It may sound strange, but the law has bearing because the time allotted for completion sets our expectations. It is actually our expectations that influence how we will work on a project and therefore when it will be completed. Ever notice how there's a sudden burst of activity right before the deadline appears? We all have the tendency to procrastinate, waiting until the final wire to do most of the work. This is why it is often effective to set multiple deadlines for large projects. Projects w/o deadlines never seem to be accomplished, no matter how good the intentions are.