I’m finding it harder and harder to not be cynical when I talk to new people these days because everyone seems to be selling something. The collection of stuff they are selling ranges from the extremely useful to the useless to the dangerous. I don’t remember it being this way before; although that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been this way all along. It could just be that I’ve woken-up after indulging myself in the Landmark philosophy of infinite possibility and collective synergy once I began to experience what was being sold by some of their leadership people.
I suppose it isn’t anyone’s fault. Be it ourselves, our story, our skills, our companies products or the latest MLM supplement, we’re all selling something. I have less of an issue when it is ourselves that we are selling – it’s nice to be liked, you could say that it is a social imperative, and being lonely or hated isn’t much fun. And when it comes to ourselves, we generally have a good idea of what we are all about. Others may know more about us than we know ourselves, but we’ve spend enough time being ourselves to we are kind of experts on it. Generally speaking, we know what we bring to the table.
The challenge I’m having is with the stuff people are selling as most people seem to be clueless about it. At best they are honestly ignorant but more and more common are they actively ignorant who are selling out to make a buck. They deliberately avoid objective information about their products and instead focus on the anecdotal stories as evidence or proof.
For example, MLM products tend to be of very low quality and sell that a highly inflated process. True, the business model needs to be this way – revenue needs to be handed off to those who are higher-up in the company – but those caught-up in the collective delusion tend to be very irresponsible when it comes to the claims they make about the product line. Very few of the people involved with selling MLM supplements know anything about what they are selling. They present themselves as knowing, their products as a God send for whatever ails you and are eager to enroll you as a reseller but will always defer to a website or their company expert for the hard questions. Evidence comes from in-house sources and objective scientific evidence does not gain entry into their collective consciousness.
This is EVERYWHERE! Go to a dentist, let them know that you have benefits and notice just how bad your teeth are. Call them up later and say that you don’t have coverage and only want the necessary work done, notice the change in recommendation. There are a bunch of “concerns” in my mouth that haven’t turned into the cavities the dentist said were coming.
Take your car to the dealership for some repairs, then take it to your brother-in-law and notice the difference in what needs to be fixed. When someone is getting paid $110 / hour for labor, there’s going to be more wrong with your car than when they are already married to your sister.
Go to a chiropractor and then go to an osteopath and then to an athletic therapist. Notice how the duration for your treatment will differ and how there is little consensus on what is wrong with you. Although the treatment plan will be different, all three should make the same diagnosis.
Make no mistake about it, if someone is selling something their product / service is for you. It doesn’t need to be surreptitious, many peoples have such positive experiences with something that they believe that everyone will benefit from it.
I used to believe that everyone would benefit from personal training, taking-up cycling or eating well. While there are undeniable benefits from exercising properly and eating appropriate amounts of good quality whole foods, I no longer believe that everyone should do this. Once I realized that some people identify themselves as inactive, unhealthy and over weight, I stopped believing that active and healthy was a natural state for them. In fact, I believe intervening in these cases is wrong. Selling fitness improvement services, and active lifestyle and dietary habits is NOT in the best interests of people who do not identify themselves as worthy of that way of being.
How do you avoid being sold to?
Assume that people are always selling and observe them objectively or critically as though they are a teacher. Their sincerity and honesty may be real and they may believe that they are simply distributing advice – it may not be their fault that what they are selling is garbage.
Keep your money in your wallet / pocket and don’t buy from them when on the first encounter. If what they are selling is of high quality, it’ll still be available is a day or week or month when you have made an educated decision to buy.
Ask a lot of questions and get the people to explain their answers. Avoid buying from people who get defensive when you ask product knowledge questions or question their authority. Experts know their subject matter and, when money is on the line, they expect people to question their authority.
Know as much as you can about the thing you are inquiring about BEFORE you engage the seller. The more you know, the less of an expert the other person becomes.
Ask the question “who would not benefit from your service or product?” and then ask “why would they not benefit?” Experts will know who their services / products are not suitable for. E.g when I asked an exceptional personal trainer friend who would not want to buy their training services they replied with “people who don’t mind risking getting injured when they workout, those who don’t want to learn how to train more effectively and those who aren’t interested in transforming their body and life.” Someone who has less skill would have replied “everyone would want to buy my services” which is false.