Over in our Facebook Group we get a lot of questions in some variant of:
- “How do I ethically sell?”
- “When do I know to sell hard?”
- “How do I avoid being unethical with my persuasion?”
- “How do I not be manipulative?”
Questions like these are common from people who are learning to sell for the first time. They’re trying to understand the fine line between using their powers of persuasion for good and using them for evil.
This is something we teach a lot of beginner sales reps we work with. Or anyone who’s looking to get into in-person selling, really. It’s something I call the Philosophy of Sales and Magic. And I’d like to share it with you today.
Salesmen Are Magicians
If we consider magic, for a moment, there’s something called an incantation, which literally means “to speak something into existence.” When you say something and it becomes real, that’s magic. It’s an incantation.
And that’s exactly what we do when we sell. We’re magicians, straight up. We’re making words real, right? Even in the Bible, the Book of Genesis starts with speaking something into existence.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
Because that’s the power of the mind. The mind is what grants you control over your environment. If you look at the top performers in any domain, all the people we see as powerful and influential, it’s their mind that got them there.
One of my favorite Jay-Z lyrics is,
“…lock my body can’t trap my mind, easily explain how we adapt to crime…”
The reason I find this bar so interesting is that there's a criminal named Larry Hoover who was a gang leader who he ran the streets from inside Jail. Insane, right? He influenced the streets and made tens of millions of dollars using only the power of his mind.
That’s magic, right? And so, when you focus your mind and you make something real, that's an incantation, especially when you use the gift of gab in order to do it.
White Magic, Black Magic, And Selling
Ultimately, once you understand magic, you understand there's white magic and black magic.
All around the world, millions of people go to sorcerers, witches, voodoo doctors, or whatever they’re called, to do magic so they can hurt someone or get some benefit for themselves. Others use magic to deceive people and then take things from them. That's what we would typically call a con artist.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can use magic for good. And if we look at how people use magic to benefit others, those are acts we’re typically inspired by. And we love those people.
The Martin Luther Kings of the world, the Gandhis, the Mother Teresas, or even the Tony Robbins and those types of characters. We're fascinated by their ability to take their mind and then use incantations to affect the world for good.
Am I Selling For Good Or Evil?
And so the ultimate question in entrepreneurs’ and salesmen's minds is,
“How do I know when I'm doing it for good and when I'm doing it for evil? How do I know when I'm doing white magic or black magic?”
It's pretty simple. The key is,
“In whose interest are you doing it?”
Are you prioritizing your own best interest above theirs? Then you're not doing it for good, right?
And if you know it benefits you but hurts others, that’s when you’re getting close to black magic.
Why I Had To Leave The World Of Timeshares
Back when I was doing timeshare, I always felt like I a loser. If I made a sale, I felt like I was screwing over a family. And if I didn't make a sale, I felt like I was a loser.
I was in a lose-lose situation. It got to the point where I was so stressed, I would walk into the director of sales’ office and he’d say to me,
“Why don't you take your shoulders out of your ears?”
My whole demeanor was dejected.
I knew I was doing black magic and I didn't want to do it anymore. Because once you have that gift of gab and you have the power of incantation, you can actually manipulate anyone into doing anything. Because let's be real…
All Persuasion Is Manipulation
If you think it’s not, you're just kidding yourself. You are going to manipulate someone. That’s sales. The only questions are,
“In whose interest is it?”
“Is it going to benefit them or is it going to harm them”?
This manipulation has been happening since you were a little child. And now, you probably do it to your own children. Maybe you tell them,
“If you eat your vegetables, I’ll give you an ice cream.”
That’s manipulation in the child’s best interests.
Or to go even further, imagine a parent telling their child they’re going on vacation and then taking them to rehab. That’s straight-up lying to the child. But again, it’s in their best interests.
And this is what you must understand. If you're going to manipulate someone, it must be in their best interest. Otherwise, you're doing black magic.
The kid that got tricked into going to rehab. Maybe that lie saved his life. Maybe they come out of it grateful for the experience and to their parents.
The Ethics Of Persuasion
Are you leaving the person better off than when you found them? Or are you leaving them worse off?
If it’s the former, you’re good to go. If it’s the latter, especially if you’re benefiting from leaving them worse off, you’re in for a world of hurt.
I have this saying,
“You earn the face you wear.”
When I used to see timeshare salesmen, they all had this scowl on their faces. Their mask was one of stress and negative emotions. And it’s because of all the black magic they did – benefiting from harming others.
The opposite is wonderful – using your gift of selling, of manipulation, to leave people better off than when you found them – because you still get rewarded!
The Key To Unlimited Wealth
It’s like that old Zig Ziglar line,
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
If you help people reach their goals and make their lives better, so much so they come back and thank you for it, you’ll get rich in the process.
And that's when you know that you're on the right side of the magic.
The Salesman’s Code
“I mean, don’t get it twisted, I do some dirt too. But I ain’t never put my gun on nobody who wasn’t in the Game.”
“A man must have a code.”
“Oh, no doubt.”
– Omar and Bunk, the Wire
The best way to think about sales is to treat it like a fiduciary duty to whoever it is you're serving.
If, when you serve someone, what you're doing is not in their best interests, then something's out of alignment. And if whatever you're doing is in their best interests, that's when you're on the right path.
You'll know because you'll feel it emotionally. You'll see the effects of it, in your own internal state, and in your bank account.
Sales is the ability to speak something into existence. In magic, this is called an incantation. Magic can be black or white. White magic helps others. Black magic harms.
And whether you like it or not, all sales, all persuasion, is manipulation. You can manipulate for good or evil. That is, you’re either doing white magic or black magic.
If what you’re doing benefits you but harms another person, you’re doing black magic.
If what you’re doing benefits you while also benefiting another person…OR what you’re doing benefits another at your expense…you’re going white magic.
The good salesman treats his relationship with the prospect as a fiduciary duty and only does what’s in their best interests. Treating selling this way is the key to unlimited wealth.
If you enjoyed this article on the ethics of persuasion and you’d like to learn more about sales, persuasion, and psychology, join our Facebook group.
You’ll get access to our latest training videos before they’re published anywhere else, PLUS exclusive Q&As, special offers, guest interviews, and more.