Maybe she was joking, but I wasn’t laughing.
I was angry. This kind of manipulation – that is, using guilt to get people to invest – is bad business.
Yet, more and more, I am seeing coaches and consultants use guilt and shame in order to get people to buy. Here are just some of the guilt trips I’ve seen:
- “You’re an idiot if you don’t…” Now there’s a challenge if I ever saw one! (And yes, I’ve really seen people say this- and much worse – selling from the stage.)
- “If you don’t buy this, you are not a serious entrepreneur.” Another challenge. (This one came straight from a big entrepreneur guru at her live bright and shiny big deal event.)
- “If you have to choose between my product and going hungry, you should choose my product because you’ll learn how to never go hungry again. ” This ‘Gone with the Wind’ approach should immediately put up warning signals about the person’s morals.
- “Imagine how much better your life will be…” Now this gets the prospect to start thinking about how sometime in the future could look like if they invested in a product or program. It’s not too bad a way to approach a sales process, although it’s a bit cliché. But when paired with “So doesn’t that life seem so much better?” (or the equivalent) it is a nice little punch in the gut.
- “You owe it to yourself…” Another cliché that twists the guilt knife.
Look, I know any decision where you hand over money (either a donation or a sale) is partly based on emotion. But are guilt and shame the emotions we want our prospects to be feeling when they buy? Not for me. I believe the more ethical seller (and we are all sellers if we are in business) would focus more on benefits and values, rather than pull the emotional heartstrings using guilt and shame.
What do you think? Have you ever seen guilt or shame used in order to try to get you to buy? How did you react to that?