Persuasion vs Manipulation in SaaS Sales

Persuasion vs Manipulation in SaaS Sales is a topic that many of us speak about, but not directly. During corporate retreats we might dive into the dynamics of persuasion vs manipulation but tactically there is often little difference in our day to day if we are not actively considering the methods we are using to sell. 

We are engaged by sales pitches all the time. Whether in a SaaS Demo or shopping for shoes, there are psychological bias at play and then there are the more sinister manipulations that can take place resulting in a sale. As a seller, either way you make a deal, BUT how good is that in the long run? Persuasion vs Manipulation, is the Golden Rule of sales. 

 Demo Solutions always coaches for the honorable or persuasive route in Sales Training, but it is important to notice when you are using manipulative tactics vs persuasive because you might not know the difference in past training and how you currently run your sales process. 

Are you persuading someone or manipulating someone to win business? 

There are defining elements to persuasion vs manipulation; intent and result. Both persuasion and manipulation use emotions to achieve results, however the intent and result is going to vary. To determine whether you are manipulating or persuading, we can reduce the tactics into two buckets also, whether you are giving them complete truth and access to information or you are withholding information to sway an outcome. 

Puppets Persuasion vs Manipulation in SaaS Sales

What are the fundamental differences between persuasion and manipulation? 

Aristotle in ancient Greece was one of the earliest in recorded history to have this debate, persuasion vs manipulation with the Sophists. It was Aristotle that claimed the most important fundamental difference between persuasion and manipulation was the truth. When you are using manipulative tactics such as coercion, you are essentially telling a lie. Conversely, when you are using persuasive techniques, you are telling the truth, but with effects such as bias. 

Both tactics, coercion and using psychological bias are natural consequences of seeking to get to a desired outcome but the intent is different and the truth is on the side of the bias. One example of using a bias in persuasion would be using the Framing Effect. You would frame an offer or proposition differently to persuade an audience. This is not a manipulation, this is pure sales. 

Persuasion is using the available information to convince an audience of a common goal or solution. It would entail getting every audience member to your viewpoint using data and emotion, but not with intent to deceive the audience. Manipulating the audience can include information that is misleading or trying to pit factions against each other to advance a deal. 

Does the Practice of Persuasion over Manipulation Advance Relationships Long Term? 

Quick exercise, what does buyers remorse feel like, after you have shopped for something and feel you were talking into something you didn’t need or want? Maybe the sales person created urgency that it was limited edition, and that the color, while not something that usually works for you (electric yellow) is the pantone newest discovered hue. So it is possible that these two facts are true and you were caught up in an emotional buy, but it is also possible that you were being manipulated. The way you will feel afterwards when you learn that garment was on sale and that the color is not new at all and is taxi cab yellow. Would you buy from that person again? No. 

Manipulation is commonly a short term win but a long term risk, because short term deceptions are often really easy to prove later and the emotions that result after a deception are irreversible. Persuasion takes a lot more effort, but results in more sustainable sales. It is our job as sales and presales professionals to win deals. 

We are always researching ways to reach our goals and it can be very tempting to use the latest manipulation to win a deal, however it is not the honorable thing to do. Persuasion is the heavy lifting, takes research, patience, consideration of multiple viewpoints, but when you persuade a client that you solution is the right one, you will win business for a much longer life cycle. 

Ultimately, how can we use Persuasion vs Manipulation in SaaS Sales 

Let’s go over some persuasive tacts that are not manipulative to give you better demos today. 

  1. Framing Effect: In order to frame your offer in a way that is attractive to your audience, do your homework and see who is in your audience and present the information or offer as irrefutable to all rationality and appeal to emotion. 
  2. Create Urgency: Be careful that you are creating the correct urgency and not misleading clients with this persuasion technique. An example of this would be creating an urgency that your solution will be helping them save money or time as soon as six weeks implementation time. Creating urgency in a manipulative way would be to say that an offer will expire or something that is untrue. 
  3. Getting to No by Chris Voss is one of our go-to recommended reading for our training. The point of it for the purposes of persuasion vs manipulation is getting to no is the goal of a conversation because you are getting honesty from your audience. Your audience is going to agree with you or try to avoid saying no, until you have earned their trust. If they tell you NO, you are on the right track to being able to persuade them because they are honestly telling their objections. We have a great blog on this here. 
  4. Present All Information and Encourage Problem Solving: There are certain techniques, we used one on our website here, that land points in cognition. We wanted our audience to be impressed by pizza so we have it strategically with a video and on our home page to be memorable. We also have text explaining but the question is in their mind and the audience is looking for the answer. If you would like to see how some of these operate in demos, let’s chat

Are you interested in learning more persuasive techniques? Let’s talk about 1:1 Coaching, Coursework, and Packages

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