Selling: Men, Women, Emotions, Logic and Persuasion or is that Manipulation?

I admit upfront that this contains a bit of a rant but stick with it and you’ll see where we’re headed… 😉


I went to a women’s event in London, primarily in my role as an Ambassador for Birds on the Blog. What fascinated me and what I thoroughly enjoyed was both hearing from very successful speakers – and the trials and tribulations they’d been through along the way – and still faced to some degree, and speaking with them and other attending businesswomen, starting to make new friends.

The only duff part of the entire day, in my opinion, was the one bit, one of the master classes, that was run by a bloke. He used to run comedy workshops then went into the corporate arena running workshops on stand up presentation skills for employees. I really don’t think he was used to presenting to audiences that included women who are responsible for running companies that turn over £several million a year! The content was basic, not new, and fairly lightweight and I wasn’t the only one in that class who felt we’d been patronised and that the presenter had totally misjudged his offering for us. :-(


I found an email with a link to a download from a website that promised:

FREE BOOK: How Influence Masters Get Exactly What They Want In Business, Relationships And Life And How You Can Too, Guaranteed

Written, allegedly, by a Million-Dollar Copywriter And Influence Master whose name I’d only come across in my email box to date. Well, I thought I’d see what this guy had to offer – pourquoi non? as our French amis would say, and here’s my take on it for you 😉

The book in a nutshell

It’s 47 pages mostly of waffle, psychobabble, and manipulation à la snake oil salesman. Some of what he advocates should have gone out with the ark and I honestly wonder whether he’s tried it on a 21st century prospect… he kind of gives this away when he says that he’s been a salesman most of his life and that “most of the selling that I did was in the fitness industry”. That emboldment of the ‘did‘ is mine.

However, hidden in amongst all this are a few nuggets and bloopers that, if you haven’t considered in any great depth before might be worth your while pondering on – knowing which are potentially good news for you and which to stay well clear of.

I’ve only highlighted a few here. You can phone me [+ 44 (0) 20 7209 1284 or + 44 (0) 7879 28 367] or email me [desk (at) smallbusinesstraining (dot) co (dot) uk] for the link to get your own copy of the .pdf

“Emotion v. Logic”

Cutting through all the verbiage, what he’s basically saying here is that buying decisions are driven by emotion reinforced with logic. This is absolutely true and any sales person worth his or her salt knows it – there’s nothing new here. What’s a little more interesting is that a lot of this is going on subconsciously. The examples chummy gives are about as subtle as a brick and I won’t insult your intelligence by repeating them here but, in essence it’s a valid point and, no matter how logical your buyer-of-the-moment might like to think s/he is, this is still going on under the surface (a bit like an iceberg).

“Third Party Evidence is a must”

‘A must’ is a bit heavy handed and not so easy to apply if you’re just starting out but it’s certainly very powerful. Referring to experts and quoting statistics will work reasonably well until you can include your own satisfied clients/ customers, anything that basically says “Look, don’t just take my word for it…” and helps the potential buyer to feel comfortable, that s/he’s in good company are all good. BTW: If someone says they’ll give you a testimonial/ reference but “You write it” – Don’t! Even if you have to wait for it, it’ll be worth it – your wording won’t sound like them to anyone who knows them and you’ll never dream of some of the lovely things they’ll say about you!

“Obligation/ Reciprocity”

Our man lists this little gem under “Triggers of Mind Control” and quotes Dr Robert Cialdini’s research into what makes people think and act in certain ways to justify his use of it in selling: Give the potential client something for nothing then they’ll feel they have to buy.

I’m not kidding. This is really what he says. I call it unethical garbage that deserves to blow up in the face of whoever’s dumb enough to use it. Or maybe I’m not being clear enough…

So let’s salvage this one: A freebie as a goodwill gesture plain and simple is fine. As an example of your expertise for your potential buyer to try, why not? Just as long as you don’t employ it to create a feeling of obligation. Give me strength!

“Scarcity: The less available something becomes the more people want it”

This one can be a bit of a double edged sword. For a start, ‘the more people want it’ is only going to be true if it (whatever ‘it’ is) was desirable in the first place. Secondly, I honestly believe that buyers are far more sophisticated nowadays and a far more aware of potentially created ‘scarcity’:

“In all my years of being in the Internet marketing business and writing sales copy, the scarcity trigger is one of the most important tools that I have used to get the customer to take action.”

Oh boy, I guess that shows our author in his true colours… :-(

What’s the link between yesterday’s event and today’s email?

To me it’s that the kind of in-your-face thinking/ approach that these two guys demonstrated is passé and no longer works.

I’m not saying that all males are like that or that all male thinking needs to be thrown out of the window, just that now might be a good time for all of, women and men, to incorporate more of our feminine side in out business activities.
What are your thoughts?

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11 Responses to “Selling: Men, Women, Emotions, Logic and Persuasion or is that Manipulation?”

  1. Hi Christine
    A case of knowing your audience and why they (and you) are there?: Bit avant garde to me, my girl! 😉

  2. Perhaps it depends on context. And preparation/priming of the speakers by the organizers – content appropriate to the level of the audience, regardless of their gender.

    Ironically, the difference in women’s brains, which is predominantly the greater size of the corpus callosum, (on average 23% larger in women than men) which is the bit that connects the left and right hemispheres, enables us women to make more connections and process information between the left/logic and language and right/emotion and creative sides of the brain. This apparently gives rise to the feminine ability to manage more tasks, and acknowledge feelings, and to men having a more logical and single-focused approach. (Though there is currently controversy in neuroscience over all this, as MRI scans of the brain have shown activity taking place throughout the brain when different tasks are performed).

    Last time I saw Edward de Bono, he of ‘Lateral Thinking’ and ‘Thinking Hats’ fame, present at Leaders in London, in 2009 I think, (a reputedly truly world class thinker at a very upscale event consisting mainly of CEOs and senior execs) he was still using his intro of ‘Lords, ladies, gentlemen and blondes…’ . And he told a number of blonde jokes. He seemed anachronistic but was tolerated for his ‘wise elder’ status.
    However, the rest of the presenters made no distinction in the gender of the audience.

    These days when faced with the overt marketing garbage I switch off and somehow seem to be induced only into yawning and moving on. I’m probably jaded after many years of having so much material coming in for the magazine, and have honed my radar for the hype and hackneyed, the blatant self-promotion and the meaningless drivel.

  3. LOL… nice to read an honest review of one of those books. Honestly, I think many ebook authors spend much more time on the LONG web page ads than the content of the book. I’ve never downloaded one…. seems like a huge leap of faith since you can’t see inside it!

  4. I agree with Yolanda that those techniques still make sense and still work. Of course I’m tempted to pull the PayPal trigger when I like a product and learn that it will be available at the discount price only till tomorrow (scarcity). And I’m impressed when a marketer seems to have demonstrated that her product delivers results for many people (third-party evidence). And so on.

    But I also believe that the modern emphasis on cultivating relationships with customers is crucial—and maybe even more important if we’re providing services to women. It sounds as though the presenter you heard didn’t even address the “know, like, and trust” phenomenon, and that was a pretty big oversight.

  5. Hi Simon
    Good to see you here and I agree wholeheartedly with your contribution :-)
    If you’d witnessed that presentation I can almost guarantee you’d have been cringeing with the best of us.

    I get how these people can get in early and make a name for themselves. What I DON’T get is how they perpetuate an apparently excellent reputation on second class performances – when there are so many who are now streets ahead of them :-(

  6. Sarah Arrow says:

    Wind you up Linda? Moi?
    PS tell Phil to sort these comments out or I will install Livefyre when you are not looking 😉
    PPS he did a great job for me last week btw, I still need to send him some details…

  7. Thanks Sarah!

    I have to say though, that my experience is a bit more depressing: it’s not that male presenters patronise women; it’s that such presenters patronise everyone! :( Obviously I wasn’t there so I can’t say – I’m just speaking generally here…

    Essentially, it boils down to how much the presenter knows his (or her!) audience and how well he judges them: I’m risking over-stating things here but my hunch is that anyone who’s an experienced and skilled enough presenter to change his (or her!) presentation depending on the audience is also sufficiently good/experienced *not* to patronise that audience.

    Patronising presenters will just patronise anyone! :)

  8. Yolanda – I think the choice if male was unfortunate and I doubt that he’d critiqued or updated his performance for some time. I’ve seen very good male presenters and I’m sure a different guy could have done a superb job.

  9. I haven’t heard Simon present. Warren’s good value but I think, Sarah, that you’re deliberately winding me up with Ben :-(

  10. Yolanda says:

    I think those marketing/copy tactics still work the problem is how they are used. There are degrees. Over the top is always going to be over the top. And women’s brains are different than men’s brains.

  11. Sarah Arrow says:

    I have found (in my experience of) men presenting and mostly female events that they are “dumbed” down for us as clearly we don’t understand even the basics…
    It can be hard to reach all the women in the room but a presentation that offers little or no value isn’t one worth wasting time on in my book. let’s hope that next year they can find a bloke that actually likes the women he is presenting too, may I suggest they book Dr Simon Raybould / Warren Cass / Ben Kench to present to them, they might find it a little more enjoyable.

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