Sales people are often seen as, or described as “manipulative”. That label isn’t usually meant as a compliment, and it can easily get into your head and start to infect your confidence with the notion that your chosen career is deceitful by nature.

Your mind is the first thing that needs to be right for sales success to happen. Activity will usually impact attitude, but the key step before you even start activity is to truly believe you provide value. That is hard to do if you have garbage thoughts around “manipulation”. Your core role as a salesperson does involve changing, or manipulating the thinking of your prospects around your industry, product or service.

Manipulation might seem like a 100% negative or hostile act initially, but allow me question the veracity of that thinking.

Your parents, through punishment and reward, manipulated you to behave certain ways as a child. Being polite, kind, respectful, keeping your hands to yourself, brushing your teeth, washing, cleaning up your room, doing your homework and countless other counterintuitive behaviors you were manipulated into adopting as you grew up have served you well (and hopefully continue to serve you well, especially showering and brushing your teeth). Was it a hostile act by your parents to get you to do those things? When people pay a personal trainer to get them to work out harder and more often, in pursuit of an ultimate result, that is a form of manipulation. A chiropractor manipulates your body in order to lessen pain and improve your health.

Manipulation, like almost any other thing, is only good or bad based on the intent of the person. If you genuinely believe your product helps your customers, and are an ethical sales professional, then you “manipulate” much like a chiropractor, to alleviate pain, and increase quality of life.

The standard response to this line of thinking is to make the completely false assumption that people in pain will seek out the correct remedies all by themselves and do not need to be pushed or prodded to do things in their own self interest. That is a ridiculous assertion, contradicted by a mountain of evidence. If that were true, countless industries (personal training for one) would not exist.

Business pain is almost ubiquitous. It often does not get addressed because those suffering through it do not know about a solution that exists to address that pain.

That is where you come in. As a sales person, you need to manipulate prospects a bit to get them to put down their guard, admit to the business pain they may be having and get over the inertia of taking action so they can address that pain.

Ask any dentist and they will tell you countless stories of clients who avoided them for months or even years out of fear of action. That delay caused the fix to be more expensive and painful than if it had been addressed earlier. (If only dentists had sales people!!).

I say not only to admit you are a manipulator, but to embrace it proudly. You directly influence people to make changes that reduce their pain and make them more effective at their jobs. Yes, you get paid well to do it. You should, because it is not an easy skill to master. I consider myself a master manipulator. I am proud of that title. My intent as a professional to help my clients frees me from the negative connotation of manipulation.

Your intent should do the same for you.