Talkin’ ‘bout You And Me…And The Games People Play

games people play

The Game

My six-year-old learned to flirt. He is lifting his eyebrows, blinking, staring like Puss (the one with the Boots). To keep it short – he tries to manipulate me. And more often than not, he wins.

We, as buyers, get quite a bit of training on how to be successful in what we do. And guess what – sellers get probably at least five times that. Have you ever wondered, what kind of training that is? What kind of skill set are they using in their work? Do you think THEY are NOT using the tricks against YOU? No? Then read on – maybe you will find some interesting clues…


The Tricks And How To Deal With Them


Focus on making a difference. They are taught to make their products “special” and “better”: “different” from everything else. And that, of course, comes for a price premium. In this situation, you can ask few questions:

  • Do you really need that speciality? Did you need it from the very beginning? Would other suppliers be able to suggest it?
  • Is it really different? Can they give measurable specifications of the difference?

Get your clients to say no. Correct. You might recognize yourself in a situation where you keep on repeating “no’s” and even start even feeling guilty and awkward about it. Therefore, when the next option comes and is somewhat decent, you say “yes”. That does not happen without reason. Break the circle early enough. Play the same card on them – offer options, where all of them are not what supplier wants to hear.

Create an account entry campaign. Sellers are determined. They are told, that it takes 7-10 contacts to crack into a corporate account these days. Many sellers, however, give up after 3-5 attempts. Help them and yourself – publish on your website what is the situation with your contracts: are you (or not) in any searches; maybe – you have just finished signing all the contracts for the rest of five years. And maybe – you are still interested in a list of innovations or “painful” subjects? Make it clear from the start.

Killer questions. The better sellers are taught to open the meeting by asking questions, rather than rushing straight into a sales pitch. What they want to hear is – how do you feel about working with your current supplier? Best sellers will make the buyer convince herself (himself) that it is time for change and, furthermore, the best change option is sitting right in front. Watch how open you become. Sometimes, if the time and the situation is right, and the initiative comes from the buyer – openness can be a good way to go.

Offer fewer choices. Very similar to the previous one. Very often used by retail stores. It is scientifically proven (remember?), that human brain perceives everything relatively. Therefore, if you only have only Small and Large popcorns, people more often will choose small portion. However, if you have Small, Medium and Large and the price gap between Medium and Large is relatively smaller than between Small and Medium, people will switch to buying Large, skipping the Medium at all. Most famous quote in this category is Henry Ford and his phrase “you can have any colour as long as it is black”, when he was talking about his T model. My way of coping these situations – measure, measure and measure again; buy only what you really need. Or quit the game, if you feel like being played.

Playing good cop bad cop and all of the other similar strategies. Whenever you recognize a situation, where decision making person “is not available”, where the person in front of you is willing to give you the discount (or would accept any other offer from you), but “that guy” will never allow it – just challenge it. To avoid similar games, I like to inform my partners in advance what kind of questions need to be addressed during the meeting or even before it. So that all required information is there, so that people concerned could be present or would have had the chance to speak – should they wish to do so, so that there would be no chances for surprises or further delays of addressing the question. If the situation happens anyway – be sure that I score them very low on my attitude evaluation scorecard (

Make it win-win and Make them think you’re a martyr. They are trained to detect “pain spots”. When they can’t do that – they have skills to “create” one. And then, of course, sell their product as a solution to “your problem”.  Also, they are trained, that their buyer needs to feel they’re getting fantastic deal. Now and again I meet suppliers, who really play “the sacrifice” game: by pitching their price higher than you expect to pay, and gradually allow you to bargain down – but they only give ground when you do. “Well, I wouldn’t normally, but…” Sounds familiar?  They might ask you if you’d want their product if price wasn’t an issue. The moment you say “yes”, they consider you “sorted”. The rest is only a matter of finding the least painful price you are willing to pay.

It has become easier to expect the deals to be fairer nowadays, no matter how tough the sales negotiator and how soft buyer’s negotiator is. Now, when communications are so easy and wide spread, it takes few seconds to create a lot of problems to any business. Feedback, referrals, reputation is something that has a real value to it. A very strong sales person might convince you to buy something you don’t really need once. Will you return again? Most likely not. How hard will it be for you to share thought online? Not hard at all…

Under promise and over deliver. Knowingly. Yup – another name to it is “managing expectations”. Yes, they sometimes may know that the delivery will be available on or just before your preferred time. Yes, they might say they will need one or two additional days and then eventually make it exactly when you wanted it! Ta-dah! Ok, it is not always done deliberately. Oh, it already happened three times in a row? Well, that should get you thinking.

Use NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). “I agree you’re thinking like that.” You can find a lot of that on YouTube and everywhere else. Interestingly enough, when I tried to google “NLP for buyers” (and all similar versions), I found nothing decent. When at the same time, sellers are using the whole army of tools:

  • awareness of body language (their own and yours);
  • awareness of intonation (their own and yours);
  • use of time-related grammar;
  • modal verbs / modal operators (would, should, could, etc.) and how they affect your thinking;
  • embedded commands;
  • embedded questions;
  • rapport building;
  • pacing and leading;
  • awareness of emotional state and how to keep hold of that state…

Watch their feet. They are taught to observe your body language. A lot. They know what you are thinking, before you even start talking. Your crossed arms, your eyes, face, shoulders, and legs – everything gives them the clues. Can buyers use the same weapons? Sure! I ask questions while the other part is giving their pitch. They might know their story by heart, they might have even practised it many times in front of the mirror, but they will really be more vulnerable and will show their real reaction and emotions, when they are talking about unexpected things. Are they looking right or left? If they are looking right (your left) – they are more likely to be lying. Left – higher chances of telling the truth (reverse is for left-handed people).

Magic Words, NLP. People associate words with emotions. Words such as easily, naturally, unlimited, aware, realize, beyond, before, after, now, new, because, freely, expand, how to, discover, scientifically proven, research, powerful and amazing can be used in almost any scenario. Word “because”, according to other NLP source, is the one that makes people buy. “BECAUSE this freely solves your challenge in a scientifically proven way”. Who wouldn’t want that??? Want to induce positive emotions? Use: believe, change, energize, healthy, overcome, thrive, success, refresh and happy. Want to make someone interested? Use: finally, revealed, truth, imagine, expose, secret, uncover and illegal. Would like to make someone to take actions? Try these: urgent, easy, simple, limited time and tested. If you catch someone using proven, guaranteed and leading too many times in one paragraph – they want you to gain trust, according to NLP HypnoCopy. Do you still remember one of the first words of this article that caught Your attention?

Attitude. Understand that you don’t have to make everyone happy. 80/20 is valid every time, everywhere. In sales too. 80 percent of their commission comes from 20 percent of their clients. It is only natural, that 80 percent of their customers are getting less attention. So, next time, when you realise, that you are simply not their priority – good luck with getting first class service…free of charge.


Thank you for reading! I believe, you found interesting and revealing thoughts. Should you have any comments – simply type few words below!


Talkin’ ‘bout You And Me…And The Games People Play

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