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In the marketplace you do your best to promote your business, know your competition and provide the best product or services available. If you neglect any of these elements you are on your way to new ventures through your failed attempts and mis-directed aims. I am amused by creative marketing and always trying to find new ways to reach the target audience. Within the “research” I find that abuses exist in truthful advertising or promises of services all the time.  One such advertisement with impressive aesthetic appeal came across my inbox with an equally attractive subject heading “No Fees, 100% Commission & Bonuses”.

Contemplative of my own fee structure and how I appear to other agents in the real estate marketplace I was wooed to know how they can offer such amazing perks and fee structure. One reality laden concept fills the spaces in my mind as I ponder how in the heck they can they do this….it takes money to operate a business and how can they survive if they don’t make money on their agents. How does it work? (right there is the exact question they wanted me to ask) 

I click the link on the email to their above average homepage.

Sure enough a great landing page has been created that builds their credibility and makes a very strong argument for their dominance in the local market. But it does not answer the question I needed the resolution of. A few more clicks within the well designed site and you find that the fee structure is not in fact as stated in its entirety. Specifically: No fees applies to those who choose to split their commissions on a typical percentage….option 1. 100% Commission applies to those who pay monthly fees…option 2. , then there is a variation of these options that have different advantages or disadvantages based on your production rate.  There are also asterisks next to each plan with limitations to each option that leaves you pondering what will happen if I exceed those limitations. The “Bonuses” falls into place with the rest of the fee structure since the brokerage shares in the profits as you continue to produce more. That makes sense.

So my issues are not with the fee structure or even the asterisks, my issue is that this deceptive advertising is what got us in this housing situation and has created a marketplace fraught with unethical practices. Ok I do have an issue with asterisks, they are fine print that no one cares to read until it’s too late. You become emotionally vested into these ad campaigns as a consumer and when the promoter has you hooked there is more at stake saying no then there is saying yes. The proprietor of these ads would claim the statement is not deceptive but accurate when each part of the statement is evaluated on its own definition with variables and conditions as qualified by the website’s explanation. 3 options, 3 key words that happen to fall in the same sentence. Without the conjunction “or” that reads like deception to me.

Basic Sales 101. Get the consumer to answer questions that result in yes. Do you want to make more money? Do you want to be in control of your own destiny? Do these questions sound familiar? With this technique “….you glide ever so smoothly over people’s natural predispositions that it’s practically effortless for you to generate sales. This spells the greatest difference between the ethical form of mind control used in marketing, versus its evil stepbrother – the kind involving covert behavior modification techniques.”  as described by Joe Sugarman’s “Mind Control” sales techniques. I missed the jump in this explanation that distinguished “gliding so smoothly over people’s natural predispositions” and “covert behavior modification techniques”. Isn’t strategically crafting a statement or a series of questions in order to achieve an intended outcome a form of manipulation or “covert behavior modification technique”? Joe Sugarman has to be making a mint trying to help people justify this distinction with the use of these same covert techniques. Is it just me or is this argument a perfect representation of the explanation he provides. Why not just be honest? The irony here is that the natural disposition is to determine what is harmful and what is safe. So he is tricking us to believe that tricking others is not harmful but a great way to smoothly overcome that obstacle to sell them something against what their natural disposition tells them they should be weary of. Manipulation anyone? 

Mind altering tricks (not techniques) are not new to the sales profession nor has Joe Sugarman created original ideas. This site just happened to appear first in my search of “the psychology of sales” and he pays the most to Google for that privilege. I learned the same concepts stated different ways in entry-level sales classes and in a college course entitled “persuasion and propaganda” many years ago. I didn’t think it ethical then and I still don’t today.

I know I am old-fashioned and will lose plenty of the market share because of it. But hey, I’m writing a blog so I’m not that old-fashioned and I would rather have clients and co-workers that trust who I am and what I do rather than gather business based on false pretenses. Manipulation of any kind is not a good practice in business. Why not advertise and sell based on the merit of the services offered or the quality of the product being sold? Rhetorical Question Answer: Because that does not leave room for those who do not provide quality services or quality products.

As a consumer, remember:

There is no such thing as a free lunch and if it is too good to be true, it probably is.

You may never use my services or join my belief in business practices, but I hope you share in my perspective that we would be in a much better place today if sales professionals held the same level of ethical  boundaries and behaviors. There are solicitors of business services that stand by their words and offer honesty as a virtue woven into our practices. If applicable, give us the opportunity to show you how. Otherwise, thanks for reading.