Saturday, September 27, 2008

Honesty and Sales

Listening to the political wrangling this month and presidential debates tonight reminded me of something important I recently learned about sales. It even applies to dating (I read an article). First, let me tell you that sales is a difficult job, especially in a place like a game store with over 5,000 different items. Some games you know really well, perhaps from personal experience. You can talk about them up and down. Other games you might have seen played or read a review, and those you can describe, but in general terms. Then there are the rest of the games, hundreds of them, where for the most part you've read the description and looked at the photo and you're winging it. You grasp at the concept, fill in the blanks with some thoughtful guesses. Heck you can make things up to some extent, because here's the key: rarely will your accuracy be held against you. You create a narrative that's more or less correct to sell the experience of the game to the customer. Details are irrelevant.

The same is true with dating, a recent study discovered. All the smack the guy is saying at the bar is forgotten after the deal is closed, the digits obtained, or whatever it is the consenting adults decide upon. As long as the general experience is somewhat related to the bill of goods sold, people forget the details of the sale once the product is taken home and experienced. It's not that people are dishonest, it's just natural to apply an extra coat of lipstick to the pig, and customers intuitively grasp that and don't hold it against you. Salesmen are selling, job hunters embellish resumes, and inebriated guys in bars want to get laid. We're not talking outright lying, just gussying up and creating that best-foot-forward narrative. This is also true with politics. The sales pitch is often much more deliberate in politics, meaning there was time to craft a truthful answer but they went the easy route and intentional distorted the truth, rather than simple sales tradecraft. However, it doesn't matter. People won't much care about the truth of what was said once the race is over. In fact, if they're already sold on the product, they'll excuse an awful lot. Just look at McCain supporters.

Oh, it's always the last sentence that gets me in trouble.


  1. supports or supporters

  2. If every Obama supporter didn't sound like they were straight from Berkeley I might be inclined to agree. Reading some forums where people were watching the debate, I felt like I had watched a different debate.

    Don't get me wrong, you can stick both candidates into the same fire pit and light 'em up, I just get tired of the lame biases. I guess when you favor one over the other, words take on different meanings.

    Six of one.
    Half dozen of another.

  3. I've listened to a lot of debates on the past, and they're usually glorified press releases, with both sides using scripted answers or else the moderators out of their minds.

    What I liked about this debate was that I thought both Obama and McCain were fairly true to their positions. In past debates you could make a long list of lies and mis-characterizations, when the candidates actually said anything of substance. This time there was a lot of truth, a lot of strong, well, debate. McCain repeated some old lies, but nothing unexpected. That has been his strategy of late.

    Also, having listened to it on Internet radio and not having seen it on TV, I didn't get any of the visual cues that people mentioned. McCain's massive irritation with Obama and Obama's impatience with McCain.