Key selling lessons to draw from people who promise beyond ability

“If only con men were ethical in their selling, they would be runaway successes”

It caught the attention of the Head of State and is still trending. The exposee` of self proclaimed Dr. Prophet Victor Kanyari as a charlatan. In the midst of all the condemnation, pause to reflect- what makes charlatans so successful in their selling and what can we learn from them?

The first lesson is that you help clients by identifying problems-not merely solving problems. Victor Kanyari identified personal pain in his target market and then presented himself as a “solution”complete with “evidence”-that payment followed is not a surprise.

Problem solving is selling a drill because the client wants it. Yet clients don’t want drills, they want holes. Identifying this as the problem may lead you to sell nails and a hammer instead of a drill. Or, further identifying why the holes are required may lead you to sell a suction pad or clip-on instead, assuming the client didn’t know there were other, non intrusive ways of hanging a picture on the wall which was his real reason for asking for the drill. Problem solving leads to selling a product; problem identification leads the seller to know the product to sell.

His (fake) testimonials reinforced his “solution” and is the second learning point. Word of mouth is a powerful way to communicate the efficacy of one’s product or service. Testimonials may be oral, written or digital. Word of mouth also has a downside; in the same way it spreads good news fast, it does so bad news-only faster. The same media that grew Kanyari is the same one that exposed him. Which should only be a problem for the swindler like Kanyari or such unethical sellers who promise warranty to increase sales only to rescind on it when a genuine claim arises ; sellers out to give a service rebound easily from bad news with an apology and correction. Like my barber who scraped my scalp much rougher than intended and having apologised, gave me the next cut for free.

A third thing that the unfortunate Kanyari episode teaches us is that nothing succeeds without passion. The crocodile tears, the staged fainting and the theatrical screaming brought out what truly carries any sale-passion. Passion sells; passion yields an emotional connection that generates followers. A salesperson, who lacks passion in his product will struggle to sell it. Passion need not be as dramatic as evidenced by Kanyari and his band of merry men. Passion shows when the seller gives full attention to the buyer; passion manifests itself when the seller is excited about the product; passion is evident when the seller is keen on problem identification-not merely problem solving.

Another lesson we learn from the impostor, is the importance of preparation before presentation. His “testimonials”were coached to perfection. If practice makes perfect then be careful what you practice; bad sales habits are also practiced- only unconsciously. Lack of practice shows in any presentation and at such times, even passion and conviction struggle to come through and a sale is lost.

Finally, if only charlatans were ethical in their selling, they would be runaway successes. Be ethical in your selling for long term sustainable income and reputation. To quote Bob Marley: “You can fool some people some times, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”


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