Looking for goods books about selling

I am writing a second edition of “Social Media and Selling“. This time I want more emphasis on selling and less on social media. Will include books such as “The context marketing revolution“. Which is the last good book I have read about marketing. I have not read a good book about selling for a long time.

Persuasion games

It is also hard to find good books about selling. I decided to give “Persuasion Games: Will you persuade or be persuaded? Learn the mind games of influence and how to win them” a whack. A book that is full of persuasion tricks.


It is all about FRP or fixed response patterns, which doesn’t involve any logic or conscious thought process as such: the stimulus triggers the same response every time. How we constantly strive to find patterns so our brains do not consume too much energy. You have no choice. Your brain is bombarded by stimuli all the time, and commercialism only exacerbates the problem. If you had to stop and think about every single message, every little piece of data, then your brain would be unable to cope. From a survival point of view, it is more important to see a few patterns that are not there than to miss the one that is. Is that a tiger in the bush, or just a breeze? However, a lot of those survival techniques do no longer suits us. 


That is why we invented heuristics. When you want to get somewhere quickly, it helps if you know a little mental shortcut. Where you accept the inevitable trade-off: faster-processing speed and the ability to handle all the incoming data, at the expense of errors and reduced reliability. There is an ongoing battle for your mind and becoming part of the heuristics. A brand is a heuristic. Branding is the shortcut to capture your attention. There is an ongoing battle between advertisers who want to win your attention and your preference not to have your time and attention wasted—it is as old as the hills and shows no sign of coming to an end. It’s only going to get worse.


Heuristics are good and bad. Heuristics give rise to stereotyped thinking. It stops you from thinking. It makes you manipulatable. It feeds your biases. And you have created all feedback mechanisms that create and sustain these biases. It makes you a robot. Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do. You really should spend some time on analysing how you think. Self-awareness is the only strategy against manipulation and persuasion.


Which bring you to Kahneman’s system thinking. System 1 is automatic, whereas System 2 involves at least a modest amount of effort (although you only use a small percentage of your total capacity). The fun of 1 System 1 thinking is remarkable and can even save your life in the face of sudden threats or danger.


In persuasion (and selling), you want to switch off system 1 or overload system 2. Persuaders can exploit both cognitive distraction and cognitive overload to do that. Using emotional cues and avoiding analytical questions. Misdirecting thinking. Putting thoughts in. Giving the brain the dots, and let the brain do the rest by finding (or creating) meaning and patterns. Even when they aren’t there. The brain will always fill in the blanks. Making it open to suggestions all the time. Hence the placebo effect. Your body has a tremendous ability to heal, cure and repair itself once it believes.


Lots of interesting things you should be aware of:

  • When you invest a great deal in a particular belief, you attach more value to it and therefore become very protective of it.
  • People tend to accept an idea as a whole in a rather uncritical way rather than applying any detailed analysis.
  • People are more likely to believe a particular idea when it’s easy to think of relevant supporting examples, for example, from recent news bulletins and stories shared online (even if those examples are factually incorrect or misleading).
  • When people with strong beliefs are presented with ambiguous information relevant to their views, they struggle to see the ambiguity. They see what they want to see, or (more precisely) whatever provides the strongest support for their pre-existing belief. In other words, when you are in System 1 mode, you are interested in whether the new data is consistent with or can be made to be consistent with what you already know.
  • You only have to convince someone once to convince them forever. It is called narrative fallacy. Hence the power of storytelling. It is easier to believe a story.
  • One very well known flaw of intuition is confirmation bias.
  • No matter what your field of expertise, as you build up your experience, you start to develop your gift of ‘sixth sense’ intuition. Intuition may be a type of shortcut, but there are no shortcuts to acquiring it.
  • Substitution heuristics occur when your brain is faced with a complex or challenging question and substitutes an easier one.
  • The availability heuristic bases judgements on whichever data most readily comes to mind—not the data that might lead to the best, wisest or more accurate answer.
  • Anchoring is a distortion of your ability to estimate values. It works by simply supplying numbers and values that influence your estimation, even though you don’t realise it.
  • Use the power of priming to help you persuade successfully. In essence: tell people what’s going to happen, and that’s what they’ll expect!
  • Use anchoring so that people perceive numbers, values, prices and other figures the way you want them to.
  • Use framing and sequencing to shape how people see your ideas or points, always remembering that good framing can even turn a failure into a qualified success.
  • Structure your pitch around situation, problem, implication and need/payoff questions (SPIN selling)
  • Try to build ‘yes sets’, getting your agreement on a series of small details, so it’s easier to get your agreement on larger ones (such as buying the car).
  • Research suggests that if you are in a good mood, you are more inclined to rely on System 1 thinking, which in turn suggests you are more likely to be guided by your intuition.
  • Persuasion strategies include creating a warm, welcoming and somewhat intimate environment, subtly establishing the seller credentials and ‘expertise’, adopting a relaxed tone of voice that sets the client at ease, and neutralising any fears the client may have 
  • You have a lot in common with a dog. Classical conditioning works on you, me and everyone else. If it didn’t, there would be no such thing as branding. You have learned to associate a feeling and a response with a given stimulus, in a way that is not innate (i.e. there was a time when this association had not formed within you).
  • In effect, you are constantly building a model of reality as you understand it. This cognitive model is something you carry around with you all the time. The more consistent a particular sequence or pattern seems to be, the greater your expectation will be that you can predict future events. 
  • Another very common source of erroneous judgement is cognitive ease or strain. This phenomenon gives rise to the notion of predictable illusions. One way to reinforce this phenomenon is frequent repetition. Your mental apparatus finds it hard to distinguish familiarity from the truth.
  • Your brain uses whatever cues and clues it can to build your cognitive model of the world and everything in it. We tend to suppose that if many people express the same belief, then it must have some basis in fact. However, the ‘wisdom of crowds’ is very often little more than the hopelessly misguided opinion of crowds.
  • Uncertainty and lack of clarity tend to intensify the ‘wisdom of crowds’ effect. When good information is scarce, you are even more inclined to believe whatever everyone else believes. This ‘uncertainty’ effect is intensified if there is an emergency involved,
  • An interesting refinement of social proof is the idea of social similarity. We have seen that you tend to believe something if lots of other people seem to believe it. This tendency is even stronger if you identify with the other people concerned.
  • The tendency to rely on what everyone else thinks or what everyone else is doing leads to the intriguing concept of ‘pluralistic ignorance. Read “Like war“. 
  • Ideas can contaminate one another. This is why cult leaders often isolate their members, both by living in remote places and by encouraging members to cut all ties with outsiders.
  • From a very early age, you have probably been taught and conditioned to obey a range of authority figures: parents, older siblings and family members, teachers, religious leaders, the police and even people such as newsreaders and political leaders. Advertisers frequently exploit both our acquired respect for authority and our inability to reserve this respect for appropriate contexts.
  • The clothes you wear can convey a great deal about your status or the status you think you have.
  • Titles are simultaneously the most difficult and the easiest symbols of authority to acquire.
  • In social psychology, reciprocation refers to our sense that we ought to match one positive action with another, equivalent positive action. Cultural anthropologists refer to this ‘web of indebtedness’ as ‘a uniquely human adaptive mechanism’.The essence of the reciprocation rule is that we feel obliged to repay: you give me something, I ought to give you something back. This strategy, which we can refer to as ‘give to receive’, can trigger unfair exchanges. The small initial favour or offering can lead to a sense of obligation to offer a much larger favour in return.
  • If you can get you to make a commitment to something, even in quite a minor way, you will then tend to behave in a way that is consistent with that commitment, no matter what.
  • The five keys to compliance: social proof, authority, likeability, reciprocation and commitment. Of the five strategies, social proof is perhaps the most important of all.


The book ends with the GORK approach, which is a summary of all of the above.

G: Give shortcuts

O: Offer scope and potential for meaning

R: Redefine perception and expectation

K. Get kreative

I am much more a stop selling, be authentic, be a thought leader (that means knowing what you are talking about), be helpful, be visible and be nice, type of sales guy. I learned that from Mark Soons


The book reminds me of “Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense“. Also about awareness of how you think. But much more positive. Butterfly hunting instead of selling.


The problem with these types of books is the sleaze factor. The author of this book does not mean to. He is guarding you against the techniques used, but it feels all manipulative. What happened to the noble art of selling

Looking for suggestions

I am open to some book suggestions about selling. In return, I will send you a free copy of the next edition of “Social Media and Selling“.  when it is released. My e-mail is ron@ronimmink.com.

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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