It's not magic. It's real life mind hacking that you never knew existed.
1. They give you free coffee
Almost every single car dealership on Earth has the same setup: Coffee served out of Styrofoam. The more upclass ones would have a Nespresso machine with their little tray of capsule soldiers and a tower of pristine expresso cups. You take it, because it's free coffee and you're a kiasu Singaporean. Instinctively, you want to pre-emptively bleed them for every free thing you can get before they go to town on your wallet -- as you know they invariably will.
It's actually the coffee's fault. Well, some of it at least: Consumption of caffeine makes people much easier to persuade in general. In a double-blind study, participants who took caffeine pills were far more easily convinced about the benefits of euthanasia than those who had taken placebos. Apparently, this is possible because most people don't actually listen to everything anybody else is saying. The addition of caffeine gives them that little mental boost to be more attentive and therefore more persuadable. So in a way, all those counterculture hippies were right: Starbucks is turning us all into "easily pliable sheep, man."
Whether it's Phua Chu Kang impressing some Malaysian businessmen or just a Singaporean used-car salesman telling you, "This is a damn zai (read: fine) car! Hey, I wouldn't bulls**t a bulls**tter! Am I right?" cursing has its place in the business world. You're damn right it does.
You'd think that most people, if polled, would probably say that salespeople should avoid using any sort of profanity around customers. A lot of people are uncomfortable with swear words, and even those who aren't could easily find it unprofessional. It turns out, though, that's totally eff-ing inaccurate. By adding the phrase "dammit" to the beginning or end of a statement, researchers found that people are more inclined to agree with the speaker's opinion when the curse is used. This may be because cursing implies more passion about the subject at hand.
But it may be precisely because you don't expect the salesperson to curse in front of you that it's so effective. So when they use profanity in a positive manner (i.e., they aren't telling you to "eff off to next door" but are just using it to emphasize how great something is), you pay more attention to the whole argument and are more likely to think the opinion expressed was genuine. While it might seem unprofessional, a salesman using a small curse ("This is a bloody good car") is more likely to make a sale, since you probably think he's being honest about his feelings instead of just trying to trick you into the more expensive brand.
3. Talking fast
While radio ads and infomercials may seem ridiculous with their fast-talking hosts, they really do convince people to shell out their hard-earned money for a $99 pot-that-is-also-a-strainer. We've got the three Happycall pans, six airfryers and an industrial-sized crate of crispy salted egg fish skins to prove it.
Even though the slimy fast-talking salesperson is a pop culture stereotype, salespeople who speak faster are still perceived to be more intelligent and certain of what they are saying, and therefore have more trusted opinions than salespeople who speak at a "normal" conversational speed.
There is an upper limit, though; the fastest "normal" rate of speech is about 194 words a minute. If you get much higher than that you start sounding like a speed freak instead of just someone who really knows what he's talking about. So be wary if a salesperson starts upping the tempo a bit right as you try to walk away -- it doesn't mean he suddenly stopped being a douche who's trying to force something you don't need on you; it just means he may have also read this article.
4. The Foot-in-the-Door technique
You're casually walking along with your family, ohhing and ahhing at the shiny displayed cars when one of those uppity salespeople accosts you.
"Oh hello sir! Wah your children very cute ah? You must sayang (love) them a lot right?"
"Yeah of course I sayang them. They are the fruits of my loins."
"Wah, then Sir, you must come see this car that has the brand new child safety technology, confirm can keep your kids safe!"
Okay, you just said you sayang your kids, so it would be kind of a dick move to back out now. You take a cursory look at the car and start to walk away, then he asks if you want a brochure. You take the brochure because, well, you did just look at the vehicle. You'll just throw it away later. Then he asks if you'd like to be on the mailing list - kid safety is an ongoing concern, you see. A whole bunch of excuses are on the tip of your tongue, but what's an email address anyway, right? You don't want to look like someone who cares about children enough to glance at a car but not enough to want to know more.
Called the "Foot-in-the-Door" technique, this strategy is the key to upselling: It works because most people have a really hard time saying no in the first place and have an even harder time if they've already said yes to something. Salespeople exploit it by getting you to say yes to something trivial before hitting you with a much bigger request.
The most famous example was a phone survey of women regarding the cleaning products they used. The women who took the survey were called again a week later with an absurdly invasive and inconvenient request: Would they allow men to come look through their kitchen cupboards for two hours to see for themselves what kind of products they use? The women who participated in the phone survey were two times as likely to let strange men poke around their houses, compared with women who were just asked the second part with no primer. You see this every day: It's why you end up with a warranty you don't want or a supersized meal you don't need. You've already said yes to buying one thing, and it's only a little more money for the upgrade, and really, when you think about it, a warranty for a taco isn't all that unreasonable: What if you drop it in the parking lot? Your hand is practically forced here!
5. Figuring out your type, and using it against you
If you sit down at Automobile Megamart and watch one of the car salespeople for the day, two things will happen: One, you'll see him become a dozen different people over the course of his shift, altering his language, posture and approach for every customer in order to close the sale. And two, you'll probably be arrested for stalking. The latter is a matter for the courts to decide, but the former is a tried-and-true sales technique called the Chosen Representation System.
People are different: Right-brained vs. left-brained, creative vs. logical, touchy-feely vs. withdrawn, boisterous vs. shy. And not surprisingly, all these different types of people want different things when they're making purchases. The things that are important to you when buying a product (color, texture, sound clarity, etc.) are called your Chosen Representational System. The best salespeople recognize your CRS very quickly and adjust their selling style accordingly. If you're kind of a big loud guy with the beer gut and a Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok t-shirt complete with the gold jewellery, they can guess that a taokay(boss) brand car is probably most important to you, and they're going to whip out the B's and the M's. If you're a well-dressed female, they assume you'll be more swayed by aesthetics, and they'll likely show you their hassle-free, sleek drives.
That's all somewhat common sense, but there are ways they tailor their pitch to you before even asking any questions: For example, changing one word when stating an opinion goes a long way toward convincing the person you are talking to that your way of thinking is correct. In general, women are swayed by "I feel" and men more by "I think." So if you're talking to a woman, then you "feel this is the best portable smoothie maker ever made." If you're talking to a male customer, you "think this smoothie maker will damn well dominate every other one on the market."
It gets even crazier from there: Another effective tool is asking you to recall something from the past. Depending on whether you look up or down, left or right, salespeople can often infer your CRS, no matter what your subsequent answer is. That's right: Your very body language is betraying you to the salesb**tards. You cannot even trust yourself against them.
This article was adapted from Cracked.