Convince, Confuse and Cow

I was once told by a very senior salesman that the key to selling any product is – convince, confuse and cow (in that order).

First, we try to convince our potential customers on the virtues of the product. This works on a logical level as we try to rationalise the advantages that our product has against the competition. However, this can only work if our product has useful attributes, which is rarely the case. Therefore, onto step two.

Second, we try to confuse our potential customers on the facts. This works by driving all logic out the window and disrupting the thought process of the customer. We twist things and re-orientate views in such a way as to paint our product in better light. This is what marketing tries to do all the time. When this fails, there is still step three.

Third, we try to cow our potential customers into buying. This works on an emotional level and exploits the fears of the customer in order to frighten them into buying. Threaten their lives, or their childrens’ lives often works because people become irrational when faced with these threats. The insurance industry works this way.

Our dearest Prime Minister said today: “I see the MCA sending the message that the Chinese cannot support the opposition and at the same time expect strong representation in the government. They have to choose. If they want the opposition, they must sacrifice the party in government. If they want a bigger say to serve their interests, they have to support a Barisan Nasional component party.”

So, when I read something like this, I think that our dearest PM is now desperate. He has failed to convince the people, and the people are not sufficiently confused to miss the point. Therefore, he has had to resort to scare tactics in order to threaten the local Malaysian Chinese community like this.

It smacks of desperation and the trouble with the third tactic is that, it can backfire horribly. When you threaten your customer, they either break-down and buy your product or they take out their guns and shoot you where it hurts. I do understand that threats are a legitimate tactic in politics, but this is risky.

Unlike the older generation, who are quite convinced that having representation in government is important, the younger generation are beginning to see that impotent representation is as good as no representation. Like I told a friend a while ago – every threat is also a challenge. It all depends on the point-of-view.

I hope that our PM realises this and puts a positive spin on this before things really get out of control and the local Chinese community actually take him up on his challenge – to vote the MCA out of government.

PS: I thought that the MCA had already lost the Chinese vote for ages.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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