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How to get salespeople to tell you the truth: the silver medal technique

Some days ago I was sitting with my date at a wine place and checking the menu.

The place had salmon, and we both loved that option.
However, it was late at night, the place was not exactly famous for salmon, and with business down because of a spike or Coronavirus, it was fair to worry that the salmon might not have been daily fresh.

So, how you get to know if the salmon is fresh?

Or, more in general, how do you get to know if an item for sale is good quality?

Well, you can ask, of course.

That's the first basic step.
And you will get an honest answer from honest people, and maybe from those who are not desperate to sell.

But you might get an half-truth, or an outright lie, from less honest people, and from those who are desperate to sell.

So here is the technique that I used (or better, that I told my date to use while I went to the bathroom):

You: Look, we are unsure between this dish (the salmon), and this other one (an item of similar price, the silver medal). So to decide, I first wanted to ask you: "how is the salmon? Is it fresh? What do you think"

See what a huge difference?

Now you provide him with a win-win situation: he has no incentive to be dishonest.

Sure, he might have preferred to still sell the salmon to get rid of it, but his incentives for lying are now much smaller. Plus, since we asked and entrusted him, and we are going to spend here, now he also feels some social pressure to be nice back, and be honest.

And since we also picked an item we liked as silver medal, it was going to be a good result for us as well.

He said the salmon was fresh, we got it, and it was indeed delicious.

medals for 1st, 2nd, 3rd position
The silver medal technique is, ideally, win-win. While people are understandably afraid of missing on N.1 and losing it all, they'll be more willing to be honest if the worst-case scenario is almost as good as N.1

General principle: eliminating incentives for lying

You cannot be sure about someone's honesty until he has incentives for lying.

So the general principle is that, whenever you can, you want to remove incentives for lying.

This specific technique consists of removing the incentives for lying by presenting a second -or third- attractive alternative for the seller that removes the incentive of lying to sell a particular item.

Ideally, you also like the second option, the silver medal, but a more Machiavellian player might also completely make up the silver medal (the "decoy technique"), and then do not follow through if his first choice turns out to be poorer.

A similar technique is to tell a seller:

You: look man, from what I'm seeing, I like you and your products so whether I buy here or not, I will come back in the future. But I expect honesty from the people I deal with, so please be honest, and you will gain a long-term customer

Here the silver medal is your long-term business, rather than the second-best option right now.

 

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Ali ScarlettDMStefnaathh12@gmail.comMaxim LevinskyRiley Thomas
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Silver medal frames

It's always a great idea to remind people of the silver medals whenever they are present.

If you're a good customer of a place:

You: "Hi, I'm a good customer, and I'm always happy to shop from you guys (the silver medal: you'll make up for what I'm about to ask), but this time...

If you often use a certain service:

You: Look, you had to cancel my flight, and I understand that things are crazy during this pandemic. I'm always flying, so I get it (implied silver medal: you can get my business back, if you're good.. ). However, since I need to rebook a new ticket now, I prefer a refund.

With a girlfriend:

You: sorry, I'm having a crazy day at work, and I need to cancel today. Yes, I know, it sucks. You were looking forward to meet, and I was looking forward to it (pacing reality, putting yourself in the same team, plus reassuing her you also care).
But I thought about how to make it up. Actually, how to make it even better (let her ask about it, which gives you more buy in and expands the positive thread, draw it about a bit more, build it up, and then present the silver medal)

Silver medals are the art of finding a win for others.
As a matter of fact, the better you get at it, the more your silver medals will become diamond medals (better than the original option).

 

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DMStefnaathh12@gmail.comMaxim Levinsky
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

thinking in terms of incentives or disincentives can be extremely productive, and I suspect many big problems in politics and social life would be solved when we design institutions that properly align the incentives/disincentives in a way conducing to the "common good".

not allways an easy task!

as a corollary, if you wanna test someone honesty creates incentives for him to lie, even let him know he will be punish for telling the truth, and let see what happens.

Lucio Buffalmano, naathh12@gmail.com and Maxim Levinsky have reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmanonaathh12@gmail.comMaxim Levinsky
Quote from Stef on August 25, 2020, 10:42 am

thinking in terms of incentives or disincentives can be extremely productive, and I suspect many big problems in politics and social life would be solved when we design institutions that properly align the incentives/disincentives in a way conducing to the "common good".

not allways an easy task!

as a corollary, if you wanna test someone honesty creates incentives for him to lie, even let him know he will be punish for telling the truth, and let see what happens.

True.

And yes, not always easy, and not always possible.

Sometimes, there is no silver medal to offer.
Yet, I have seen countless times when a silver model was there, but people failed to properly leverage it.

Quote from Stef on August 25, 2020, 10:42 am

As a corollary, if you wanna test someone honesty creates incentives for him to lie, even let him know he will be punish for telling the truth, and let see what happens.

Yes, I love this one.

When not possible, a shortcut is to tell someone you found out their lie, and assess their reaction.
The most inveterate liars will deny, lie more, or even find ways to frame you as wrong -"are you keeping track everything as a way of tripping me?"-.

I remember once to a girl I was seeing:

Me: Wait, I remember some time ago you said you had 4 previous partners. Now it's 5. Did you lie last time to make it seem like you had less?
Her: Yes

A very good sign that she admitted her lie very quickly and openly.

Stef, naathh12@gmail.com and Maxim Levinsky have reacted to this post.
Stefnaathh12@gmail.comMaxim Levinsky
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?