Two-Way Mirrors and the Illusion of Control

April 14, 2011 at 8:26 AM Leave a comment

Lead generation programs always focus on tracking behavior. The idea is, the better we know how customers behave, the more we can sell to them.

This attitude reminds me of my many years in market research, during which I would observe focus groups through a two-way mirror. It was a weird feeling, spying on people. The idea was to find out what people did when they didn’t know they were being observed, so we could understand how to manipulate them into buying products.

A lot of contemporary lead generation is an attempt to virtualize the 2 way mirror – watch online behavior and find the patterns so we can manipulate people into buying stuff. The idea is to sneak into the sales conversation before customers know what hit them.

The two-way mirror operates on two premises:

  1. That you can observe people well enough to manipulate them
  2. That if you can do the above, you should

The problem is that neither premise is true.

Customers are not things to be manipulated – they’re your livelihood for life. You want to be in an honest relationship with them, one in which they’re your partners in success, rather than lab mice.

When you’re manipulating people, you’re not engaging them. The way to build customer loyalty is to engage them by adding value every step of the way, establish yourself as a trusted advisor. Then you ask them if they’re ready to think about buying.

It’s hard to move from a manipulative mindset to a partner mindset. But it’s essential, because people are smarter than you think. How often are you manipulated into buying something? When it does happen, how loyal do you feel?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Products vs. Ecosystems Permission-based Selling

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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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