The Trump University Sales Playbook

While Donald Trump is running for president he’s also defending Trump University in court.

I am no fan of Trump. I think he’s a good salesperson, I also think he has a hard time with the truth, and isn’t a president.

Thanks to the judge overseeing the Trump University case, we can all dive into what went on behind the scenes and read the Trump University Sales Playbook.

They developed elaborate systems to make each sale. It’s very impressive.

It walks you through each step of their sales process and their rebuttals for objections.

I thought I’d share their list of sales wisdom:

  • You won’t sell anything until you get rapport with the other person. Rapport is a state of emotional bonding, where they are aligned with you and vice versa. When you move, if you are in rapport, they will move too.
  • Customers don’t have needs–they have problems.
  • A lot of sales training and books tell you about the importance of selling to customer needs. Although this is basically true, customers don’t sit down and think, “I’ve got a need.” Instead, they experience problems and seek solutions to them.
  • The customer has to perceive the problem, of course. You may perceive the problem, but if the customer doesn’t, then there’s no way they can bite the solution line.
  • So the sales job is about finding, eliciting and solving these problems. Where understanding of needs does come in useful here is that problems appear when needs are not met. But when you talk to customers, it usually works best if the subject is problems.
  • Urgency is proportional to pain. Problems are like health. The more a problem hurts now, the more the need for a solution now. And the more it hurts, the more they’ll be prepared to pay for a speedy solution. It’s got to hurt enough!
  • The operation of resolving the pain is itself a painful process, so if the pain is below this threshold, the patient will prefer to continue to suffer than accept any treatment.
  • Research has shown that most people will seek a solution when they have three problems. About a quarter seek solutions earlier, and another quarter seek solutions later.
  • You don’t sell products, benefits or solutions–you sell feelings.
  • Sales used to be about selling products. But a sole focus on products leads to objections, so sales moved to selling benefits. Better again, the focus turned to understanding the underlying problem to be solved, but this is still not the whole story.
  • When we make any decision, including the ‘buy’ decision, we do so by an emotional process. It may not seem that way, and there may be much logical processing, but the point of decision is always emotional, and usually subconscious.
  • A lot of sales people are so paranoid about the customer saying no that they keep on selling long past the close-by date. They may even talk the customer into buying and then talk them out again. The trick is to swallow your fear and ask. When the time comes, ask for the sale. Ask “Are you ready to buy now?”

If you looked at any corporate sales training manual these would be listed in there. They’re classic tips.

I’m sure many people believed in what they were selling (however the harshest critics in court have been the employees). People can make money investing in real estate.

But when you look into the guts of the document you’ll see how the goal was to get anyone, even those who clearly could not afford it, into their $35,000 program. It was to exploit the customer’s weakness and encourage them to put it on their credit cards.

The sales wisdom is solid advice. The tools work.

The application isn’t good. It wasn’t about helping.

Follow what they do and systematize your process.

And, most importantly, sell something beneficial.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some links may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products I think are valueable to you. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."