No, this is not an article about dating…
However, I did intentionally use the language of dating. Because I think it works as a great metaphor for selling.
I’m sure you can remember a time when you had a romantic crush who wouldn’t give you the light of day. Maybe it was someone in school. Or in your neighborhood. Or someone you saw regularly somewhere else.
And you would have loved to spend more time with them. To date them. Perhaps, to fall in love and enjoy that “happily ever after.”
But try as you might to get their attention and interest, they simply never gave it.
And if they knew of your interest, they may have made it worse. Sure, they interacted with you in class, or wherever they saw you. They were probably even nice to you. But as nice as they might be one moment, they’d be cold and distant the moment you leaned in for anything more.
If this crush of yours was skilled at seduction, perhaps they took it one step further…
In Robert Greene’s The Art of Seduction, he explains the different seductive archetypes. And under Greene’s characterization, the Coquette is the master of playing hard-to-get.
This is someone who knows they attract attention. They know when someone is crushing on them. They know, and they do things to amplify these feelings.
But at the same time, they remain cold and aloof. They are masters at denial. At turning away. At forcing the other to chase, rather than doing the chasing themselves or even meeting as equals.
And most who chase will never catch the Coquette. Because to the Coquette, the chase is a game. And they are the game master, the one who is in control. The fun is in the pursuit. And if the pursuit were to end, so would the fun.
And so the Coquette continues to play hard to get. Even as qualified potential suitors get close, a Coquette lost in the game will get more enjoyment out of never being caught than finding that “happily ever after.”
Most potential partners are putty in the hands of the Coquette.
They are more invested in the Coquette, than the Coquette is in them. With every effort to chase, the prize only grows in value. While their value in the Coquette’s eyes continues to shrink and shrink.
This is an unfortunate perversion of human nature…
We seem to want most what we can’t have.
If something is made readily available to us, we think less of it.
If something is hard to get, or requires great effort, we automatically assume more value.
In dating — especially in adolescence, with our hormones running wild — we are tormented by this.
Our crush on the nice popular girl at school who also happens to live in our neighborhood or go to our church is unrequited. And every time we see her, that crush only grows, even as she remains distant.
You also find this in the Good-Girl/Bad-Boy plot that is the core of so many romantic stories. He’s a rebel and lives a life she could never have, that her family or social circle would never approve of. And yet because she can’t have him, she wants him more.
It shows up over, and over, and over again. Both in stories, and in real life.
There’s something standing in the way of a connection. Whether that’s an external factor. Or simply that the other person is not interested or even intentionally playing hard to get.
And as a result, the chaser grows ever-more obsessed…
This applies in sales, too…
Remember, I said this is NOT an article about dating. Even though I dedicated the front half to dating and seduction metaphors, my real intent is to share one of the most powerful selling lessons you could ever learn and integrate.
And this is ESPECIALLY relevant if you are selling your services, as a freelancer, copywriter, consultant, coach, or anyone else who is selling time and work product.
Remember the Coquette.
Be the Coquette.
Now, I know this is not how our logical mind thinks. Our logical mind thinks we need to be in service, and be available.
But remember, buying decisions may be justified with logic, but they’re always made with emotion. And so the better you are at stimulating the buying EMOTION, the easier it will be to sell. And stimulating the buying emotion is not too different from stimulating the seduction emotion, at least in terms of how it works. Ultimately, you’re still looking to get someone to choose you.
Of course, the counter-example to the Coquette becomes a great metaphor here as well.
In The Art of Seduction, Greene also explains the Anti-Seducers. Those whose behaviors are as quick to turn us off as the seducers are to turn us on. And if the Coquette is the hardest to get, the easiest to get is the Suffocator. The obsessed one that loves you before you even know who they are, who clings incessantly, and whose obsession turns them into a doormat to be walked over.
How many service professionals are Suffocators and effective doormats for their clients?
How many in sales are the very same, regardless of what they sell?
Remember: the more you chase, the less attractive you become…
There are masters of the push and pull of seduction who make themselves imminently available in one moment, and impossible to get the next.
That’s not what I’m talking about here.
Rather, I’m talking about being constantly and completely available, without boundaries. To make yourself totally available is to make yourself totally unattractive.
On the other hand, to make yourself as attractive as possible (in sales, by having an excellent product or service, presented well) and then to make it hard to get to you will only make you more appealing.
Yes, you must offer something of incredible value to be able to pull this off.
But if all you’re doing is trying to shove that value down their throats, you become the Suffocator.
If instead you show them what you got then make them work to get it, their interest will multiply many times over. For the same reason the Coquette is such a recognizable seduction archetype.
Now, here’s one tip on how to pull this off…
Last week, I wrote about What to do if prospects ghost you.
In which I ALSO used a dating metaphor. (If you’re new, I promise I don’t do it all the time.)
Basically, someone wrote to me asking what to do when you think everything is going well with a prospect and suddenly they stop replying to anything.
I got a reply to that, from one of my marketing mentors who reads Breakthrough Marketing Secrets. And he said his team was dealing with this same thing, selling to C-level executives of tech companies.
They’d be interested, interested, interested, then… Nothing.
And the default sales response is to follow up, follow up, follow up.
But my mentor, Jeff, told me that he and his team tried something different.
Instead of another email saying, “Are you still interested?” — which risks making you the Suffocator — they tried a takeaway…
They sent an email along the lines of, “Have you given up on us?” or “Have you decided against us?”
They went from chasing, to turning away.
And the reality is, at this point, many of their leads had actually decided against them, for whatever reason.
But this simple switch did something incredible.
It generated almost immediate sales from people who were still interested. It generated clear communication from some leads who’d been interested but not ready to buy, about their timelines and needs. And it got a clear no from many who were no longer interested but who had stopped responding, so they could stop wasting time on these dead leads.
It was a very tactical implementation of the takeaway, late in the sales process. And it got leads — who had effectively ghosted them — to self-identify as still hot or warm, or now cold.
In his words, “It’s not a panacea, but it helped move the needle.”
Even one simple act of being a little hard to get.
Being more intentional, and doing more of it, more often — perhaps becoming even a little Coquettish in your selling approach — can lead to even bigger breakthroughs.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS: While it’s enjoyable to “play” hard to get, it’s even more powerful to actually BE hard to get. What may start as a game to make selling easier can turn into a reality where your pipeline is full, your fees are high, and you still have a waiting list who want to get a piece of you.