The Sad Proliferation of Deceptive Sales Tactics

by | Mar 15, 2021 | Entrepreneurship

It’s sad.

Lately, it seems like everyone is flocking to cereal box university to get their sales permit.

The increasing desperation of so-called braindead influencers and hustlers is pity-worthy, if somewhat understandable, but only based on the general state of the world.

Even so, you can’t make a good case that their methods don’t throw good sense and caution right to the wind. Try.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Good luck building a long-term business on the back of methods that trick people into giving you money.

The “Post Your Links Below” Method

These posts are as common as flags on the fourth of July. I see them daily, and I wish I didn’t (I need to curate my newsfeeds better).

In big, bold letters accompanied by a colorful, eye-catching background they proclaim:

“We’re looking for music to showcase on our radio show (or podcast, or live stream). Drop your links below!”

Or something to that effect.

What musician in their right mind wouldn’t be curious about such an opportunity? What musician wouldn’t drop their links?

Well, here’s what happened when I “dropped” my link. I was told “sounds great, but you need to reach out to me via email – it’s on our Facebook page” as if I had done something wrong by following instruction.

To add insult to injury, they couldn’t be bothered to say they were expecting an email in the first place, let alone provide the email address where I was to contact them. They’d already wasted my time, and now they expected me to hunt for their email address.

When I finally did email them, and heard back, again they said, “Wow, this is some great work. It certainly deserves to be heard by thousands of people” before they launched right into their sales pitch.

Wait. I thought you were looking for content… when in fact you were just looking for customers.

Deceptive. Plain and simple.

The “Check Out Our Profiles” Method

If you can’t attract your customers, then go where they are, right? Sounds sensible. But cold calling can be a double-edged sword in the hands of an experienced salesperson, never mind an inexperienced 17-year-old who just discovered TikTok.

Cold calling can be a double-edged sword in the hands of an experienced salesperson, never mind an inexperienced 17-year-old who just discovered TikTok. Share on X

And direct message inboxes have always been akin to a “throw in all the leftovers” stew, where barely literate people exchange come-ons, bots ask you to verify your identity, and “influencers” try to coax you into caring about them, commenting on their latest cat meme, or getting their pseudointellectual pictures-only coffee table book.

Oh, sure. Occasionally, you can expect a genuine message from a real person too. But your mileage will vary, and you might be quite wary of half-wits spamming your inbox by that point.

Well, there’s no elegance to this method, because it goes straight for the kill. Are you ready?

Someone you’ve never interacted with before, out of nowhere, sends a DM and says:

“Hey, your posts are the best things we’ve ever seen in the world! We’d sure like to share your content. Here’s our first profile with over 600,000 followers (@delicious_insta_babes). Here’s another one with over 1 million followers (@guitar_players_rule233). Check them out and let us know!”

You get no points for figuring out that people like Instagram babes or guitar players. You get negative points for assuming my content would fit in with such shlock.

And do I even need to tell you where this train wreck is headed next? That’s right – the moment you express any interest in having your content shared, they roll out their rate sheet like they were in snake oil sales.

The “We’d Love to Share Your Work” Method

This is basically the same thing as the “Check Out Our Profiles” method, except that, as with the “post your links below” method, you might be fooled into believing it’s genuine (but only at first).

I just got a legit looking email today that in effect said:

“Hey, we’ve been noticing your posts on Instagram and it really seems like you know what you’re doing. Do you mind if we share your content on our profiles?”

I mean, there might be some situations where you’d say “no,” like if you were uncomfortable having the art you poured your blood, sweat and tears into shared alongside big breasted bimbos wearing slingshots.

But otherwise, the automatic response is “Sure, I’d love to have my content seen elsewhere. I’d love to grow my following.”

So, I responded, and then I got this response:

“Great! We look forward to sharing your content. It’s $39 for our first package, $69 for our second package, $129 for our third package, and here’s what’s offered…”


I thought they cared about my content. Not in lining their pockets with green. There is a difference!

Final Thoughts

I’m tired of the fake “caring.”

I’m tired of a potential opportunity turning into sales pitches when they were never framed as such.

And I’m tired of being treated like I haven’t read the same cereal boxes, and don’t know all the tactics you could possibly throw at me.

I get it. Some people buy into this stuff.

But if you’re going after ambitious people like me – there’s one thing I can guarantee:

We appreciate direct communication. Get to the point. If you’re planning to sell me something, tell me upfront. Don’t waste my time. Pre-qualify me. Ask me if I’m looking for a solution. Ask me if I’ve got the budget before launching into a presentation. That’s what a good salesperson would do.

Pay what you want for the first issue of my digital magazine, The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician