In my last post, I talked about a scam that I came across on When I reported the incident to the FBI, I learned that instances of internet fraud are growing exponentially. They get thousands of complaints reported each week.

Each week! How can that be?

Just what is it that makes scam artists so successful?

Is it something that the rest of us can learn how to do?

As much as we hate scammers and fear being scammed, you have to admit that scammers are awfully good at marketing and sales.

The scam artist learns everything they can about the mark, trying to find out what that person’s deepest desire is and how they can access it. They look at what the mark does, where he goes, what he says about himself, what he says about other people. Where he spends his money and what he buys. Anything that could give the scam artist a clue about what matters to the mark and what he wants.

Leverage, a popular TV show that ran from 2008 through 2012, was about a team of bad guys turned good guys who started to help the underdog. In every episode they targeted a crooked individual and proceeded to run a scam on him – all for a good cause, of course.

What can we learn from scammers to make ourselves better sales people?

  • Scammers sing a siren song, offering people their deepest desire.
  • All too often the rest of us extoll the value and benefits of our products, hoping our customers will realize on their own that our product is their deepest desire.
  • Scammers focus on what the mark is buying.
  • All too often, the rest of us focus on what we’re selling.

The trick is to forget (for a moment) about what we’re selling and learn how to identify what our customers want. How do we do that? First, we need to identify who our one perfect customer is.

Most people, when they describe their perfect customer, they say something like:

“Somebody between the ages of 25 and 45; male; likes to drive to work every day and drinks coffee and watches football on the weekend… ”

That’s a targeted demographic. It’s too general and it’s not the same thing as your one perfect customer. Your one perfect customer is a very specific description of a person who you will be talking to in your mind when you think about what you want to say.

Here are a couple of places where you can go to see what I’m talking about:

JLD Avatar

John Dumas’ Avatar is named Jimmy. He’s 34 years old, has a wife and two kids ages 3 & 5 and drives to work by himself every single day. It takes him 27 minute commute to work and when he gets to work, he sits in a cubicle he doesn’t like for 9 hours doing work he doesn’t like. Finally he gets to break out and drive home. In traffic it takes him 32 minutes to get home. He spends a little while playing with his kids and then they have dinner. After dinner he puts the kids to bed and then he hangs out with his wife for a few minutes before she has to rush off and do something. So then he’s there by himself and he asks himself “Why do I spend 80% of my waking hours doing things I don’t feel like doing? Why do I get to do what I like to do only 20% of the time?”

Imagine in your head how different it would feel to talk to “Somebody between the ages of 25 and 45…” compared with talking to Jimmy. How would the two conversations be different?

Whatever you call it (Buyer Persona, Buyer Matrix, Avatar), it’s a tool that can help you get up close and personal with your customers. It can help you identify what they want. And it can help you collect your thoughts and decide what you want to say.

So – What can we learn from scammers to make ourselves better sales people?

We can learn how to connect with our audience’s most desperate desires – except, of course, we’ll have the intention to deliver on our promise!