So, all of us have prejudices we didn’t know we had, and the best marketers and sales folks among us have learned to manage those prejudices.

And these prejudices are not what we think they are.

Seth Godin quotes Professor Roland Imhoff, who has made a study of conspiracy theorists.

In one study he cited, it was found that many people who believe that Lady Diana is still alive, having faked her own death, also believe that she was murdered. And in a similar study, people who believe that Osama bin Laden was dead before the Navy Seals arrived at his compound are also likely to report that he’s still alive.

So, while I was reading this section, I realized that I have a prejudice against conspiracy theorists. My initial, internal, visceral reaction is “wow, some people are idiots!”

When I was younger, my brother and I used to enjoy picking apart what teachers and newscasters and other adults said, and find factual or logical flaws in what they said, and make fun of them for being so dumb.

This is fine when you’re ten years old. This is not fine when you’re an adult in the marketing or sales industry.

People shouldn’t have to have all their facts straight in order for me to respect their point of view.

The emphasis of conspiracy theorists is one that I can empathize with – they don’t trust the government or powers that be, they have a healthy skepticism and they question everything. They don’t even necessarily believe all the “facts” that they believe.

But for some people, feelings are more important than facts.

So, why is this important?

Because you can never sell anything (or even effectively market anything) to someone unless you like and respect them.

People have an innate sense of when they’re being looked down upon. They can sense my initial, internal, visceral reaction of “wow, some people are idiots!”

As a salesperson, I can tell when a salesperson has a negative opinion of me. When we were in India, looking at earrings, some of the street vendors could tell that I couldn’t tell real gold from fake. And they didn’t respect that. I could FEEL their disrespect even though we didn’t even share very much of the same language.

And of course I wouldn’t buy from them. I’d find another vendor’s stall where I felt respected and welcomed and paid way too much money for several pairs of earrings. If “real gold” had actually been important to me, I would have spent a lot more time doing research.

And I wouldn’t be buying them on a street corner in India. This was a recreational purchase and a souvenir.

But earrings are not my life, the way they are to a professional jeweler.

So, the moral of this story? Find a way to like and respect your customers. Even if they don’t have their facts straight, and even if they don’t know as much as you do.

Of course you need to get the book and read it, but I thought I would share one of the stories from the book and couple of insights.