I wanna start with an apology: Based on a very brief hot-take published in Slate, I posted this quip:
Um…this is totally run-of-the-mill sales material. Not saying it’s not sleazy, just saying it’s not that special. https://t.co/43OC4yCqds
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) June 3, 2016
After seeing the these two Jon Oliver episodes (vol 1 and vol 2), I finally dug into the 2010 Trump University Playbook in earnest (as opposed to just re-reading the same nibblets everyone was passing around). And you know what? This playbook is special.
Since the Slate excerpts were chosen for the lulz, not the insight, all I saw was what was there: Standard-issue sales training materials, with the genre-mandated jankety English and flop-sweat sheen of Glengarry Glen Ross bravado. If you have experience with consumer-oriented sales (i.e., “B2C”—that’s “business to consumer”, generally contrasted to “B2B,” which is “business to business”), none of this is that unusual. And so that’s what I tweeted.
But, of course, I was looking at it as someone who’s worked in sales, studied the psychology of selling, written sales copy, and slogged through a lot of terrible sales material and ethically questionable sales advice. After digging into the playbook with my “Normal Human” eyes on, I’m seeing the ickiness much more clearly. That fantastic, revelatory ickiness.
Give these materials a gander, esp. the “Sales Playbook” section starting around pg. 96. Read it, and get a sense of what a steep disadvantage you are at, as a normal human thrust into a professional sales situation (e.g., buying a car, sitting down with a “financial advisor,” being dragged to court, being interrogated).
This is, in fact, a pretty tight textbook on the dark arts of high-pressure sales/persuasion situations where there is a built-in power differential that favors the seller.
Frankly, if Trump U really wanted to give students value, then screw real estate investing; they should have handed out copies of this. “Here’s how we suckered you; go forth and sucker others!”
Maybe not worth $995, but certainly worth more than nothing.
RECOMMENDED READING: 2010 Trump University Playbook