Schopenhauer: the best sales rep

collectif Published by Staff – 1 January 2021

In 1864, Arthur Schopenhauer wrote The Art of Being Right, in which he sets out tricks and stratagems for always giving the impression that you’re right. The impression! The idea is to show that you can always appear to be right, even if you’re wrong. A true source of inspiration.

“But it’s a book that preaches being underhanded!” you will say. Yes and no. It also gives you the tools to thwart all the manipulation techniques used by clients, who are never short on ideas for explaining why your competitors are better and less expensive. Both parties use dialectics to influence and persuade each other.

Schopenhauer’s book contains 38 stratagems for outmaneuvering others.  We have selected five:

Conceal your game

Just like in Poker, you have to be discreet and keep an ace up your sleeve! Don’t be predictable. You can’t let your opponent see what your next move is. Don’t lay all your cards on the table and don’t be as forthcoming as possible if it means revealing a weakness! Example: Clients will have trouble pulling the trigger if they know they’re the first to purchase a product, but there has to be a first customer for every product!

Appeal to authority

You need a third party to appeal to authority. A third party not taking part in the conversation and, if possible, impossible to question or too vague to define. That’s tough to counter. Example: “It’s the market that sets the prices, not me.”

Categorize your opponent

The idea here is to lump your opponent’s assertion together with a theory that’s frowned upon or an unpopular opinion. Example: I see what you mean but everyone does that these days.


if the discussion turns in your opponent’s favor, you can take back the advantage by introducing a red herring and insisting that’s it’s relevant to the conversation, even if that’s not the case.

Example: Seeking trade-offs in a negotiation where the client asks you to lower your prices is a good example of this tactic.

Anger your opponent (careful with this one)

Once your opponent is angry and it shows, Schopenhauer explains that you should point that out immediately and harp on it. Anger clouds people’s judgment. It makes them focus more on themselves and their undermined authority than on their real interests and the quality of their arguments.

  • Logo linkedin