The Good Cop-Bad Cop Routine, in Sales?

The Good Cop-Bad Cop Routine, in Sales?

In movies we often see two police officers interrogate a prisoner or suspect.

They often use the infamous good cop - bad cop routine. One of the officers is tuff, angry and often even cruel.

The other one is the exact opposite, being kind, getting coffee and asking the suspect to confide in her. Because the prisoner feels like the good cop is protecting her from the bad cop a bond of trust often arises and the prisoner ends up spilling their guts and telling the good cop everything.

Can we use the same methodology in sales? Even though we are just one?

The Pink Panther

In the new first pink panther movie (with Steve Martin) he interrogates a prisoner, being both the good cop and the bad cop. It is a very funny scene, but if you think about it, that is exactly what we are trying to do as salesmen.

Changing Tempo

If you have worked in sales you have probably heard that it is very important to keep the tempo of your conversations fluid. You don't want to fall into the habit of talking with the same monotone voice and move at the same speed throughout the conversation.

Changing tempo is a tool that keeps both you and your prospect on your toes.

You become more interesting to listen to and it gives you the chance to underscore important points, either by speeding up or slowing down.

The Good Salesman

If you as a salesman can get the customer to feel about you as the prisoner feels about the good cop you are in the perfect situation to do an accurate needs analysis and have the customer listen and respect the advice you give.

This takes that you adopt the characteristics of the good cop, you listen, show compassion and try to come up with a solution that will help them.

The Bad Salesman

There is a reason the bad salesman is a part of the interrogation. It frightens the prisoner and pushes him towards the good cop. It also makes the good cop appear all the more kind and caring.

As a salesman it is useful to adopt this side of the equation as well.

Sometimes be tough, put your foot down and make them listen.

By sometimes showing them the harsh reality without gift wrapping it is a great way to move over to the good salesman again.


This going back and forth between good salesman and bad salesman is hard to master and is difficult to keep track of.

Sometimes it feels as if you are a schizophrenic.

A place to start is by making your tempo fluid. Slow down, lower your voice almost to a whisper when it is something they really need to hear. When someone whispers people instinctively listen harder so that they really hear.

When you want to create a feeling, show them a point you are passionate about or just pound reality into them; speed up! Let the feelings you want to spread be heard in your voice, talk louder and faster.

This makes you very quickly look like a schizophrenic good salesman, (a somewhat) bad salesman.

And the feeling of trust from the customer usually becomes automatic letting you know all you need in order to make the sale.

Action Exercise

1. Take an inventory check; do you let people see your emotions when you are selling? If not, try changing that and letting them see how you really feel.

Your Thoughts

1. What do you think? Is this a good technique?

2. Have you tried it? What has been your experience?

3. Do you have another method that works better?

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