Trump University’s ‘Playbook’ Is A Showcase In High-Pressure Sales Tactics

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The “playbook” for Trump University employees has been revealed in part of a massive trove of documents that were unsealed Sunday by court order. The playbook reveals the aggressive sales tactics used by the seminar program to convince people to part with thousands of dollars.

An on-going class action lawsuit against Trump University, which despite its name was never accredited, accuses it of engaging in various fraudulent practices to lure customers into paying as much as $35,000 for real estate workshops of dubious value. When questioned about the suit on the campaign trail, Trump defended the venture, pointing towards an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (though that may have been a product of it shutting down) and claiming it had a 98 percent approval rating from customers.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered the unsealing of over 400 pages of documents related to the case Sunday, saying they are of public interest due to Trump’s presidential campaign. Now, Curiel’s action has revealed a 2010 playbook for Trump University’s “team members,” which tells them how to present themselves, how to deal with reporters and other interlopers, and most importantly, how to make a sale.

One part of the playbook tells salesmen to push their pitch regardless of the target’s financial circumstances.

“Money is never a reason for not enrolling in Trump University; if they really believe in you and your product, they will find the money,” the playbook says. “You are not doing any favor [sic] by letting someone use lack of money as an excuse.” Employees are told to sort potential customers based on the amount of liquid wealth they have, and to always try to sell the most expensive program that is feasible.

Other parts of the guide include lengthy sample responses to help salesmen negotiate any resistance they encounter to making a sale. For instance, if a target expresses a concern about going into debt to pay for a workshop, the following response is suggested:

I see, do you like living paycheck to paycheck? Do you like just getting by in life? Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now. Most wealthy people made their money in real estate and it usually started with a decision to get the knowledge and skills to be successful. You need to look at what this small investment will fix in your life. You can stop living paycheck to paycheck, build your retirement account and pay cash for your dream car. You’re here today because you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired and you want to change that- you’re not alone. I’m going to help you take your first step to create the life you’ve dreamed of. Follow me and let’s get you enrolled. Congratulations!

Another rebuttal tells employees to brush off questions about Trump University’s success rate by saying those who fail to benefit from the program simply failed due to their own “procrastination and excuses.”

Employees are also encouraged to suss out personal details about potential customers, so that this personal information can be leveraged to close sales. One example given in the playbook is “a single parent of three children that may need money for food.”

The playbook encourages salesmen to assume that, regardless of what a target says, they really do want to attend a Trump workshop, “because everyone does.”

“Understand that if someone says: ‘I don’t want to go to the training,’ they are really saying: ‘I’m not used to dropping $995 on training and because it is new to me, I’m scared,'” the guide says.

The guidelines talk about far more than just sales, though. They also tell employees how to dress (professionally), what to say (use “Congratulations!” a lot), and give presenters strict guidelines for how to deal with the nosy outsiders.

“Reporters are rarely on your side and they are not sympathetic,” the guide says. Consequently, presenters are ordered to not speak with them, except to tell them Trump University’s media contact. The guide even provides recommendations for handling an attorney general who arrives at the scene, telling them to be courteous but to otherwise disclose nothing unless required by a warrant.

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