Trump University Used Sleazy Sales Tactics to Lure Students. And It Summed Them All Up in This Silly Chart.

Get on board.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The training manuals that Trump University gave to its sales people make for some darkly comic reading. Released this week thanks to the ongoing fraud suit against the program, they outline precisely how its admissions “consultants”—aka, telemarketers—were expected to establish a rapport with potential students, feel out their financial situation, and finally convince them to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt in order to attend seminars on getting rich quick in real estate. The “playbooks” are basically step-by-step instructions on how to manipulate people by appealing to their financial hopes and dreams. But they also come with amusingly goofy touches—like this graph, which sums up Trump U’s whole sales pitch.


“We use a two part sales process to set and close a client,” the manual explains. “The first conversation between a Consultant (setter) and the client is designed to qualify the client, build a relationship of trust and set-up the Program Director to close the sale. This sales process is based on managing the emotions of the client by focusing on the psychology of the sale. The metaphor we use for this process is the Roller Coaster of emotions.”


Yes, this sounds a bit like if Glengarry Glen Ross were rewritten as a second-rate Will Ferrell vehicle. Here’s what each of these steps amounts to, in brief:

Introduction: Get the conversation started, remind the mark of the reasons they filled out their application for Trump U in the first place.  

Blast: This amounts to “giving your clients hope again about getting their real estate investment career going or launching their business.”

Probe: Talk about the mark’s finances, figure out if they have room on their credit cards, etc.  

Goals: Remind the mark of their hopes and dreams again. (If that requires preying on the fears of single parents about their hungry children, so be it).

Commit: I can’t really do this part justice with a summary. Here’s the manual:


So, in short, prey on emotion, prey on emotion, talk logistics, prey on emotion, prey on emotion. And also, remember, coffee is for closers.

Read more Slate coverage of Trump University.