Donald Trump is the master of assembling complicated property deals.  Having read through his fascinating book, the art of the deal, I ran across a very important paragraph that talks to a critical principle about business –  PERCEPTION.

When Donald Trump was assembling his first Casino-Hotel project, he got an amazing offer from Holiday Inns.  They wanted to partner with him because of his track record for building on time and within budget.  However on this deal Holiday Inns was particularly interested because they thought he had made some progress on a certain patch of land.  So the day came when the board of Holiday Inns had to do a site visit…

One week before the board meeting, I got an idea.  I called in my construction supervisor and told him that I wanted him to round up every bulldozer and dump truck he could possibly find, and put them to work on my site immediately.

Over the next week I said, I wanted him to transform my two acres of nearly vacant property into the most active construction site in the history of the world.  What the bulldozers and dump trucks did wasn’t important, I said, so long as they did a lot of it.  If they got some actual work accomplished, all the better, but if necessary, he should have the bulldozers dig up dirt from one side of the site and dump it on the other…”

What people think is very important because they make decisions based on that.  The beauty of mastering perception is that you can influence what they think in order to bend the odds in your favour.

I remember negotiating a very important deal when I was 19 years old ( Fresh from High School ).  The deal was about implementing a reporting system worth almost half a million Rands.  To tell you the truth, I had no idea what I was doing (considering what I know now), but I told my client that I’d be bringing the A-Team and that I was the best.  He believed me firstly because it was our first deal (so it was a clean slate – a great opportunity to set the bar) and secondly because I kept the focal point of our negotiations on his problems and not mine.

As a 19 year old kid I had no credibility and no experience but I used the power of perception to my advantage and it worked.

I must stress though that at the end of the day the true test is whether or not you can deliver on your promises.  There’s no point in bending odds when you can’t deliver – that’s just blatant theft!

Vusi Sindane