Doug Tucker looks at why nearly a quarter of sales people openly confess to bending the truth to close a sale – and why they shouldn’t.
Around 22% of sales people openly confess to bending the truth to close a sale, according to Sales Commando research.
What are the lies that are being told?
In a sales context, it’s all about the persuasive power of numbers. Every product and service has its competitor. Under pressure, it’s all too easy to inflate statistic X and over-promise on performance Y to beat the claims of the competition.
The reality is that as soon as a prospect picks up the scent of snake oil, they’re off, business is lost and so is the opportunity to go back for a second try. Lying is terminal – it’s something that sales professionals do not do.
There are ways to avoid the trap
I have sympathy with sales folk. It’s a damned hard profession and requires strength of character under pressure to get right, and yet it’s exactly this pressure that causes untruths to be told.
For example, a product needs a week to be delivered. Sales person A promises delivery in three days whilst sales person B says two weeks. Sales person A cannot deliver on his promise, the customer does not receive the product on time and the sales relationship collapses.
However, sales person B’s product arrives on time – a week earlier than quoted. And the client is so delighted a firm sales relationship is forged. This example can be carried through to almost every aspect of the sales pitch – product or service performance, features, benefits and advantages. Twist the truth and you’re ultimately sunk.
Films add to the romanticism of ‘at all costs’ sales
Look at films like Tin Men and Glengarry Glen Ross, classic films that explore the underworld of lying, cheating sales methods. These films and many others like them add to the romanticism of ‘at all costs’ sales. But they are stories and, to the modern-day sales professionals, merely entertaining examples of how not to conduct oneself in the real sales world.
The key word is honesty. Avoid any temptation to exaggerate facts and figures, and instead focus on the truthful positives. After all, we’re living in the information age, surrounded by facts and figures that are easily researchable and so lies are quickly outed.
My ultimate advice is, unless you want an early exit from your sales career, don’t bend the truth but be an ambassador for it.
With thanks to Doug Tucker at Sales Commando