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Lies of Omission

Most salespeople are honest and ethical. But it’s not so much because the balance of power between buyer and seller has changed as it pertains to who has information. And it’s not because the Internet allows buyers to turn the tables on sellers and sales organization, although that probably plays some small part.

The reason that most salespeople are honest is because it’s the most effective way to sell. It doesn’t help you to lie or mislead your client to win their business if by doing so you lose their future business forever. It doesn’t pay to destroy your relationships and reputation. This is why salespeople have to believe in what they sell; if they don’t believe in what they sell, they won’t sell it. They’d rather suffer through the pain of missing their number than to destroy their important client relationships.

Great Expectations

There is one area where a lot of salespeople could use some improving: managing expectations.

It’s not that salespeople overtly lie to their clients or mislead them. Instead, they allow their prospective client to believe something that isn’t true without correcting it.

The words you use lead buyer to a certain set of beliefs. They believe you are going to help them produce better results (and you are). They believe that those results are going to require a certain investment (and it is). And they believe it’s going to take a certain amount of time and a certain level of commitment from your client and their team (it will).

You can’t allow your dream client to believe the results are going to be better than they are. You also can’t allow them to believe that those results are going to be produced faster than is really possible either. If they have built up those beliefs in their mind, you are obligated to change those beliefs, lest you destroy their trust.

You can’t allow your dream client to believe the cost is going to be less than what it truly will be either. This is another trust-destroyer.

And the last one, the level of commitment required of your client and their team, is my favorite. Some salespeople mistakenly believe that they’ll lose their opportunity if they suggest how difficult it will really be for the client to get the results they need. They would rather risk allowing their dream client to believe that no real effort will be required and deal with the repercussions later.

It Will Set You Free

Your clients are grown ups. They can handle the truth. In fact, nothing builds your trust and credibility more than openly discussing the real challenges in producing the results they need. This is what earns you the right to join their management team. If you want trusted advisor status, it’s found in all of the difficult conversations about challenging issues.

The fast track to being something far less than trusted advisor is found in allowing your client to believe something that isn’t true. It’s not a lie of commission. But it is a lie of omission. Your client will treat both lies the same.

Questions

How do you manage your client’s expectations?

What do you notice that leads you to believe they are building up your solution too much?

How do you nudge them back to the truth without risking your opportunity?

Why do your clients want to believe they can have the results for a lower price, with less work, and faster?


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Comments

comments

  • http://twitter.com/MZazeela Marc Zazeela

    Anthony – Lies of omission are still lies. Knowingly let someone believe something that is not true will only serve to bite you in the end, in the end.

    Why run that risk?

    Cheers,
    Marc

  • John Holden

    Setting realistic expectations can be a problem when your ‘competition’ is a one hit wonder. In selling to homeowners I often lose jobs to companies who promise the world and deliver a lot less.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      It’s still true, John. It’s easier to believe that you can have cheapest, fastest, and best all in one offering. In my experience is takes people three or four experiences before people decide to stop underinvesting.

  • Victoria

    Honesty is indeed the best policy, particularly in B2B sales. Though white lies, or ‘lies of omission’ may land quick sales and short term clients, a trusting business relationship with a client is far more valuable. Long term and established client relationships will garner repeat business and further your professional reputation.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Agreed!



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