I found a half-eaten éclair in the refrigerator the other day and I asked my eldest if he’d eaten it. He looked me dead in the eyes and said no. I didn’t believe him. After checking with my wife and knowing that the youngest doesn’t eat sweets I asked again. No said he…I asked again this time telling him that through eliminating all others in the house, the only possibility left was him. Ok I ate it – sly smile breaking his lips – he’d been caught. This interchange prompted some thoughts about lying.
I used to make some pretty audacious claims with my parents growing up – and more often times than not I’d get away with it.
It’s unfair to the next generation that the internet has quashed their ability to lie.
Every conversation now has a source that can be sited instantaneously. That’s not to say that everything on the internet is true – it’s not. There is however this self-policing capability that it has via multiple search queries which are very easy to do.
Just let a politician make the bold claim. They will be confronted quicker by ordinary citizens – only to have the media with hired fact checkers following up. Fact checking is nearly instantaneous with the increase in mobile internet use. (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/fact-checking-newt-gingrichs-food-stamps-claims/)
Selling into this environment can be fun and challenging. Mis-quote a price or what was on your website and I can check what you’d posted – sometimes over a year ago (http://www.archive.org/web/web.php). Mis-represent your competition – I’ll find the real data on their website. Brag about some slideware feature and I’ll talk to folks in LinkedIn groups, Twitter, and Facebook that are your clients for the real scoop. Try to game me by drowning out reviews with noise (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/09/russia-putin-twitter-facebook-battles). You will just draw more bad attention to yourself and burn any trust you may have had.
It’s a complicated environment that forces us all to be better at what we are doing and eliminates opaqueness. All of us are explorers, seeking out reviews and rating for colleagues and peers as we move through our decision process. Salespeople have to evolve their strategies to synch up with this modern environment. Here are four don’ts to bear in mind that might help you out – there are many more but it’s a good start.
Don’t Be Lazy – Better to ask for the éclair as you’ll probably get it. It’s never been easier to collect data on the companies/people you are trying to connect with as well as their company’s primary concerns and possibly their personal concerns with their company. With all the differing social account s out there; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs you will be able to start directed conversation. If they don’t have any of the types of accounts mentioned I’d bet that their boss or their bosses boss does. By doing this legwork your proving to them you are more than just resourceful – you care enough about their problem to take the time to do it. Insert yourself into the prospects social network by participating in their groups. Don’t Force It – It’s a small world and news travels fast, the missing éclair will probably get noticed. Pushing for “no” without being obnoxious is a great time management exercise. Try to recognize the real decision maker early on and focus on their concerns. It might not be the right time, fit nor the place for your company or product. It might be better not to spend time on a deal that will never happen. Better to focus on the ones that will quickly position you to close the deal. Pushing for honesty from both sides should be part of your process. Don’t Share Crap – There are much better things to eat in the fridge than the éclair. Most Sales Reps say “I don’t have any good content” to which I’ll often reply “OK use someone else’s until we create it”. There is nothing wrong with sharing a blog that makes you and your companies point. Obviously you’ll need to focus on the prospects concerns and objectives but using 3rd party content increases your credibility and reinforces awareness of your services. Someone else is confirming the problem you solve! Don’t Do a One and Done – Letting someone know you’ve eaten the éclair will get it replaced quicker than hiding the fact. Make sure that you coordinate your all efforts in every communication medium – Trish Bertuzzi says that “voicemail is your friend”. Not only is she right but has another great piece of advice – “target 4 individuals in the same company”. How much more compelling is it when you leave a message and email saying – “I’ve also left voicemails and sent emails to Bob, Sue, and Dave”. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (or in this case, an éclair) you get a call back. It seems to take more effort to lie (omission counts) than it’s worth so what’s the downside to being honest?