Here are some of the responses that were sent in from the article on "Selling Ethics: When Did it Become Okay to Lie?"
“Buyers Are Liars”
When I first started selling, I was told, "All buyers are liars!" It's a disheartening thought. Most of the salespeople I hired fought the notion, but after they started making calls, they discovered it was true…. At first, prospects do lie. About almost everything -- whether they have time to talk with you, how their business is, who has authority to buy, how big the budget is. Eventually, as you build a relationship, that changes. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all start on a higher plane? The closest thing I've seen to a system to do that is what you're teaching.
This comment really brings things full circle because if “buyers are liars,” it’s because they don’t feel comfortable or safe telling the truth. The person doing the selling has used some type of traditional sales technique that has inadvertently caused the prospect not to trust them -- something that has triggered the negative “salesperson” stereotype. This stereotype makes the prospect fear sales pressure, so they lie to protect themselves. With the Mindset, these kinds of triggers simply aren’t there. When prospects know that you’ve made their agenda your agenda, they’ll tell you the truth because you’re focused on helping them, not yourself.
Is Telling the Truth a “Technique”?
I would dispute that using "technique" is a bad thing in and of itself. It’s only bad when the technique one uses is dishonest or deceptive. Asking questions is a technique, having a conversation is a technique…heck, telling the truth could even be considered a technique. I’ve come across organizations where lying to the prospect and the client is "...just the way we do things here. Hey, we have families to feed.” It's unacceptable no matter what the reason, and it's plain stupid when you consider that you just don't need to lie to get an appointment or a sale. It's amazing to see the relief on salespeople's faces when they hear that message and "get" it!
(My response is under the next one, since both this and the one below it are closely related.)
What's Wrong with “Persuasion”?
What's wrong with persuasion? I have been wrong many times and I love being persuaded (or learning) of a better way.
My feeling is that words like “technique” and “persuasion” all have the basic idea of convincing someone to do something. From the Mindset perspective, helping prospects to become clear about their problem is more potent than trying to “persuade” them of your solution. Also, words like “technique” and “persuasion” are all traditional “salesmanship” words. It’s easy to confuse the issue by using sales terms and ideas that come out of traditional approaches to selling -- but that’s like trying to “pour” the old sales language into the Mindset “pitcher” -- it just doesn’t fit.
Is It Okay to Tell “Little White Lies” to Get Appointments?
You've hit on a huge area of out-of-integrity behavior -- getting appointments. Lots of little white lies: "I'm going to be in your area, just want to stop by to drop off some literature, it'll only take 5 minutes, I promise it'll be worth your while, I've got another appointment in your building/town," etc., etc. These lines rarely, if ever, lead to getting anyone a really good appointment, but I was certainly taught to say them regularly in my early days of selling. Yet the damage to one's personal honesty and integrity was enormous, all for telling seemingly inconsequential lies promoted by those sales gurus. Thanks for bringing up this issue.
The real issue here is the one of using small untruths to get us something we want. These kinds of “white lies” are exactly what sales gurus have been teaching for years because they believe that the only objective is to make the sale. So the end justifies the means. They don’t understand that when you use “techniques” like these, you’re risking the relationship for the sale.
The Lesson of Enron
Taken to the nth degree, you have [Enron's] Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling on their way to prison…People lost billions on "lies," and now no one trusts anyone. Gains achieved from unethical means end up being a burden to the perpetrator, even if the legal system doesn't catch up with them. True happiness cannot be achieved from false pretenses.
This e-mail certainly takes the idea of telling the truth in the selling environment to a much larger, more important message. The Enron case is indicative of how becoming comfortable with not telling the truth on a small scale can make it possible to not tell the truth on a large scale. Every time a small white lie “works,” it makes it easier for us to tell bigger lies, which can lead to Enron-level corruption.
Final Thought: Is the Truth a Sliding Scale?
So, is telling the truth a sliding scale? From the Unlock The Game perspective, the purest relationships are the ones that are based on truth. So when you start “sliding away” from the truth, you’re actually giving yourself permission to move away, little by little, from a place of integrity.
After all, if everything you say and do is based on the truth, life becomes simpler.
To your success,
P.S. Your feedback and comments always welcome. You can write to me here.