Do You Create Liars?

Scott Farrell comments:

The image of the “shady salesperson” is a stereotype for a reason — many sales reps are willing, even eager to use pressure and misdirection in order to make a sale. In return, many customers and clients are willing to lie to deceitful, manipulative salespeople. As business consultant Art Sobczak points out, this lack of trust and honesty isn’t good for businesses or the customers they serve. In order to make the transition from “shady salesperson” to “knight in shining armor,” you need to be strong, forthright and honorable in order to win the respect of those you do business with. His principles for honest, upstanding sales practices are entirely in tune with the notion of chivalry in business.

Bringing honesty to the sales floor

art-sobczakHave you ever turned a prospect into a liar?

Consider this scenario: A sales rep gets nowhere on a prospecting phone call. Because he thinks he’s doing something productive, or he’s in a rush to minimize the pain and get off the phone, he uses one of these laughable lines:

“Well, keep us in mind, OK?”
“Here’s my number, write it down just in case.”
“How about I give you a call in six months or so?”

When I’m the prospect, I really do feel quite guilty (OK, maybe only slightly … all right, not the least bit of remorse) when I respond with an, “OK, I will keep you in mind,” or when I’m pretending to write down their number. “What was that second number again?”

These phrases make liars out of prospects.

Face it. They have no intention of “keeping us in mind,” let alone writing down our number. These phrases don’t accomplish anything positive, and give no reason for the listener to ever want to consider “keeping you in mind” or calling you.

But you can and should salvage something from these calls. Here’s what you should do and say instead.

Determine Potential Realistically

A money- and time-wasting mistake is hanging on to prospects when there’s no shred of evidence that the person is a prospect. Maybe you’ve experienced it: These “prospects” are recycled through your tickler system. You peruse the notes, get that aching pang in your stomach recalling your last dead-end call. And since there’s nothing leading you to believe they’re any better of a prospect today … you page through to the next prospect, postponing the inevitable.

Or you call and experience either rejection or another put-off.

Another error is letting them go when, indeed, there might be some potential. Find out for sure. Ask, “Ben, under what circumstances would you ever see yourself considering another vendor?”

Notice the wording here. It’s a question that not only asks if they ever would use someone else, but it also asks for the circumstances that would surround it. For example, I’ve heard prospects respond, “Well, I suppose if I ever got into an emergency situation where they weren’t able to deliver, I’d have to look elsewhere.”

Then you have an opportunity to pick up on that remark and continue questioning.

On the other hand, if they say, “Look, you’re wasting your time buddy. Quit calling me!” write them off and move on. And feel good about it, since you obtained a decision.

Promise Proactively

To reiterate, “Keep us in mind,” is a worthless phrase. If you truly want someone to keep you in mind, give them a reason. And tie it into a problem they might experience — a problem you could solve. That might prompt them to not only think of you, but better yet, to call you.

Let’s say you know you can help a company lower their property taxes, but they either don’t see the need at this point, or don’t believe you. You might end the call with, “I still feel we can help you. Here’s something to consider: when you review your property tax itemization: Take a look at the specific valuation and charges for your out-of-state properties. If you feel those taxes are high and question them, keep in mind we are specialists on the tax laws in every state, and know the best way to challenge, and eventually lower the bill. I’ll send you a card with my number on it, so keep it in your tax file, and give me a call then if you feel it would help.”

Don’t make liars out of people. The process is simple:

  1. Determine if there ever will be potential.
  2. Give them examples of situations to look for, and associate them with the problem you can solve.When they do experience these problems, you’ll have a greater chance of them thinking of you.

© 2005 Art Sobczak

About the author: This article is reprinted from the website of Dave Kahle, the Growth Coach. Dave is a consultant and trainer who helps his clients increase their sales and improve their sales productivity. He speaks from real-world experience, having been the number one salesperson in the country for two companies in two distinct industries. Dave has trained thousands of salespeople to be more successful in the Information Age economy. He’s the author of over 500 articles, a monthly e-zine and four books. His latest is 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople. He has a gift for creating powerful training events that get audiences thinking differently about sales.