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Are Buyers Really Liars?

RevenueJournalAreBuyersReallyLiars[1]Are buyers really liars?

Actually, the real question is: Do sellers do things that force buyers to lie?

The answer, of course, is YES.

To see why the answer is yes, let’s look at a typical interaction between a salesperson and a customer in a selling situation.

Imagine that a salesperson is delivering a pitch to a potential customer. At some point during the pitch, the salesperson says or does something that immediately makes the customer think: Whoa. That’s not good. Major red flag. Hmmm. Yep, MAJOR. In fact, it’s a show-stopper. There is no way I’m going to give this guy my business.

There are dozens of triggers for this thought. The salesperson may have:

  • Mentioned, off-handedly, that the company is up for sale
  • Said something that the customer knows is clearly a lie
  • Said something about the way the company does business that the customer simply won’t tolerate, including inefficient/rude processes or policies, or illegal practices
  • Revealed things about other customers that he should not have revealed, and the customer decides he cannot trust the salesperson or his company with his own information
  • Said that they can’t provide a product or service in time to fit the customer’s own deadlines
  • Made it clear that he is incapable of listening to what the customer is really saying or respecting what the customer really wants

This is just a partial list; I could easily list dozens more. But you get the point. The seller has just done something that stops the buying process cold.

When I am the buyer in these situations, I immediately stop the conversation and tell the seller the truth. I tell them that they have just caused me to decide not to do business with them, that nothing they can say will change my mind, and that I am telling them to help them. Then I hang up or walk out, even as they are still speaking, if they refuse to take my word for it.

In other words, I don’t lie. But I am not your typical customer. I am a revenue coach, and when a salesperson does something this stupid, I feel obligated to tell them.

Your customers are not revenue coaches. They are people who are hoping you can solve their problem.

If you, by your own words and actions (via your salespeople, partners, website, emails, etc.), say something that turns the customer off – and kills the deal – they won’t tell you. They will simply leave (if they’ve come to your website) or unsubscribe (if they’ve been getting your emails) or let the salesperson keep thinking that he’s making a positive impression, while at the same they are trying to shorten the sales call as much as possible. When the salesperson is done, the customer will smile and shake hands, and say, “Sure,” when the salesperson asks if he can “follow up next week.” And then the customer will go back to looking for a suitable solution.

In this situation, customers lie because it will be too painful to tell the truth. They know perfectly well that if they tell the salesperson what they’re really thinking, the salesperson will launch into a passionate, pushy, disgustingly boring rant about why the customer is WRONG. This is what salespeople are trained to do: “overcome objections.” The result is that customers stating their wise and valid concerns are treated as if they are stupid idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about.

None of us wants to subject ourselves to that kind of insulting treatment.

So yes, buyers lie. Sellers force them to.

If company managers listened to their customers and gave them what they wanted, buyers wouldn’t have to lie. If salespeople, websites, emails, and other company-generated content answered the questions customers had, honestly and efficiently, buyers could move through their buying process without hesitation. No red flags, sign me up.

Companies would sell more. A lot more.

And buyers would be relieved. They  could stop lying and start buying.


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