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Is a sales person allowed to lie?

Boss, I have a question of a philosophical nature for you.

Wow, a philosophical question, Peter. What have you been smoking?

Nothing, boss. I was wondering: can we lie to a customer?

Of course not, Peter. A lier will always be caught. A customer must be able to trust you.

We can’t always be completely truthful, boss.

Give me an example.

Some features of our products are really not good. I think we should say that to our customers.

You are going to give negative pitches now? ‘Dear customer, please don’t buy our products!’

No, I just want to be honest.

Not telling everything isn’t the same as lying, is it?

Very subtle difference, boss.

Do you think our competitors are talking about the evident weaknesses of their products?

No, they act as if they are all hunky dory.

So?

Their sales people are even more untruthful than we are?

Since you are in a philosophical mood, Peter, let me ask you. What is the definition of selling?

Presenting your product is such a way that the customer will buy it. Stress the benefits, explain the value.

Right. That is also the role of marketing. Now, do people believe the advertising they see?

They have probably become immune to the positivo tone of the advertising industry. People are not stupid, they know that marketing is all about manipulating the perception of people. They take it with a pinch of salt.

Same with sales, Peter. There is always some skepticism toward a sales person. A customer thinks: he is here to trick me into something I don’t need.

Yes, so?

Your job is to listen to the customer, understand his requirements and show how our products are going to help him solve his problems.

And what if our products are not good enough, when they don’t really solve those problems.

You are suffering from self inflicted objections, Peter.

Self inflicted what, boss?

Self inflicted objections.

You don’t really believe in our products. You hear objections all the time, you want to anticpate them, so you raise them before a customer does

Remember last week, when we went to see Maria of PetroChem, you said literally: “You might think that this is all quite expensive, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did. It is a lot of money.” and then adding insult to injury, you said: “You might think that the competition has a better product. Your people might need some time to get used to our product. It is not easy to use. We hear that all the time.”   I was having an heart attack hearing you destroy our entire company, Peter!

I was too honest.

You were, and it didn’t help very much, because Maria decided not to buy whereas she really needs our product. You need to listen very carefully to what your customer really says,. Take your time to let your customer explain what his or her objections are. And then deal with them. Don’t force the customer into refusing our offering. That’s the competition’s job.

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