As a salesperson, you will be faced with difficult choices. You'll need to decide when it's time to tell the truth and when it's better to conceal the truth for your own personal gain. As a buyer, honesty is one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not they want to do business with you because dishonesty can impact everything from customer retention rates to company culture. Honesty is so important that some companies have written it into their strategy as an official part of their values statement- "Do what we say, not what we do." This blog post will help you find out why honesty matters in Sales and how being honest can improve your relationships at work, home and elsewhere!
A fatal flaw I have both observed and participated in is lying to oneself. Young or inexperienced sellers who are underperforming often take on the personalities they observe of high-achieving sellers they work alongside. They may force charm, charisma, humor, confidence, and many other traits in an attempt to appear as a salesperson whom a buyer would buy from. This has backfired at times in my own career as I could not keep a story straight or maintain a persona.
When you consider what sellers have to work with, it makes sense that sellers may fall into this trap. Every discipline has its heroes that draw the attention or awe of students and observers. Physics has Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Art has Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. For existing and aspiring sellers, who do they have? I have learned from several great salespeople. But you will not read about them on blogs or see movies recounting their tremendous work as sales professionals. Frankly, being a Great Seller is not sexy. When I see someone over-selling their abilities, I consider it a red flag. Sales is a high-risk, high-reward career and sellers should strive to reduce as much risk as possible that is within their influence or control.
There are many supposed high-achieving sales professionals who offer classes and advice on popular platforms such as LinkedIn. Aside from those loose connections, sellers have only managers and sellers they are surrounded by to leverage as ideals they can one day reach. Standards they can achieve.
Great Sellers are honest with their buyers and themselves. They know when their offering does not meet their buyer’s need, or only solves a portion of it. This is not a deal-breaker in and of itself, however, a Great Seller helps their customer prioritize their needs such that their solution addresses its most pertinent causes. To do this effectively, the seller must also understand the product or service he or she represents well enough to navigate any buyer through the buying cycle.
Great Sellers are always honest about what their solution can and cannot do. Sometimes, after speaking with all parties in the decision-making chain, a seller can understand a buyer’s need better than they do. Great sellers use this information to guide their customers through the pros and cons of each offering. Competitors may misrepresent their offerings, and it is the role of Great Sellers to act as a consultant in the buyer’s best interest.
Lying can be detrimental to both buyer and seller. If the product or service does not work upon implementation, the customer may cancel the service or return the product. They may even take it step further and sue the seller for financial damages or damage the seller’s reputation through negative reviews. In these cases, contracts are incredibly important. Contract writing should, essentially, begin with the first conversation and develop throughout the selling process. Consider a contract as a target you are preparing yourself to hit. As the sales cycle progresses, you learn the environment and influences that will impact your ability to hit a bullseye.