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Liars: Customers Vs Sales People

This is a discussion that has been taking place for years and years. Who is the biggest liar? Is it the customer or the sales people? I have recently conducted a brief poll on our Facebook page ( facebook.com/themarketingsalesblog ) asking this very question. Despite the sample being relatively small, the results reflect what the studies and the experts have found as well. The result was pretty close and as follows:

53% believe that Sales people lie more often during a transaction
47% believe that Customers lie more often during a transaction

Let’s get down to it and the paint the real picture. The truth of the matter and this is based on my personal experiences in sales and interactions with hundreds of customers, is that despite popular opinion that sales people are the more frequent liars, the reality is that customers lie, and they do it all the time. Now, I’m not saying that sales people are saints, but when it comes to who does it more, the customers have the lead. Having said that, what’s really interesting is why and how both parties lie during a transaction.

The biggest liars are the customers. They do it often, consistently and directly. As salespeople we are trained to see and filter through lying customers. Common lies that customers will throw at you are the following:
“That’s all I can spend”, “I haven’t been anywhere else yet”, “We come recommended”, “This is my last offer”, “I’m just looking”, “I will think about it”, “I don’t know how this happened”, “I barely used it”, “I want to buy now, what’s your absolute best price?”, and more of this sort of.

To be able to identify, see through and proceed with tackling these lies by customers, one must understand why customers tend to lie so often. The reasons are simple. Everybody loves to buy, but nobody likes to be sold, hence why they don’t reveal the true extend of what they actually need. They believe that by keeping their cards folded gives them some sort of leverage over an experienced sales person. Sometimes the reason for lying is because there is not enough trust between the two parties, or they are unsure about the sales process or the sales person’s motives.

Now as I have mentioned before, sales people aren’t saints. Sales people tend to also lie, but the lies they use are in a different format. What sales people do is they lie by omission. This means that they will not tell a direct lie, but they wont share all the facts with the customers. They will select which parts of the truth they will reveal. For instance, if a product has A B C features, but not D E C, and the customer only asks for A B C, then the sales people will only talk of these features and avoid discussion reference D E C. The customer may discover later on their own that D E C features are not there.

As before we need to understand the why something like this happens. A lot of sales people lie by omission as they are afraid that revealing the limitations of the product or service will loose them the sale. They might also do it in order to cover up some other misconception already formed in the mind of the consumer.

None the less, as mentioned at the beginning, both parties have a tendency to lie during a transaction. Despite popular belief, it is the customers who lie more often during a transaction in order to get the best deal possible.

A minor concluding remark to my fellow sales people, DON’T LIE! Don’t allow for misconceptions to form. Be direct and don’t leave room for wrongful assumptions to be formed, even it means correcting the customer. Customers tend to respond more positive with direct sales people that can give a complete and clear picture. Trust leads to transparency which makes the salesperson appear honest hence resulting in higher chances of closing the deal.

I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. What do you think about it? All feedback and comments are welcomed

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