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Posted: June 27, 2013

Best of CoBiz: Instant sales karma

Get it by being honest

Liz Wendling

Telling the truth! It sounds like the simplest thing in the world, but being honest with salespeople seems like a real challenge these days. Business owners think salespeople are liars and will say anything to get the sale. But have you ever stopped to think how many times you've lied to salespeople and will say anything to avoid the truth?

How many times have you told a salesperson that you'll think it over with no intention of doing any thinking? Or tell them to call you next week and never pick up the phone when they do? Maybe you even tell them to put together a proposal or send information without any regard for their time spent honoring your request.

Salespeople take the brunt of hostility, deception, and disrespect every day in the marketplace. These professionals suffer with the reputation of being dishonest liars who will say or do anything to close the sale. Let me be clear, I'm not talking about those types of sales people. They exist and unfortunately will be around for a long time. I'm standing for and writing about the sales professionals who wake up every day and attempt to accomplish an honest day's work. The people with great passion for their products, service, ideas, talents and skills and are trying to make a decent living. Honest salespeople exist!

How you treat sales people always comes back to you in the same style, aka sales karma. Karma is the idea that actions you perform today have an impact on what happens to you in the future. If you do a "good" deed today, it will come back in the same way. If you lie to salespeople, your salespeople will be lied to. If you treat another honest business owner with disrespect, you or your company will be on the receiving end of that, too.

That's how karma works.

So, if buyers are lying because they think sales people are lying, how do we undo this vicious cycle? How about we start by telling each other the truth? "Honesty is the best policy" was something I learned in kindergarten. Telling the truth and being honest in sales and business means we never have to worry about the teeth of sales karma coming back to bite.

Many people think it's completely acceptable to lie to salespeople because in their minds they believe all sales people lie. To them, it's perfectly normal to look someone in the eye and lie. They tell themselves they don't want to hurt someone's feelings but the reality is they don't want to feel the emotions of telling someone the truth. If they really cared about someone else's emotions, they would feel awful about pretending to be interested.

Sure, it can be uncomfortable to tell a salesperson "no" but isn't it more uncomfortable knowing you're lying and leading them on?

Business owners please take into account how much time and money is being wasted by not being honest. There is another human being on the other side of the phone or email just trying to make a living. Shoot them straight, be up front and honest. If you're not interested, tell them so they can move. Don't tell them to call you next week, your proposal looks great, I need to think about it and let me get back to you; with no intention of ever talking to them again.

Think about your business. How much more efficient and profitable would you be if they heard the truth from their customers?

Sales karma is at play all day, every day and when you least expect it, it will come back to bite. Make honesty and serving others your top priority, and the good karma will find its way to you and your business.
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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

Thanks Liz for the great article. As a Merchant Services provider, I get hostility with my first contact nearly 80% of the time. I don't blame the business owners. There are a lot of crooks in this industry along with a lot of untrained, enthusiastic newbies that don't know any better. If I can finally break that barrier, I teach my clients how to be informed consumers, what types of options they have, and what I can offer. I pride myself on divulging all fees. I'm amazed at how often I hear that a potential client was flat out lied to, or not told about hidden fees, or just didn't understand what they were getting into. Here is something I'm observing, though: The more confusing the sale, the more effort needed by the the buyer, (at least in this industry compared to others), the more the buyer wants to just put their head in the sand and not deal with the details. So, as good consumers, here are a few tips: 1) Be upfront if you really aren't interested and be prepared for push-back because nearly everyone tells me they aren't interested (just like they tell the 5 other processors that called them that week). 2) Take the time to learn about your purchase rather than blame someone else. (Read the contract before you sign it and ask questions. You can catch a lot from a dishonest salesman if you read the fine print.) 3) If you are going to take the time to learn and the person adds value, reward them with your business or a referral. Remember that their time is also valuable. PS, I used to sell IT services and software and these rules hold just as true. I'm sure there are other industries that also apply. By Lynda Colter-Bergh on 2011 12 18
Liz, you are absolutely right about honesty and transparency in business practices. Once the word gets around about a salesperson's honest business practices, their business will soar. Once a salesperson is dishonest, the word travels--quickly. Thanks for the great reminder about honesty still being the best policy!! By the way, I love your articles and always share them with my staff. Keep them coming!!!! By Susan on 2011 12 10
Glad you jumped on the soap box. You comments are appreciated very true. Every action has a positive or negative reaction. By liz wendling on 2011 12 09
Liz, I'm going to jump on the soap box with you on this topic because understanding karma is so critical to long term mental health and success for individuals and organizations. Karmic principles (origins in Buddhism and Shramanaism) have profound effects on individual and organizational success. We would all benefit by understanding the cognitive and spiritual dissonance that even a simple white lie causes. Every lie, no matter the size erodes trust and if you say you are an honest person, it also erodes self-concept, self esteem and confidence and creates anxiety. Not small stuff. Trust in organizations can be measured and research has shown a direct positive correlation between organizational trust and profitability. The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey covers this well. I'll get off the soap box now. By TC North on 2011 12 09
Love this article. I think I'll send it ahead of every sales call! I think prospects think they are doing salespeople a favor by stringing them along when the opposite is true. It's a much better use of a salesperson's time to close the file and move on to the next potential YES than to chase those not willing or able to tell the truth. Thanks for writing this. I wish you ran a prospect school! By Merit on 2011 12 09
Thanks for the comments. There is nothing finer than feeling good karma come back to you. We can all create it. I appreciate your feedback. Liz By liz wendling on 2011 12 08
And, the truth is that research and time are required before a sales target the sale with the need. These times make all of us sharper. Some of the best conversations if a sale doesn't work come from the honesty of a good dialogue, a lead to new opportunity, and making meaningful connections. Great article, and great way to show the other side the story! By Events Submit on 2011 12 08
What goes around... Great article Liz! There's a saying in real estate: "Buyers are liars," and while that may be the case sometimes, sellers of the "Never take no for an answer" variety are partially to blame. Until these old-school sellers learn to differentiate between a valid "no" and a "I need help making this decision" they will continue to make it harder on the rest of us. By Julie Hansen on 2011 12 08
Well said Liz! I must admit, I too have been guilty of stretching the truth a bit….ok maybe I have even told some lies to wrap up a sale. I was certain the buyer would realize the benefit before he realized I chopped down the cherry tree. Undoubtedly, the sweet taste of short term success was quickly forgotten and the bitterness can linger indefinitely. Thanks for your "insight" By Sig on 2011 12 08
Right on, sista'!!!! Selling is a noble profession. Nothing in business happens until there is a sale. Thanks for reminding us that what goes around,comes around. By Kathryn Severns Avery on 2011 12 08
I love what you have to say about this Liz, because it's true in all of life's endeavors: the way you treat others always comes right back to you in one form or another. Funny, we humans don't always learn this lesson right away, but once you start employing the "do unto others" mantra you'll notice a huge shift in your business . . . and your life! By Events Submit on 2011 12 08
Another great article Liz! "Make honesty and serving others your top priority, and the good karma will find its way to you and your business. " I have really been working on this with my employer and how we interact with our clients and other offices. By Tim on 2011 12 08
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