The truth about liars
(MoneyWatch) Here's a riddle: What are the three times in life it is acceptable to lie? When you are an actor in a play, when you are bluffing in poker and when you are giving objections to a sales person.
Overcoming objections is especially difficult because prospects think it is perfectly okay to play it fast and loose with the truth. Let's look at the liars, half-truth-tellers, "concealers," and the delusional hopeful, whose greatest sin is that they lie to themselves first and then repeat it to us.
I don't have science behind me and I am not a poker expert that can read tells. I do, however, tend to think there are some indicators when the conversation is not completely truthful and those hints are worth watching for.
Over claims. Promises are too big for the person's position in the company or role in the project. Beware the overzealous prospect. They make claims that they can approve the deal because they are afraid you'll move past them and leave them out of the discussions.
Wait-and-see. When someone is delaying the timeline in a buying process he or she defined, it's not a great indicator of honesty. I have found that in these circumstances the person is often checking pricing with the incumbent vendor or negotiating with my biggest competitor while keeping me on the hook.
Too-good-to-be-true. "Price is not a major factor in this decision." "We're not considering any other providers." "We're going to bypass the normal testing phases and put this into full production." I've heard all of these and later in the process not one of them turned out to be true. Was the person lying? Let's say no. But I think she had convinced herself of something that in the end she should have known was not going to be true.
If, then. As in, "...if you just lower your price 11 percent, then we will make the decision right away..." only to find out this was a gambit in a list of demands. This liar is seductive because he preys upon our sense of urgency, and causes us to act as his agent in negotiations within our own firm. The "if, then" liars proceed to blame other forces within their firm, for further delays and heretofore unmentioned requirements, as a means to repeat the "if then" game to win even more concessions.
When I see these types of red-flags, I push. I think a mixture of self-confidence, raw curiosity, and authenticity can get you closer to truth, regardless if the person will tell you the truth or not. The biggest push is raw curiosity -- ask the questions that are uncomfortable. It always surprises me how often we don't ask the questions we know we should because we are afraid of the answer. As if by not asking the question, the answer doesn't exist.
Some of those tough questions can include:
Why are you considering making a change at this time?
What is the exact threshold of performance improvement that has to be achieved for us to win this business?
Who has the greatest amount to lose in your company if you agree to do business with us?
Since you are delaying the decision for 30 days, what specifically will change during that period to enable you to make a better decision in 30 days?
If you made the decision today and went with our firm, what is the biggest thing that could go wrong? Who would be the first to point it out?
This is not the climatic scene of this week's episode of "Law and Order" ("ripped from today's headlines!"), but rather a hunt for information that will help you overcome the real objections. And that's the truth.
Image courtesy of Flickr user rvw
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