Little White Lies

“You’re the only person looking at this project.”
“I’ll have both decision makers at the meeting.”
“I don’t know what my budget is.”

We have all heard theses little white lies from time to time and probably are hearing them more often than we would like. The fact of the matter is that an average American can tell a whopping 26 lies per day (Source: 2000 census). Imagine you have a morning sales appointment with a husband and wife team. Combined, they have up to 52 lies ready and waiting for you.

Most people don’t mean to tell white lies, but they do. Buyers are liars and the quicker you accept this fact the easier it will be for you to survive today’s selling game. Today’s sales environment is exceedingly difficult. Your potential customers may tell you little white lies that often turn into big fat red ones.

The American public has learned how to deal with typical sales people who over-promise. You know the script for these “professionals.” It includes lines like, “Let me give you my contractor’s discount.” What a classic!

When pressed for a sale their self defense mechanism engages and they go into full defense mode. They fill the sales person up with hope and promise, to avoid telling them the honest truth that they cannot afford to pursue the project.

The sales person hears what he wants to hear, feels wonderful that he is finally close to sealing the deal. Days go by and the homeowner composes a well-crafted e-mail (This is a real e-mail. The names have been changed to protect the innocent):


It is with not a modicum but rather immense disappointment that I write you now. Because of events and circumstances beyond my control, but that which relate to the matters of family, there are exigencies which preclude this project progressing forward, currently, if ever in my foreseeable future. Were these matters to change diametrically, only then would I feel the confidence to embark upon such a significant commitment (which I had been looking forward to) with you.

For ALL the inconveniences that I have caused to you and Phil, and if there would be any sense or misunderstanding that my initial interrogatories with you were anything other than sincere, I apologize deeply, and with the humblest regret.

Best regards to you and yours,

Dealing with the truth can be hard, but it’s always good to know exactly where you stand with your customer. Many sales meetings can end with a clear vision of the future by actively dealing with the truth. My past columns have mentioned using meeting agendas and having all the decision makers present at a meeting. These tools help develop the path to the truth. We are in an extraordinary time which demands extraordinary measures.

When you or your staff are helping your customers buy from your company you must uncover the homeowner’s hidden agendas and their underlying motivation. Finding the agenda behind the agendas will provide your sales team with the direction they need to help close the deal. Selling is all about creating a mutually beneficial deal between two parties. It is not about creating a mutual mystification ordeal. Lies and deception produce contempt and criticism which leads sales people to externalize their weaknesses. Dig for the truth by asking probing questions within a casual conversation and never let them see you sweat.

We all lie once in a while for countless reasons, but if you keep telling yourself little white lies about how well you sell, when will you have time to deal with the big fat red lie?