Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Lied To

Salespeople and product managers get lied to by prospects because the prospect fears their judgement will be questioned. Or so posits Seth Godin.

I believe Seth is correct. How many times, when dealing with a salesperson selling a product you’ve decided not to buy, do you receive the following responses:

  • Did you consider that my product does X+1, while the product you’ve selected only does X?
  • Analysts have proven that the Total Cost of Ownership is 10% lower with my product. Would you like me to forward the study?
  • We’re in the Gartner/Forrester/Yankee/SomeGuyWithABlog magic quadrant and that product isn’t.
  • Are you sure your company/boss wants to take that risk?
  • I respect your judgement, but let me… [tell you why you were all wrong]
  • How was the decision made, so I can help you unmake it?
  • Can I talk to your boss about this?

All the above usually come from some “overcoming objections” training that the offending salesperson has taken. And all of the rejoinders are based on one key assumption.

You have bad judgement.

None of us ever wants to hear that, even when we know we made the right decision. Yet when the salesperson falls back on those “overcoming objections” responses, they are judging us with incomplete information.   And being judged unfairly is very painful to us.

So we lie about what we did to avoid the possibility of being unfairly judged. Now communication breaks down.

How will the salesperson or product manager ever know the real reason their product wasn’t selected, so that they can do better? How will that commercial relationship work the next time the prospective customer has a need?

What can you do? First, as I believe, assume goodwill. Start with telling the truth about the choice:

I simply changed my mind.

In my judgement, the other thing was better.

It didn’t feel right.

The other price was better.

I don’t know. I just don’t trust you.

Let the chips fall where they may. Even if the other person doesn’t agree with your decision, they can at least respect your honesty.

Takeaway. Don’t like being lied to? Don’t second guess others’ judgement. It’s easier in the long run.

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3 Responses to Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Lied To

  1. Pingback: Strategic Guy» Why Sales Prospects Lie

  2. Hmmm…so you lie to sales reps because you don’t like your decision questioned? And then you put the blame back on the sales rep?

    OK, I could see this for a rep that has failed to build a relationship with you. However, for a rep (or existing vendor) where a connection is in place this rationale simply doesn’t stand up. There is an expectation of honesty in a relationship, even if it is something the other person doesn’t want to hear.

    I provide more insight in this blog post which, in full disclosure, calls you out:

    I’m sorry Mark for the candor in my disagreement. It is just me being honest.


  3. markpilip says:

    Well, I actually don’t throw the blame back on the sales rep.

    The fear of being judged is something we all–to some degree–have in us. I don’t blame the salesperson for that fact. In fact, what I’m trying to say is that I’ll take the lead here and be honest with my feedback. Yes, that will open me to those overcoming objections arguments that take my judgement to task. But I think that’s OK. It does ultimately end with more honesty.


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