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“All prospects lie all the time” is one of my favorite Sandler sayings.  It often triggers resistance from people new to the Sandler Selling System.  After all, we want to believe in the inherent goodness of mankind, and it’s a sin to lie, right?  Of course, when I ask people about their own buying behavior, it becomes clear that misleading on purpose (i.e. lying) is always part of the process.


Think about the last time you walked into a store on a mission to buy something.  You knew your target and your decision criteria.  You had every intention of accomplishing your mission.  Yet, when the friendly salesperson asked, “May I help you?”  You responded,  “No.  Just looking.”   And that was only the first of many lies to come.

In a recent post on Sales Machine, Geoffrey James lists the 10 most common lies customers tell as follows:

  1. “We can’t afford it?”
  2. “I’m not in the office.”
  3. “Our bidding process is fair.”
  4. “Your competition is cheaper.”
  5. “I’m sorry I missed our meeting.”
  6. “I am the decision-maker.”
  7. “We always get a discount.”
  8. “I will read your brochure.”
  9. “I am away from my desk now.”
  10. “The check is in the mail.”

Perhaps you can relate to these, or even add a few of your own to the list.  So,why do customers lie to salespeople?  According to James it all comes down to a lack of connection.   The thought that selling is something we do to other people.  Active things like probing, convincing and persuading create resistance.  The salesperson has broken a social contract.   To repair it, the salesperson needs to practice the art of listening.

However, beyond simply connecting with prospects through listening, the professional salesperson must realize that there is an entrenched buying system in place that includes strategies and tactics prospects use to reinforce this lack of connection and keep sales conversations intellectual.   The social contract is broken on both sides, but it’s the salesperson who must take responsibility for fixing it.I wholeheartedly agree that good human relations skills and listening are of primary importance in successful selling.  That’s why every step in the Sandler Selling System is undergirded by proven and effective human relations models.

Following a system that restores the balance of respect and dignity between salesperson and prospect ultimately leads to mutually satisfying buying decisions.  Are you feeling beaten up by clients who use the typical misleads on you?  Do you have a case of the “hopa-hopa’s” waiting for clients to return calls and make decisions that they’ve promised, but haven’t delivered on?

Are you willing to look at what you can do to change the interpersonal dynamics in your sales process, rather than accepting worn-out traditional approaches and the problem behaviors that go along with them?  What will you do differently today to break the cycle of lies and mistrust?


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