by Jeff Shore
“We’re just looking.”
“We’re only interested in the lowest price.”
“I can get better terms from your competitor.”
“Let me think about it and get back to you.”
Lies. All lies. Well, most of the time anyway.
But why? These people look like fine, upstanding and morally coherent individuals. Why would they lie to me?
Try looking at it from a different perspective. Why do you lie?
You do, of course. You have surely found yourself in a store somewhere, browsing amongst the merchandise, when a well-meaning salesperson asks, “Can I help you”? And instinctively, as if on auto-pilot, you blurt out, “No, I’m just looking.”
‘Fess up. Was that a lie? Have you ever said, “I’m just looking” when you were really thinking of purchasing something?
Of course you have. We all have. I personally find myself saying, “I’m just looking” and then immediately say to myself, “Dang – I needed help; now what do I do”?
That just looking statement is an auto-response.
It is also a lie.
The Anatomy of a Lie
I posed this question to an expert on a recent podcast recording. Steven Gaffney specializes in this sort of thing, working with organizations on increasing honesty in communication. I asked him straight up – why do customers lie.
Gaffney suggests that the core issue is not moral depravity but rather fear. Customers lie because there is an underlying fear issue.
A perceived lack of safety brings fear. A lack of trust bring a lack of safety.
We don’t tend to lie to people in safe environments, nor do we lie to people whom we trust.
But consider this all-too-common sales question: “What’s your budget”?
What are the chances that you’re going to get a truthful answer? If there is a lack of trust the chances of an accurate response are approximately 0.0%.
3 Ways to Increase Trust (thus Increasing Safety, thus Increasing Honesty)
1. Get Over Your Cynicism
The oft-used phrase, “Buyers are Liars” is catchy and all, but it is mentally dangerous to the sales professional.
The saying goes that we find what we are looking for. Expecting to find the worst in your customer’s character? You will. You’ll be dead wrong, but you’ll be happy about that.
Cynicism might feel good for a short time, but it is really just a form of passive aggressive behavior that produces no benefit to anyone.
Start there – protect the valuable real estate between your ears. Choose to see the best in the people around you.
2. Stop judging
Remember that you, too, have a tendency to lie to salespeople. Does that make you a horrible person? No! It makes you a normal person. You need to trust before you will offer the gift of honesty.
So why take it out on your customers. Simply recognize the fact that the core issue is one of fear, not ethical bankruptcy.
Stop making moral judgments. Instead, ask yourself what must be done to increase an atmosphere of trust, such that lying will no longer be a viable tactic.
3. Practice Trust-Building Behaviors
Let’s get this much straight; this is on you. The onus is yours to build an environment where honesty is deemed safe.
You must make a unilateral decision to practice habits of kindness, service, and your own integrity (do what you say you’re going to do).
In other words, you need to create an environment where dishonesty serves no purpose.
Here’s the good news. Your customers want to be honest. They long for an atmosphere of trust. They need to share their story and all the juicy details.
Create an honest space. Trust me – you’ll change their world.