Episode #002: Why Your Customers Lie to You with Steven Gaffney
In this Episode of The Buyer’s Mind with Jeff Shore:
How do you know when a sales person is lying? Their lips are moving. Well you know what they say about buyers? Buyers are liars. It seems like no matter which side of the sale you’re on, someone is lying. Why? Jeff interviews Steven Gaffney the author of Just Be Honest and Honesty Works, to help you understand why your customer lies to you.
Topics we’re going to cover on today’s podcast:
- [3:00] Quote of the Day!
- [4:38] Sales tip of the Day
- [7:01] What gets left unsaid
- [9:23] Why do buyers lie?
- [17:27] The problem with confirmation bias
- [22:55] How to deal with liars
- [30:19] What drives people nuts
More about our guest Steven Gaffney:
Steven is the respected author of five books and publications: “Just Be Honest,” “Honesty Works!” “Honesty Sells,” “Guide to Increasing Communication Flow Up, Down, and Across Your Organization,” and “21 Rules for Delivering Difficult Messages.” His newest book, “Be a Change Champion: 10 Factors for Sustaining the Boom and Avoiding the Bust of Change” is due out later this year.
Steven Gaffney is a Certified Speaking Professional™ and a highly respected member of the Million Dollar Speaking Group of the National Speakers Association. He is also a former adjunct faculty member of The Johns Hopkins University, as well as former board member of the Washington, D.C. chapter of Sales and Marketing Executives International.
Links from today’s podcast:
Our sponsor: Home Street Bank
Steven’s E-Mail for an Electronic version of his book Just Be Honest
Jeff: Hey, I’ve got a question for you. Why does your customer lie to you? In today’s episode, we’re gonna learn a great deal about why your customers lie and how you could get them to stop. Stick around.
Man: Welcome to the Buyer’s Mind, where we take a closer look deep inside your customer’s decision making mechanism to reverse engineer the perfect sales presentation. Now, please welcome your host Jeff Shore.
Jeff: Welcome everyone to the Buyer’s Mind where we investigate exactly what is going on in the minds of prospects who are considering a purchase decision, and here’s my take on this. If I understand the way that a buyer wants to buy, if I understand the process by which they make decisions, I can reverse engineer my sales presentation. And that’s what this podcast is all about, taking a stroll through the buyer’s brain, but we’ll have some fun along the way and celebrate this wonderful wacky world of sales. I’m your host Jeff Shore. You can read the full bio in the show notes or you can visit, jeffshore.com, while you’re there sign up for our free weekly video newsletter. A few minutes every Saturday morning to start your weekend off right. And stay with us because we’ve got this amazing contest that’s going along with the launch of our podcast, and I’ll give you those details at the end of today’s episode.
Murph, any thoughts on today’s topic? So it’s an interesting topic, right? Why does your customer lie? This is our show producer, Paul Murphy. What are you thinking Paul?
Paul: Well, yeah. I mean, think about it. I know I go into a home improvement store. People come up and ask me, “Can I help you?” Well, I don’t know if it’s my pride or sometimes, you know, whatever it is. It’s something but my answer is, “No, I’m good.” And then I muddle my way through what I’m looking for. So, yeah, I do lie to salespeople all the time. Mainly because of lack of trust, at least for me.
Jeff: Well, that…I mean, that trust is something that gets earned but isn’t it interesting? We are actively looking for something. Somebody says, “Hey, can I help you?” “Oh, no, I’m good.” Or, “I’m just looking.” It’s a lie. And I don’t know about you but I’ve been in that situation where I find myself saying, “No, I’m just looking.” And then a moment later it’s like, “Dang it. I need some help. Now what do I do?” Right?
So it’s an interesting dynamic and we’re gonna try and unpack it today. It really is one of the trickiest of sales questions, but it’s very interesting because we’ve come to believe that dishonesty is almost a given, that both sides think that the other is gonna lie. It’s hardly the basis for a great relationship. So coming up in just a few minutes, and you’re gonna love this, I’m gonna be speaking with Steven Gaffney whose specialty is honesty, on honest communication. So if we want to figure out why customers lie, we go to someone who is all about the truth, and you’re gonna enjoy it because you’re gonna see so much of yourself and of your customers in the descriptions and definitions. It’s gonna blow your mind. I assure you.
Let me start with our quote of the day here. I got a quote from the philosopher Groucho Marx and here’s what he says, “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” No? No? Okay.
How about this from Noel Coward, “It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” And that’s really true in sales, isn’t it? It’s like the deceit is just accepted as the norm so much of the time. The customer says, “How do you know when your salesperson is lying? When his lips are moving.” And meanwhile, one of the first lessons that we learn as salespeople is, buyers are…yeah, you know the line, liars. I mean, I know it rhymes and all but is that really a healthy mindset?
So if we can’t diffuse this environment of mutual distrust, we’re never going to truly help our customers to accomplish their goals. So we’re gonna have to unpack that today.
We wanted to let you know that this podcast is brought to you in part by our good friends at Home Street Bank. This is not just our show sponsor. This is my lender of choice. I recently used Home Street Bank. It was with my last home purchase, and I gotta tell you, smoothest transaction I’ve ever had and I’ve purchased quite a few homes in my day. They were professional. They were dependable, great rates, great service. And if you’re a real estate professional, you just won’t find better people to work with in taking care of your clients. And these guys can do it all. Banking, home loans, credit lines, anything you need. Go to homestreetbank.com and you can learn more. That’s homestreetbank.com.
Before we get to our interview, we bring you our sales tip of the day. If you wanna build trust, here’s a mental shortcut for you. Be nice. Now, look, I know that sounds simplistic but stay with me on this because there’s some interesting psychology behind it. You see, nice translates as likable. Likable translates as trustworthy. Trustworthy translates as authority, and authority translates as influence. Now, I’ll repeat this, nice leads to likeable, which leads to trustworthy, which leads to authority, which leads to influence.
Look. It shouldn’t work but it does. I mean, think about it. Conmen make a living on this very technique. Do you wanna develop trust? Here’s a psychological hack for you, courtesy of conmen. Conman is short for confidence man, right? The idea here is to build someone’s confidence and then take advantage of them. The only difference between a conman and a professional salesperson is our motives. Our motives are to take care of that customer. So here’s the tip to being nice, there’s two actually, one, be nice. That means you gotta feel it. And then, number two, let your face know. You need to practice good facial posture the second you meet that customer for the very first time. That nice will lead you on the path to authority and influence, and that’s when you have the opportunity to truly help your customer accomplish their goals.
Before we get to our interview, I want to tell you about an opportunity here and that’s to be involved in our 4:2 Academy. Our 4:2 Formula Academy, this is an intensive training program specifically for real estate sales professionals. Where we’re using modern selling strategies and skills just for today’s buyers, just for today’s market. The 4:2 Formula is the core real estate principal that we talk about at Shore Consulting. But it’s gonna give you several days and spread out over the course of an entire quarter a program that will just transform your presentation. We’ve put so many people through the 4:2 Formula Academy always with tremendous results. You can go to jeffshore.com/events to learn more about the 4:2 Formula Academy.
All right. All that said. Let’s get to our interview with honest communication expert and a friend of mine, Mr. Steven Gaffney. Steven, welcome to the show.
Steven: Thanks for having me, Jeff.
Jeff: I’m excited. This is gonna be a great topic. Steven, your area of focus, and I know you’ve written about this in books and in publications. I’ve seen you interviewed on the networks about this topic. Honest communication. Can you start with the back story? I mean, why honesty? What is it about that topic that caused you to make it your life study?
Steven: Great question, because everybody thinks I’m gonna go down the path of truth or lies, that people are lying to us, but, actually, the biggest number one problem, whether it’s in sales, or just relationships, or teams, or whatever the case, is what people just don’t say to each other. So the biggest problem is not what people say. It’s actually what they just leave out. And for salespeople it’s like when you ask somebody what’s their budget and they say, “We don’t have one.” And then you find out later they did. It would have been nice to know, or, how about this one? They say, “I’m the decision maker.” And then you find out they really weren’t the decision maker, or they implied that they are. And the bottom line is we can handle so many things if we just get this unsaid said.
Jeff: But when we think through the conversation between a buyer and a seller, boy, there’s a lot of unsaid. That sounds like you’re asking to unpack a whole lot of stuff right there.
Steven: Absolutely. In fact, there’s four major areas that I see where in a sales relationship often just gets unsaid, but if we can create an environment which we can talk about how to do that to get people to really share what’s going on, we can resolve most of this. So these four areas are about around budget, right? Just what I was addressing before and what the true budget is. And incidentally, one of the interesting things I found about budget is for most items that we might sell, they may not have that line item. So it’s actually really about investment dollars and priorities, rather than what the line item budget really is. But anyway, one is around budget. Second is about decision maker. Somebody implies they’re a decision maker when they’re not. Third is, what’s really important to that decision maker and what their true needs are. And the fourth area is, what is their true buying criteria? So, all of those areas that if we can get that unsaid said, we can make most sales that we really need to make.
Jeff: And yet, right from the very beginning, we’re gonna find ourselves in situations where customers are presenting themselves without saying what is said, and, in fact, going quite the opposite. Even when you look at a retail environment, for example, with, “No, I’m good.” Or, “I’m just looking,” even though I’m actually thinking about buying something. That’s just that little, tiny lie, but then you get the bigger lies where, “Well, I don’t really have a budget,” when they do. So let’s just get to that real big beefy question here. Why do buyers lie?
Steven: There’s three reasons but one major one, and that major one is fear. They’re just afraid to tell the truth. Let me give you an example, or actually, let’s use your example, Jeff. You’re walking in the store. Why do we say, “I’m just looking?” Because we don’t want that salesperson to hound us, so we just lie, or we kind of alter the truth. But the point is that we’re not upfront, and people are not upfront with us often is because we were just afraid.
Another issue is why do people lie about the budget or investment dollars? Because they’re afraid, just like we’re afraid to say that when we’re being sold to, because we’re afraid that if we say whatever the budget is or whatever we’re willing to invest in, that whatever we’re asking for, the salesperson is just going to tell us that that’s how much it costs. And so, we may not get the best deal. So it’s the fear that we’re not going to get the best deal. So one of the top reasons is about…is that we’re afraid and fear, and that’s number one.
Number two is vulnerability and image. So people lie because they just wanna look a certain way. So, for example, it’s really embarrassing to say, “You know what, Jeff? I’m not really the decision maker. In fact, my boss likes to say that I’m the decision maker but I’m not. You’re pretty much wasting your time by talking to me.” Nobody wants to say that.
So they like to massage it, or sometimes the worst lies we tell are the lies we tell ourselves so we can tell other people certain things. And the third area is the reason why people are…they don’t tell us the truth is they’re not motivated to do so. An example would be maybe internal politics within the organization. I don’t wanna share what that is. In fact, I’m motivated to actually not tell you the truth because I wanna get the best deal. So: fear, vulnerability, image, and not being motivated to tell us the truth. The good news is by knowing these causes we can actually address and resolve them.
Jeff: You know, it’s interesting, you have just described me when I walk onto a car lot, right? So I have a fear based on the perception of a salesperson and what I think a salesperson might do to me. I have that self-consciousness about my image because I don’t know a lot about cars, so if you get into a technical conversation you’re going to lose me, so I have to pretend like I’m smarter than I really am. And then, I don’t have a lot of motivation to answer your questions. So when you say, “How much do I wanna spend?” It immediately triggers a red flag to say, “Boy, if I give this guy the true number right now, I’ve just taken away all of my leveraging position, I’m not gonna really be able to accomplish my goals. I’m gonna get taken advantage of.”
So I think you just described the way a lot of people approach a sales conversation right from the very beginning, yes?
Steven: Absolutely. They just get afraid, and, again, the vulnerability and the motivation. But by knowing this, you know, Jeff, we can start to address these issues. For example, there is ways in the sales environment for us to create safety for our potential customers so they’re more willing to tell us the truth. And one of the ways…we can talk about a lot of ways, but one of the ways is for us to be vulnerable first. An example would be, to say quickly in the sales process, “Look, I wanna ask you about your budget investment but I just wanna…before you even answer, I just wanna recognize, look, I’m not trying to burn your budget and I’m not saying you have to commit to any dollars.” I’m not saying, Jeff, that that’s automatically gonna have that buyer or potential buyer tell us the truth, but they’re more likely to tell us the truth if we’re vulnerable and we’re sharing where we’re coming from and getting that elephant out in the room. That’s one way to create some safety is by us being vulnerable first.
Jeff: And that’s…I guess at that point we really are showing our human side or letting them know that this is not necessarily a salesperson talking to a prospect or a target, if you will, but rather, here’s a human being talking to another human being. And if we’re honest about that, if we’re genuine about that and our motives, I think that’s gonna go a long way towards establishing that sense of safety, the opposite of fear.
Steven: Exactly. And here’s another possibility. When somebody says to you, “You know…” They’re just coming…their customers or potential customer is coming hard charging at you, and you’re like, you know, “So why should I do business with you?” And then we start tap dancing, “Let me tell you why you should do business with me.” What a better and more authentic response is, “I actually don’t know if this is a good fit.” Now, people might be listening. Well, is that manipulating the conversation? No. If we’re really honest with ourselves, how do we know it’s a good fit? Maybe this customer is not somebody we really wanna work with. Maybe, actually, our service or our product is not gonna really help them out. How do we know initially we are a good fit? So a more honest response would be, “You know what? I’m not sure I am a good fit, or our service is a good fit for you. Let me ask you a few questions.”
That would be another example of really telling the truth and being more vulnerable in a conversation.
Jeff: You had said that in these four areas where a customer is going to lie to you, or withhold the truth and perhaps not be completely honest: budget, decision maker, true needs, and what their criteria is. Why would they not want to share their criteria? It sounds like such an important part of a buyer’s strategy. If I want to make this purchase decision, then that person…that sales counselor that I’m working with needs to know what I need. Why would they not share their criteria?
Steven: Well, because there might be some other criteria. For example, let’s say budget and…but yet if I tell you it has to hit within that budget, that I’m actually concerned that I might lose a potential, or another option. So, for example, let’s say I was to say this…I have a budget, or one of the criteria is it fits within $20,000, let’s just say. But I’m thinking to myself, “You know, we could probably carve out more.” But I don’t wanna state that we could carve out more because then I’m afraid that you or the salesperson is just going to say, “Look. Well, then that’s how much it really costs.” So if I said 30,000 or if I could find an extra 10,000 they’re going to say, “Well, really our service is 30,000.”
So, there are certain situations. A lot of times I’ve often found out is there’s hidden politics in an organization, and so there’s a criteria called, “I really need to make myself look good in this job that I get a really good deal, so my boss thinks favorably of how I’ve handled this situation and this negotiation.” But I may not wanna say that exactly because it just makes me look bad, or it could make me look bad. So there are certain things, and also, the worst lies are the lies we tell our self, and sometimes I found buyers or potential buyers aren’t really honest with them self about what the true criteria might be.
So in any case, generally speaking, people are gonna be more upfront about it but there are situations where sometimes I have found where what goes unsaid is the buying criteria. And here’s another reason why people don’t share all their criteria, because the salesperson is lousy at asking good probing questions, so what the person initially tells you is kinda their initial thinking but there are other criteria that they haven’t really thought through. But if the salesperson spends more time asking questions rather than transmitting and saying what a great deal or great service they had, that buyer may be more willing to kinda think through and ultimately share their buying criteria, and even hidden buying criteria.
Jeff: Let’s look at this from a different perspective now. Earlier in the podcast I mentioned this weird phenomenon where the preconceived notions are going to affect the way that we communicate. So, you know, you’ve got a buyer who is talking to…you know, here’s a customer shopping for whatever, furniture, jewelry and they’re lamenting with a friend, “Yeah, we’re gonna go furniture shopping.” And here’s my concern. Because you know how you know when a salesperson’s lying, right? When his lips are moving, right? And they make a joke about it. And now here comes the salesperson who is at a sales meeting just before this customer is gonna walk through the door, and the manager is saying, “You know, well, know about buyers, right? Buyers are what?” Everybody says, “Liars. Buyers are liars.” And it’s cute, it rhymes and everything. But here we have this almost combative territory right from the very beginning where each believes that the other is going to lie even before the conversation begins. So how much of this is based on our preconceived notions and what we carry into the conversation?
Steven: It’s a huge part. And you’re talking about mindset. Our mindset dictates our action. So, to your point, if we are skeptical of the other person, if we’re walking into this situation and we think the other person’s going to be lying or not telling us the truth, we’re actually going to be looking for clues that way, and then we’re going to get upset. An example would be…and I do this often in my seminars is I go through a role play scenario where somebody is looking at their watch. The knee jerk reaction is they find me boring, they’re disinterested. Well, that may be, and that’s a clue to pay attention to. But it also could mean they’ve got another call, the meeting…or the meeting is going so well they need to push other calls. Or, how about this one, they just wanna know what time it is.
Steven: But people will read into things and this is where I found by working with all these major corporations in all kinds of capacity, and being a trusted advisor, I found out that people’s preconceived notions really dictates…and that’s where we suffer from, confirmation bias.
Another example would be, we send an email to somebody and they don’t respond. “Oh, they’re not interested.” Or, “Oh, they’re trying to avoid me.” Well, maybe they’re on travel and they forgot to put that in their email. Or maybe they actually saw that in their email box but then it got buried. Or maybe they’re not sure of the answer so they need to do some other things before getting back to you. There’s all kinds of ways to respond, but often when I ask this in a seminar, people’s knee jerk reaction is, “Oh, that person doesn’t respect me. They’re disinterested.” And we read into these, and the problem is then when we’re on the phone with them it’ll impact our tone, and we all know that tone is five times the impact of the words we say. So how we say something is even more important than what we say and that will be affected by our mindset.
Jeff: You know, it’s interesting, I talk to salespeople about this on a regular basis, where if you believe that the customer who walks through the door, if you have a mindset that says, “Well, most people, they’re just looking.” If that’s your mindset, and, now, here comes a customer who walks through the door and says something like, “Well, I’m just looking.” Now what happens? That’s that confirmation bias that you were just talking about. We look for evidences to support what we already believe. So I believe that most people are just looking. The customer says, “I’m just looking.” And now my internal dialogue says, “Oh, great. Another just looking, the whole world is just looking. And I wish we could get some real prospects through the door.” And it changes now, the way that I’m gonna talk to that customer right from the very beginning. And that’s over something as simple as, “I’m just looking.” But what if I believe that my customer is a liar? They’re a buyer, therefore they’re a liar. It changes the way that I see them and I’m actually going to look for confirmation to support what I believe. It’s a horribly unhealthy mindset.
Steven: Absolutely. And there’s three things that I think people can do if they’re saying, “Well, oh, my gosh. I kind of do this.” And oh, before I get to those three things, sometimes somebody will say, “Well, I’m not sure I do this.” And I say, “Well, let me give you an easy experiment. Have you ever thought about somebody and they called you on your cell phone?” And you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t believe it. I thought about them and they called me on my cell phone.” Well, have you ever thought about how many times we thought about that person and they never called us? We see what we want to see. We wanna build that narrative.
So people are saying, “Okay. I got it. What can I do?” Three things, watch our self-talk, right? If we’re saying, “Oh, the customer or whoever, they’re, you know, not to be believed,” or whatever the case may be. Potential buyers, or, you know, people are just looking around and they’re just gonna waste my time. We have to watch our self-talk. Second, visualization. I found successful salespeople and really successful leaders visualize success. It’s more likely to make them successful.
And the third part, which is the big needle mover, is look at who we surround our self by. So that’s where we wanna have good coaches, teachers, and just coworkers who actually believe the things that we want to believe. So an example would be, the last people I wanna hang out with in an organization are people who are skeptical about potential buyers. That’s the last thing I wanna do. What I wanna do is surround myself by people who actually think that, you know, the markets are gonna do great, that people wanna buy all the time, because that will impact my mindset. So often I have found that people of a lousy mindset hang around people of a lousy mindset. But the good news is, you can pick and choose really who you spend the most time with.
Jeff: Yeah. That’s awesome. That is great. Let me ask you this. I’m a salesperson, I’m working with a customer, and they just bold face lie. I mean, it’s not like a little protective white lie. It is like a lie. And I know it, because whatever they’re saying…somehow I have access to a fact here that has confirmed that that’s just a lie. What do I do? How do I handle that? And my guess is that the answer has to come in two different ways. One is, what is my mindset in that environment? And then the other is, what is my technique or my response in that environment? What do you do when you know someone is lying to you?
Steven: Well, Jeff, do you have a good example because it’s easier to take people through exactly what to do because you’re right. This does happen. And, in fact, if somebody says, “Well, I’m not sure it happens.” There was a study done years ago, which I love to quote, that said that 93% of people lie regularly. I actually thing the other 7% in the study lied. Because I think everybody lies.
Steven: And people say, Jeff, that they will, you know, “I don’t lie.” “Oh, yeah,” how about when you don’t share something proactively? And people say, “Well, that’s not a lie.” Well, yeah. It’s a lie of withholding. Think about it this way. Have you ever had somebody withhold some information from you and they had you make an entirely different decision. How do you feel towards that person? We feel lied to. So, for example, if there’s a whole downside of a product or service and the salesperson doesn’t tell us about that downside, we actually feel that the salesperson lied to us, although, technically, they might have not said anything.
Steven: But we just feel what they left out did. But, so there’s ways to confront somebody who has outwardly lied. Do you have a good example we can…and I can talk to you about some techniques about what to do.
Jeff: Sure. Let’s suppose that a customer is out shopping for a home and they’re gonna go visit…they wanna buy a brand new home so they’re gonna go visit several different home building offices. And they go into a sales office. They wanna go visit the model home. They’re talking to the salesperson, and they say to the sales person, “You know, we just came from this community down the street here and we know that they’re giving away $10,000 in free options. Will you match that?” Now, you know, you do your competitive study. You know quite well what the competitor is doing, and you know that that’s just a request for a giveaway to match an offer that does not actually exist. Let’s use that as an example.
Steven: Well, there’s two primary ways on how to handle this. One would be confrontive, which, sometimes there might be a reason, right? So, for example, you…but you can be confrontive in a non-confrontive way. People say, “Well, how can you do that?” Let me give you an example. I could say, “Wow, that’s really interesting. I haven’t heard that and I spend a lot of time researching the market. Can you tell me where because it would be important for me to consider matching this? I just haven’t seen this. So could you give me some more details of the offer?”
So I’m confronting it but I’m turning it into asking a question rather than saying, “Look, I know you’re lying.” Because of course that’s not gonna go anywhere.
Jeff: Right, right.
Steven: So asking a question. The other thing that actually is more kinda overall what we need to do is, remember, whenever somebody gets confronted by a lie or gets backed in a corner, we’ve got to allow them to save face. So I was just…being a trusted advisor to an executive who runs about a billion-dollar business, and I was talking to him the other day and he was sharing about some politics of the organization. And this is even true in an internal example in this case, where he is aware of the facts and he knows some things aren’t being said truthfully. I said, “Look.” And we talked about how to handle it. But I said, “Essentially you want to allow the person to save face. So what’s a way to have them save face?” “Oh, you know, you probably didn’t realize this…but this…or I know you’re moving quickly but actually this is happening.” Or, “Well…” And how I might handle it with this situation, that, Jeff, that you just shared, is I might say, “Well, that’s kind of interesting. I haven’t seen that,” you know, and so.
But a lot of times people will say there is these discounts and they’re offering things, but when you look closer, it isn’t the truth. Did you get a chance to look closer at it? Now, what I’m allowing them to do is actually save face and say, “Well, you know, I don’t really know the details of it but you raise a good point,” when they just made it completely up. So one way is to confront them with a question, the other is to remember it’s so, so important to allow that person to save face, because if we come at them like a prosecuting attorney, we’re gonna lose them, you know, no matter what. And they’re just gonna like…because nobody wants to be embarrassed. So it’s really important to allow that person to save face.
Jeff: Cool. A couple of last things here. What are themes that, I don’t think…I’m not sure that we’ve actually used the word here but it seems to me that it’s a very, very important theme to everything that we’re talking about, and that would be the theme of safety. How important is it for a sales professional to create that atmosphere of safety? Should we be thinking safety because…and I’m…let me tell you where I’m approaching this. Look, I don’t lie to my sister. At least, I don’t think. I probably do now, based on this conversation but, you know, it’s one of those things where I don’t lie to her. She doesn’t lie to me for the most part because there’s this…there’s safety there. I can be honest. I feel like I have permission to be honest when I’m talking to my sister. It’s a safe place. How much should we be thinking about safety?
Steven: Hundred percent because we can’t fix a problem we don’t know about, right? If we don’t get the customer or…and to your point, people use the strategies that I talk about even at home, because it’s a matter of creating that safety. So no matter what the relationship is, and this is what I actually think is the most important is having people feel safe. I work with executives all the time and I say the most important part is to create an environment of safety. It’s more important than vision, mission, all that stuff that you read about in the books. It’s the ability to make people feel safe so you’re not surprised and blindsided. So it’s actually critical to do so. The way to do that…there are many strategies. One of them is for us to be vulnerable as we shared about before. Second is to ask open ended questions and not getting defensive. So that’s where we talked a little bit before, Jeff, where somebody might say, “Well, you know, yeah. There’s other people I need to involve in making the decision.”
So if we don’t get defensive like…and give them the…and come across like, “Well, thanks for wasting my time.”
Steven: Which isn’t gonna help us at all.
Steven: But if we come at it from a peer-to-peer, and I understand these types of things, open ended and not getting defensive. That creates a safety. And the third area that we often forget is to appreciate and reward people when they tell us the truth. It’s really hard. You know, it’s really hard to tell people often what’s really going on in our mind because we’re worried about their reaction. So if they say, for example, the budget is not as much as they first proposed, or the decision, or whatever the buying criteria is…and, ultimately, so they start sharing with us what’s going on. Just say, “Listen, I really appreciate you telling me what’s going on because we’ll somehow try to see how we can make this work. I just want to tell you how much I really appreciate it. Because often in situations it’s easy to kind of not be upfront, and you’re the kind of person I really wanna do work with, and I’m excited as a salesperson, as a business professional to work with customers like you and I appreciate that because we could do some great work together.”
Jeff: Awesome. Great. Hey, a final question, Steven. This doesn’t have to be related to your subject matter but if you want to, that’s fine. When you are a consumer, you’re out shopping for something for you personally. What behavior from a salesperson drives you nuts?
Steven: Oh, there are three in particular.
Steven: Drives me just nuts but also, I’ve learned from executives, the work that I’ve done with executives that drives them nuts. So first one is people not telling what’s really going on, the downside of a product or service. That’s where Jeff is saying, “Oh, you know, this is gonna be really great, and let me just tell you, you know, everything is perfect.” And you find out there are bugs, or there are challenges, or whatever. Where if the person said, “Look. This is gonna be a really great service, but there are some potential issues you need to be concerned with.” That’s really important. Or, how about this, “I just want to be upfront. We are really more expensive than others, and it does cost more, or whatever the investment or whatever, but let me explain why.” So really sharing with people even the downside and that’s really hard for people because people say, “Well, but if I create that downside it’s that negativity.” You know, I found that when you really are upfront with people that they really tend to respect that.
Second is, people not keeping their word, not doing what they say they’re gonna do. You know, I make a habit of calling people exactly when I say I’m gonna call. And I remember I picked up a huge client. You know what she said to me, Jeff? She said, “I trust you.” And I said, “Well, why do you trust me? We’re just getting to know each other.” She said, “Because you called me exactly at the time you said you would call me even though most of the time I wasn’t at my desk. You still did it and you never got upset. You just did what you said you were gonna do, so I knew you would do what you’re saying you’re gonna do with other things.”
And the third area that just drives me nuts and I think drives other people nuts is when people are not proactive about potential issues. And that’s where we say in the middle of maybe the sales process or maybe the service element, “Look, I just wanna give you a heads up. We could actually…we’re saying we’re gonna get that delivered within two weeks, but it actually might be three weeks.” I’m not proactive enough. I wait instead until that two-week mark and then I call you and say, “Jeff, listen. We’re gonna be late on this.”
Well, at what point did I really know this was a potential delivery issue? And probably it was before I waited to the last minute. So those are the types of things that I think really…they bother me and I think they bother a lot of people. The good news is, we can correct that, all around being proactively honest.
Jeff: Oh, boy. That was…Steve, that was amazing. I have a page of notes here that I’ve taken. Just really, really good beefy, meaty stuff here that I wanna process here that’s really outstanding. And just to our listeners, as I was talking to Steve just before we went on the air here he said something that I thought was very generous of him. If you take something that you have just learned from Steven, whether it’s the idea of watching your self-talk, visualization, about understanding mindset, just about honesty, about being human, anything that you’ve used from Steven, if you take something from this and you use it, then he has requested, send him an email. You can send that, email@example.com and it’s with a V. S-T-E-V-E-N, Gaffney, G-A-F-F-N-E-Y. stevengaffney.com. And if you send him an email and tell him what you used, how it worked for you, then he’ll send you an electronic copy of his very first book, his most popular book “Just Be Honest.” So just send an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You could reach Steven at that address, stevengaffney.com, or you can go to justbehonest.com and you’ll learn everything you need to know, great information, just a wealth of information on this really, really interesting subject. Steven, I can’t thank you enough, fantastic information. Thanks for being on the show.
Steven: Thanks for having me.
Jeff: Well, Murph, that was great. It’s really interesting stuff from a very, very interesting guy. And when I look at sort of the big idea from that conversation, it is that the number one reason that people lie is fear. It’s fear-based more than anything else. Murph, did you see that coming? How did that sit with you?
Paul: Well, Jeff, I guess I’m not surprised. We talked about it at the beginning of the show. You know, when I’m in a store and I’m confronted by a salesperson, it’s in that moment that I go, “You know, I’m fine. Thanks.” But it’s when the salesman takes that time to not so much transmit as it is to listen, as he put it, that it allows me that chance to open up and be honest about what my needs are.
Jeff: It was deeply psychological from that perspective, but what was interesting to me was not just the psychology of the consumer, of the customer, what they’re going through, but the psychology of the salesperson, and the question of whether we are transmitting reasons why that customer should not trust us, or in some way, should be afraid of us. And I think oftentimes, that we put on our sales hat. We see somebody come through the door with a customer hat. I have my sales hat on. Or worse, I look and I say, “You know, here’s the…this is the enemy combatant that I’m going up against right here.” Or, “This is my…I am the hunter and they are the prey.” And any of these things are gonna send those messages. And we actually heard this in our first interview with Scott Halford, in very subtle ways we’re gonna be communicating negative emotion. And so, I saw that in the interview very consistently with Steven Gaffney to look at it and say that, “Boy, that’s a real issue here. If I don’t have my brain straight, then I’m probably gonna see the worst that my customer has to offer,” right?
Paul: Right. And if we have that bias that we believe customers are gonna lie to us, then we carry that emotion with us into the conversation.
Jeff: Yeah, that confirmation bias is really deadly, and it’s something that it’s actually hard to identify because we think when we see a piece of evidence that supports the way that we already feel it’s affirming to us. It feels good because, “See? I was right. There you go. I was right all the time.” But what if you weren’t? At that point, you…it’s…you’re taking it as an affirmation, but what it’s really doing is driving you farther away from your customer and putting you in a position where you really can’t serve their needs the best. So that confirmation bias is really…are really critical, and it speaks to the idea that we have to have our head on straight right from the very beginning so that when we approach this conversation with the customer, we are going in fresh, we’re going in with a clean brain. And we can look at it and say, “I don’t wanna transmit anything that would add to the customer’s fear of me.”
If they walk through the door and they’re afraid of a salesperson right from the very beginning, I cannot give them any fodder to try and fuel that fear. I have to take my sales hat off and not see them with a customer hat, but instead look at it and say, “I’m a human being. You’re a human being. I’m willing to be honest. I’m willing to be open. I’m willing to be vulnerable. Let’s talk like two human beings.”
So just really, really great stuff. My thanks to Steven Gaffney on a fantastic interview.
Hey, as we head into the wrap up, just a couple of parting thoughts here. I wanna suggest to you that authenticity is a valuable yet incredibly rare commodity in our society. We want that from our customers, and so here’s my idea for you. Be that yourself. Don’t be nice because you want a sale. Be nice because the person you are talking to is worth it. Don’t ask discovery questions because you want to fast track to the close. Ask because you have a genuine interest in the journey of your customer. Authenticity is beautiful, so be that and watch your customer follow suit.
All right. Hey, at the beginning of this show I told you that there would be a contest, so here you go, listeners. You have the chance to win the Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones. I love these headphones. I wear them when I’m traveling, when I’m listening to podcasts, or when I want really great quality music and just to block out the world around me. And for the winner, you can take your choice of either the over-the-ear, or the noise canceling ear buds. And those ear buds are great, you can listen to the Buyer’s Mind while you’re working out so you get both a physical workout and a mental workout at the same time.
I’m also giving away several Shore Consulting Swag bags. That’s five of my books, a coffee mug, motivational CD, and a bag to carry all of it. And all you have to do is download all of the Buyer’s Mind episodes on iTunes, subscribe to the podcast, and leave a review. That’s gonna take you just about 30 seconds. Then go to jeffshore.com/podcast and click on the contest link. You’ll just enter your email address and the name you used to write the iTunes review, and we’re gonna pick 10 winners from there, 10 lucky people are gonna win the Shore Consulting Swag bag. And remember, the grand prize, the Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones, or the Noise Canceling QuietComfort 20 Ear Buds. Take your pick.
All right. That’s a wrap on our podcast for today. Thanks for listening to the Buyer’s Mind. Hope you enjoyed it. Until next time, go out there and change someone’s world.