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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Secret Sales Technique: Lie

This past week, I've run across two separate examples of the EvilsOfSales.

One is the implementation of the classic bait and switch scam.  From mattress sales to office products, the act is still alive and kicking.

The other comes to us from the IT side of selling.  Specifically, a 'top secret' technique proven to get you around a 'gatekeeper' and into the wanting bosom of the 'decision maker'.

If your mouth is watering just thinking about getting a super-secret way around that gatekeeper - stop reading and leave now.  If you see nothing wrong with 'stretching the truth' in order to create a target-rich environment of prospects, leave and take your carpetbag full of yesteryear's sales mysticism with you.

That these activities occur, shouldn't surprise anyone.  Especially those of us who sell - and everybody sells. How many sales training courses have you been through that are nothing more than process and machinery?

What sticks in my craw is that these practices and I am sure others like them, are implemented and recommended institutionally.  Sleight of hand is considered a legitimate selling function - salespeople are expected to cheat customers and maneuver around people. This is old-fashioned, phony baloney, plastic banana, carpet-bagging swill.

Doubling Meanings and Plausible Deniability-

Example number 1, submitted for your approval, is from a telemarketing company specializing in the MSP vertical, espousing an example on how to get around a Gatekeeper.

"...the solution we developed was to approach the gatekeepers with vague phrases like, “I am calling back for Mr. Jones." The difference this style can make is one of the double meanings and plausible deniability, which means that if you have called for this prospect before, then you are literally ‘calling back’ for them..."

So what is the 'top secret' recommendation for getting to the decision-maker? In a word, Lie.

I kid you not, some poor soul is going to pay for this curriculum.

Déjà vu, the taste is familiar, isn't it?  Like tequila after that one night in college - you drank too much, prayed to the porcelain god while your best friend held your hair, remember that?  Tequila was never the same again.

That's the response these types of advisories illicit - and if you don't feel uncomfortable in the least if you believe that building a relationship based on a lie is the best way to prosper - stop reading and leave.

You and I are not that naive to believe sales 'techniques' haven't been employed or are not effective.  I can say that BOTH sides of the selling equation dodge, duck, and jab at each other.

I've seen it, I've done it. It won't work the same way for much longer...

There's more...there is always more...

Operation Market Basket -

The second occurrence is from Staples.

Now I know what you're thinking, if you hire high school kids to man the isles, what kind of talent are you employing in the first place?  Malleable.

Here's the juxt:  Staples places ads in the local newspaper for a specific laptop.  The price point is designed low enough to attract people into their stores.  Staples training, in some locations, instructs each rep to sell "additions" to these specially priced items: extended warranties, mousepads and the like, or NOT AT ALL.  If the customer doesn't opt for any add-ons or up-sells, don't sell them the unit.

Each rep is expected to hold an average of $200.00 in add-ons.  This internal system is referred to as "Market Basket".

The complaints go like this - consumer spots an ad for a laptop, shows up to purchase said laptop, asks if the unit is in stock - indeed it is - and is immediately thrown into the 'up-sell process.  When the consumer refuses any additional items, the laptop in question, upon further review, is now not in stock.  It's a mystery and as all good salespeople know, '...where there is a mystery, there is margin..." - gag.

Article here.

B2B sales are NOT retail, but your customer doesn't see the difference.  The poor schmoe who had his  Saturday morning ruined by the sales schlep at Staples is the same IT guy you have a meeting with on Tuesday - he's going to roll you right into the same ilk.  How's that going to work for ya?

So What?

What have the selling classes been teaching generations of salespeople to do on a daily basis?  What have we willingly, in some cases desperately and happily consumed, over and over again?
They've taught us how to, Lie.

Lie in Print.

Lie on the internet.

Through your teeth.

To the person on the other end of the phone.

Lie to your friends, family - and especially - to yourself - as long as you move "5 boxes", "place 4 bodies" or "secure 25 appointments" this month.

"Lie" yourself into believing you're a professional, in a profession.  Rationalize away that oily feeling you carry home every night. Keep telling yourself, 'every NO brings me closer to a YES'

Keep buying those books, listening to podcasts, and reading the internet - anything you can do to keep that voice in your head buried deep.  The little voice you've been trained to ignore. That voice that use to say, "this is wrong".

For most salespeople, the voice is still there.

There are more people who feel the old selling models deserve the circular file.  From quotas, commission structure, cold calls, and mission statements: there is a better way.
  • There are more and more experts who believe cold calls are a waste of time.
  • There is a movement in sales championing fewer outside salespeople.
  • There is a belief that selling doesn't really need to be about manipulation.
  • There are those who know the 80/20 rule need not be.
  • I think Selling Professionals shouldn't work FOR a company but could work WITH more than ONE company.
What can you do?
  1. Stop lying to yourself.
  2. Start questioning the existing model - to yourself.  Ask why.
  3. Keep an eye out for new kinds of sales mentoring and a new Professional Selling approach.  Today, there are a few contrarians in the field - in the next 24 months, there will be many more.
  4. Ask your existing clients why they decided to engage with you...personally.
It is time to rediscover Professional Selling - we've moved from offering "clicks" to "sharing ideas", our ways of communicating must move as well.

I don't see a disruption in the selling methodology, I see the demolition of the ecosystem.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated