A “little white lie” is one that is about a small or unimportant matter. White lies are told to please or appease another person and are viewed, by some, as an innocent part of everyday interactions.
Little white lies that sellers tell buyers include:
- I’ll only take 15 minutes of your time
- This is not a sales pitch, and I’m not trying to sell you anything
- Your boss (CEO, friend, etc.) suggested that I give you a call
- I’m following up on your inquiry
- I’ll call you back in 2 weeks
- We will reduce the price just for you, just this once
- Yes, we can do that
Here’s the problem. To buyers, these don’t feel “little” or “innocent.”
Why Bending the Truth Makes You Untrustworthy
Maybe it’s because the standard for sellers is higher. We’re up against the negative stereotypes associated with Glengarry Glen Ross style selling. Buyers expect sellers to lie and hold it against them when they do. Little white lies are magnified by negative perceptions and low expectations. It may not be fair, but at least it’s clear. You can’t afford to lie to buyers.
Buyers have been disappointed by sellers in the past. They have been deceived, and they didn’t like it. They want to trust you, but you’ve got this hurdle (albeit an unfair one) to clear. You won’t clear it if you leave any doubt in the buyer’s mind about your trustworthiness.
Bending the truth, even a little bit, raises concerns. It’s those stereotypes and the buyer’s past experiences that make this so extreme. The little white lies you might get away with in your family or with friends will not be as acceptable to your buyer.
Thinking you won’t get caught or that you can talk your way out of it? Don’t count on it. Buyers are watching, waiting and unforgiving. In the research we did with 530 B2B buyers (reported in the book Stop Selling & Start Leading), over one-third of open response comments from buyers were specifically linked to sellers who didn’t follow through on their promises and commitments or otherwise breached a buyer’s trust.
Hoping you’ll make the sale and move on before you get caught? Also not a good strategy. Your reputation will precede you. The last step in the modern buyer’s process is to review a purchase. Empowered buyers talk to each other. You’ll lose repeat and referral business, and this could injure your company’s brand, too. It’s just not worth it.
Buyers, in their relationships with sellers, have very little to go on. That’s why these negative perceptions and low expectations are over-weighted. It’s why buyers seem so harsh in their rejection of sellers when they perceive even the smallest hint of untruthfulness.
The Importance of Critical Thinking Skills: Buyers See Truth as an Absolute
Here’s where things get tricky.
It’s not just that you have to tell the truth. It’s that you have to understand what the truth is and how to represent it. For this, you’ll need good critical thinking skills.
This wasn’t always the case. Just a decade ago, the word “truth” was universally defined as that which is verifiable, indisputable, absolute, and factual.
Nowadays, things have gotten fuzzy. People talk in terms of “my truth,” “his truth,” or “your truth” instead of THE truth. Critical thinking is, in part, a quest for the truth.
Truth is not the same as beliefs, experiences, feelings, or perspectives. Each of those are separate and unique. Truth, though, is sacred and unchangeable. It deserves respect. Buyers expect you to know this and abide by it.
Blurring the lines is lazy thinking. Truth gives us a universal and common standard and a way to connect. We need a unifying force like truth. And we need to seek the truth in come together and have sensible, connecting discourse.
Use your mental might to pursue the truth. Don't get derailed by artificial substitutes!
Next Steps for Eradicating Lazy Thinking
This is part eight in the series of posts about why and how to build critical thinking skills you can use to excel in selling. Be sure to bookmark the CONNECT2Sell Blog or subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you won’t miss these posts. Each one offers additional ways to build your mental might. If you want to go back and catch up on the ones you’ve missed, just click on this link.