Sales Messages are More Powerful When They’re Honest

I won’t bore you with the gory details, but we are currently in the process of changing our PR newswire service. If this sounds boring, it is – essentially it’s what we use to get our press releases in front of the right…. sorry I fell asleep.

Anyway, I’ve been doing the standard client thing where I listen to sales pitches, get the price and politely thank the person for their insights. Then I say things like “I’ll be in touch”, “Looking forward to seeing you again”, and other comments that offer no real commitment other than potentially being near each other again at some stage in the not too distant future. But then, there was this one guy who used honesty to destroy my politeness and force an outcome. He said,

“You seem like an honest guy – can I ask if you are you going to use us?”

He wasn’t aggressive, or rude, he simply wanted to know exactly where he stood. If I was leaning towards buying, he could focus more effort on me, and if not he could cut me loose and focus on other, more engaged potential clients.

 It wasn’t until later, when I was recounting the story to a friend of mine, that it was pointed out to me the downside of what the salesperson did.

“Rhys, he made you buy something.”

My instant reaction was to defend myself – I hadn’t bought anything, in fact I’d been honest with him and said his product simply wasn’t a good fit for what we were trying to do. But as my friend pointed out, the salesperson had put me in a position of saying “I’ll buy it”,  or “I won’t”. Essentially, making me buy his honesty, and say no, or buy the product. On face value, this seemed like a powerful process that enabled the salesperson to free up their time, but it also stopped me from exploring the option further.  In essence, it empowered me to say no, and maybe too early. I mean, I’d only heard one pitch and I may have got the wrong end of the stick, but now I’ll never know.

Strong communication has its place, but used effectively in the wrong circumstance, it can be a powerful way to destroy opportunities.