What changes in your organisation would create the greatest advantage for you?


The cost of getting the selection wrong is at least three, if not seven times salary

Coach or Train

What skills do your people need to make the greatest sustainable improvement?

Spot the Lie

It’s relatively easy to discover if they lack the money, have no need, aren’t in a hurry, don’t have the authority to decide, or fail to see that your product or service has any value for them. It can be more difficult to ascertain whether the prospect likes you, your product or service, really wants a solution after all, understands what you have to offer, or is even willing to tell you the real reason.

How might you be able to tease out the answers to these questions?

Do your prospects like you?

One of the things about sales people is that they have a “thick skin”. They have to in order to protect themselves from the countless rejections that they will experience in their careers. Of all the sales calls they make, only a fraction will convert into buyers. What that means is that the signals that might appear obvious to anyone else could be overlooked by a salesperson. They could consider is to be nothing more than part of the resistance that they’ve come to expect.

If you think about it, then you know when your personality “clicks” with someone else’s.

Part of it is in body language. Sometimes it comes from how long the meeting actually turns out to be. People who get on really well can talk together for hours; even if they’ve only just met. Probably a safe bet is to assume that your prospectsdon’t like you unless you’re given solid proof to the contrary. The problem is that salespeople tend to believe the opposite, and that opinion is their downfall because it leads them to relax before they should.

What’s the lie? A big grin coupled with over-acting. Some people seem too glad to see you; and that’s probably because they’re not.

Do your prospects like your company or product?

This is only an issue if you’re a salesperson for a company that you don’t own or are selling someone else’s products. If you work in a company, then there should be records on past customers. These should include kudos and complaints – basically a full service history. If such a thing doesn’t exist, then you’d do well to create one. It will come in handy, not just for you, but also for those who sell after you.

If you’re selling the product of another, then records should be available on whether or not your prospects have ever used them. This may be more difficult to determine. There seems to be quite a number of companies who either don’t have this information or won’t release it to you. You may have to do some research on the Internet; but then you should be doing this anyway as part of your preparation for the sales call.

What’s the lie? Listen for a contradiction between how much knowledge your prospects have about the characteristics of your product or service, and how much they’re willing to admit they know about yours. There will be things that make yours unique. If they’re truly ignorant of what you offer, then they won’t know; but you see, people like to show off, and so the liar is likely to let this knowledge slip without realizing it.

Do your prospects want a solution after all?

You would be on safer ground if you assumed that they didn’t, regardless of what they said on the phone or in person. Some people simply want to stay on top of what is available. Others want to validate that the status quo is still the best way to do things. But if you act on the basis that they have ulterior motives by talking to you at all, then it’s less likely that you’ll presume something that you shouldn’t.

What’s the lie?  You can pretty much depend on the fact that your prospects are doing or have done their homework. You’re probably not the first person they’ve talked to about this issue. They will take the best parts of what you offer and combine it with the best bits from all of the others to come up with their idea of an ideal solution; and then they’ll try to play those on their short list off against each other. So any references made to the idea that you’re at the top of their list of suppliers should be taken with a pinch of salt. It won’t be safe to let down your guard until the ink dries on the contract.

Do your prospects understand what you have to offer?

The best way to get your prospects to understand what you have to offer is to make sure at the beginning that you understand their problem. It’s easy for us to see what we think is a natural fit, and maybe it is; but if your prospects aren’t convinced that you’re empathetic to it, then there’s no chance that they will see how the two are related.

What’s the lie? Most people don’t want to admit that they don’t understand. They’ll hem and haw, or listen quietly. The lie, if you like, is that they’ll pretend to understand by not asking any questions. Instead, they’ll nod in agreement, and say “mmmhhmmm” once in awhile, just so you know that they haven’t gone to sleep.

You can get them to reveal their hand by checking to make sure that they’ve understood what you said. Figure out in advance what questions you can ask them that will tell you if they’ve been paying attention. The first time they’re made to think in the conversation, you can bet that they won’t allow themselves to be caught out again. It will make you more interesting to them, too, since hardly anyone does this.

Do your prospects have an unspecified reason not to buy?

You know what this looks like. You can’t get a straight answer. Or whenever you attempt to go down one path, you’re thwarted with what seems like a pre-prepared objection.

What’s the lie? It could be a lot of things. You may never find out.

Some humility is required here. You need to give your pitch and answer their questions, but don’t force it. There will be a point in the conversation where there is a natural lull, the pace will drop, and if nothing has happened, then that’s your cue to sum up. You may even say that, “I can see that you don’t want to make a decision right now”. Then thank them for their time, and get out of there.

The fact is that when prospects are ready to buy, you won’t be able to mistake it; so back off.

There are probably other lies that your prospects will tell, and you won’t be able to spot them all; but if you’re prepared for these five, then you won’t be wrong-footed when they occur. In fact, you’ll probably have to discipline yourself so that you don’t smile at an inopportune time. If that should happen, however, and your prospects ask you why, then allow yourself to grin. Tell them, it’s nothing, and that you were just thinking of something, and then let them wonder.

It might drive them crazy not to know.


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