Striving for Sincerity: Why We Need Honesty in Sales

Why do so many salespeople abandon honesty and resort to deception tactics to get a meeting?  Despite the frustration, Jeff Van Fleet, Lighthouse’s President and CEO, thinks we can all learn a very valuable lesson from them.

The vast majority of sales messages I get aren’t even relevant to me.  But, what really bothers me is when we get phone calls and the salespeople are downright rude.
But I also realize that I’m in sales too.  I am constantly thinking about how we can get the attention of prospective clients—but always in a genuine manner that shows them the truth of who we are.

Don’t you just “love” it when people try to sell you something?  I don’t know about you, but I get between 100-150 emails and 10-20 phone calls per day from people trying to sell me something.  I’ve spoken about this very subject in the past—but it really is overwhelming!

Even worse, the vast majority of the messages I get aren’t even relevant to me.  But, what really bothers me is when we get phone calls and the salespeople are downright rude.  Thank you for our Executive Admin, Anna!!  She is a godsend—going toe to toe with these callers every day!

(By the way, If you’ve tried to reach me with a stupid sales trick like pretending to know me, lying about losing my cell phone number, or disrespecting Anna, please call me back.  I’m at extension 201.  I want to have a few words with you!)

But as much as that bothers me, I also realize that I’m in sales too.  I am constantly thinking about how we can get the attention of prospective clients—but always in a genuine manner that shows them the truth of who we are.

We want every person we talk with to know that we are dedicated, honest, and fun.  We want them to understand that we are here to help them (frankly, we’re trying to help the entire software industry)!  That’s why we run Executive Roundtables and webinars, why we speak at tradeshows, and why we blog each month.

To ensure our team remembers our principles, I recently sent them the following note:

Dear Lighthouse Client Success Team,

I will tell you that most of the marketing and sales calls I get are not about me or Lighthouse—they are about the seller.  Even worse, most show me that the salesperson (and by association, the company they represent) cannot be trusted.  They lie to get their way into a meeting.  This is a bad approach; and even if I did give them a meeting, as soon as I found out that they lied to get it, I will end the conversation and ensure I never do business with them. 

Anna has to put up with the majority of these calls, and most of them aren’t pretty.  Callers are impersonal, unprofessional, uninformed, misleading, and sometimes even rude to her.  I asked her what percent of sales professionals were honest and prepared with a value-based offering.  She said “about 1 in 50!”  This is a real shame, and it’s the reason that nobody likes being called by sales people.   

To overcome this problem, it’s imperative that all of our communications (email, voicemail, and face-to-face) continue to emphasize to our prospects that:

  • We are genuine
  • We believe we have something that can really help them
  • We have the highest integrity (this will eventually lead to trust)
  • We appreciate their challenges and the impact they can have—both on their business and on them personally
  • Be sure to give them some value; maybe an example of something we’ve done for a similar company or invite them to a free webinar
  • Remember that we don’t know if we can help them until we ask questions.  As you know, we can’t help everyone.  Our offerings aren’t always a good fit.  Even if they are, we might have a cultural mismatch.  So, given the opportunity of having a meeting, we must listen intently.

No matter if we’re selling, networking, or just sending an email, we have to be extra diligent to be honest, forthcoming, straightforward, and genuine with every prospect and Executive Assistant we speak with.

Keep having fun,

I’ll bet you receive your fair share of these sales calls.  Whether they come at home, in the office, or elsewhere, I know they are frustrating and a waste of time.  And while their methods aren’t likely to gain your trust—they serve a valuable purpose: reminding us of the value of sincerity.  I hope you find it as refreshing as me when you get a call from a real sales professional who comes prepared, knows the value they can provide, cares about your best interest, and takes the time to listen.

Who knows?  Maybe our collective support of sincerity will get all salespeople to come around.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I’d love to hear from you on this topic!!  What approach do you like?  … hate?  How is our Lighthouse team doing?

P.S.  Literally, while I was writing this blog, I received a call on my cell phone.  The caller wasn’t even a real person.  It was a recording.  Hmmm…

Keep having fun,

Jeff Van Fleet
President & CEO
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc.
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Diana Tullio October 26, 2017, 10:46 pm

    I remember having a conversation with you about this same topic a couple of years ago after I wrote a blog post about the ridiculous tactics that salespeople have tried to get a meeting with me. My favorite one was asking me if I had been eaten by alligators as a reason for not returning their emails and calls. While humorous, it still didn’t get me to respond. I’m not a fan of the cold call at all. Those put all of the work on me it seems.

    You asked me at the time what would work, since I so irreverently shot down most popular sales tactics. I think my response was something like, “Kind of what you and Lighthouse do!” First and foremost, you lead with reputation. You have become a trusted resource through working around me in the community and faithfully with others I talk with before you ever tried to get an engagement with me. I think by the time we worked together, I was seeking you out and not the other way around.

    The value of a strategic partner (not just another salesperson) is that there is a foundation of trust and integrity developed, and any resulting “sale” is a win for both parties not just a revenue number for one of them. When I work with Lighthouse, I know that it is going to be thoughtful work that will benefit me and my organization as much as it benefits your firm.

    You and your team epitomize how it should be done. You should be proud of the culture of trust you have built at Lighthouse!
    -Diana Tullio
    Business Technology Strategist, Aileron

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