Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Is your team having a hard time reaching decision-makers? Tempted to let them use a trick and/or fudge the truth just a bit? Read on to find out why…

Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Last week I was conducting a training session for a client. The topic? Gatekeepers. We were discussing what to say when a gatekeeper asks, “What is this in reference to?”

One of the sales representatives in the training session was an experienced sales rep and I’ll call her ‘Debbie.’ Debbie had a suggestion. She said that whenever a gatekeeper asks her the question, “What is this in reference to?” she always responds, “I’m not sure. I’m just returning the call.”

I’ve heard variations of this over the years, “It’s personal.” “She called me.” “He asked me to call.” And on and on and on.

I thought Debbie’s response was particularly clever and the way she said it made it extremely believable. Just one problem. It wasn’t true.

I can understand the temptation to use something like this. It’s so hard to get decision-makers on the phone. These types of responses might just get that gatekeeper to pass someone along. The problems will start, however, when they get that decision-maker on the phone, the one that knows perfectly well that she did not call, did not ask for a call and in fact, does not know your sales rep or your company.

With some fancy foot work, it may even be possible to get beyond a prospect’s irritation at this falsehood. Perhaps your team’s messaging is so compelling that prospects are nonetheless willing to engage; after all, Debbie has been using this approach for years. And as my client, who hired me to jumpstart his team’s prospecting efforts said, “We just need to start talking to prospects.”

Here’s my issue: It is perfectly possible to reach decision-makers directly without having to lie. While the above responses may indeed work to get access to the decision-maker it is just about guaranteed to torpedo any possibility that your team member may have of eventually turning that prospect into a customer. They have started off the sales process by lying. Given options, most people prefer not to do business with people that lie to them.

So, how should your team member respond to that gatekeeper who asks, “What is this in reference to?” How about, “Please tell (Prospect’s Name) that (Salesperson’s Name) from (Your Company) is on the line.” With the right delivery, this script works very well. It is neutral. It takes the decision-making power out of the hands of the gatekeeper and if the prospect is actually available, chances are they will be able to have the conversation.

When prospecting, there is never, ever any good reason to lie, fudge the truth or make stuff up. Your mama told you, and it’s still true today: “Honesty is always the best policy.”

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