Telling The Tr
   Big Time I

uth Counts
n Tough Times

by Bette Price

   INTEGRITY HAS ALWAYS PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN BUILDING POSITIVE SALES RELATIONSHIPS, yet in reality, just how often do salespeople tell the truth? Unfortunately, not as often as one might think, as reflected by the following statistics revealed in a survey conducted within the sales management sector:

  • 49 percent of sales managers admitted that their sales representatives lied on sales calls
  • 34 percent of the sales managers admitted to having heard their sales reps make unrealistic promises to customers
  • 30 percent admitted that they had customers who demanded kickbacks for buying products or services

   So, just what does it mean to tell the truth and why is telling the truth particularly important during tough times? Let�s begin with the why. Since September 11, nothing is the same nor will it be for an undetermined time. In times of uncertainty, people need truth to hang on to more than ever before. When doubt, fear and uncertainty prevail, knowing that you can count on being told the truth � even in the smallest matters � becomes an important factor of feeling secure in the decisions one makes. As salespeople, telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, you will differentiate youselves from your competitors and it will build the trust that will generate loyalty and referrals. It will enable you to be seen as a resource beyond just the sale. It will cement in your customers� minds a belief that their interests are truly being met and that their transactions are being handled in a fair and honest manner.
   What does it mean to tell the truth? Living up to commitments is a big part of telling the truth. "Maybe" or "I�ll try" is not a commitment. A commitment doesn�t exist until you are specific. So, if you tell your customer that you will have requested information by the following Monday, you must have it to them by the following Monday � not Tuesday or Wednesday. When commitments are made and not kept, the customer�s perception can easily be that problems will exist in the future because you didn�t keep your word. Translated � you didn�t tell the truth.
   Telling the truth can be conveyed in such simple ways as being consistent in your actions. Let�s take showing up on time for example. If you are consistently late for appointments, the perception is that you haven�t told the truth about when you will show up. Or, if you change your story about sales policies, delivery dates, or payment terms, your inconsistency conveys that you may not be telling the truth about other things. Even withholding of information can be perceived as failing to tell the truth.
   When you do what�s right and tell the truth it demonstrates that you sell with integrity, that you can be trusted and that you are the person the customer can count on. And, in tough times, that counts big time.