Buyers lie. Investors lie.
But not for the reasons you might think.
Let’s explore this. First, confront any executive in your company (or just look in the mirror) and question, “why didn’t you close that big deal last month?”
Then watch. The excuse generator will kick-in:
… timing wasn’t right
…. competitor gave them product below-cost
… they weren’t ready to buy yet
All “reasonable” answers?
To me, these are not adequate reasons — they signal the buyer has completely controlled the sale while we ran in circles, exhausted ourselves trying to win them over.
What a big time waster.
How do I know? I see so many deals, my inbox is overflowing, I have 28,288 unread messages. Factually speaking, some people have retired or died waiting for a response (sorry!)
While I can’t give you details on any one deal – it’s all confidential stuff — I do see clear patterns of behavior across hundreds and hundreds of deals … patterns that should interest you.
Turns out, entrepreneurs are so hungry for positive feedback about their company, product or deal — they have a huge blindspot: BUYER’S LIE ALL THE TIME and they don’t recognize when or how.
The most common and most harmful lie I see? Positive feedback
Buyers often give positive feedback to keep you around as an option, but mainly to avoid the uncomfortableness of giving you bad news to your face.
I hear this 10X a week, “The buyer absolutely LOVED our presentation. They said it was the best they’ve ever seen.”
Across thousands of deals, I’ve learned, almost always, this is a form of deception. They didn’t LOVE the presentation enough to write a check. They didn’t LOVE the presentation to draft an LOI.
Well, really, all people lie. If Harvard University is to be believed, we’re all making two-solid lies a day. (Donald Trump recently had some impressive 1,000-Lie Days, so maybe the average is skewed, but still: buyers lie.)
What to do?
Don’t worry about getting good at lie detection.
Even LIE DETECTORS aren’t good at lie detection; they get it wrong 35% of the time.
The Fix Is To Get good at Lie Prevention.
- Don’t ask the buyer, “So what do you think?” or “Are you interested so far?”
Why? Because buyer’s (and especially investors) know you will argue with any negative feedback they give you.
So when they’re not interested, they will do/say the exact opposite – these are the most common examples of “I’m not interested.”
– this looks very interesting.
– this is something we can really use.
– definitely will take this to committee for feedback and get right back.
– this is one of the best presentations we’ve ever seen.
- Don’t ask a specific Leading Question
It turns out, buyers will lie most often when you ask them to affirm a positive statement:
– would a 10-terrabye bandwidth speedloader help your load times?
– would a 10 ton cement truck help you increase job size?
– Seems like air freight would get product faster from China
Rather than confront your sad puppy dog face with a rejection, they will say “yes, that is a benefit we would want.”
Later you will get the full rejection email.
- Studies show business people are less likely to lie if you make a Negative Statement about them
You might think these confrontational statements would offend a buyer, but in practice, it makes them take you seriously and reduces the chance they will pander to you.
… seems like you waited too long to upgrade your servers,
… you’re freight drivers seem careless, they have a very high accident rate, way above industry.
… customer service wait times are way too long, I’d be mad too if I was your customer.
Now we’re getting somewhere!
Stating negative facts about a buyer is something almost no salesperson does.
But they should.
Done correctly, this is single most effective strategy I know of to keep buyers in line,to keep them honest and prevent them from lying to you.
It accomplishes three important things.
- Shows that you have watched Mad Men. (Don Draper does this s— all the time.)
- Communicates you’re not needy, and OK with tension. This signals that, unlike other salespeople, you’re both an adult and an experienced negotiator — the buyer doesn’t have to lie to you and “protect your feelings.”
- You’re not going to supplicate and say “nice things” just to win brownie points. You’re not here to win a popularity contest, you’re here to offer something of value. This of course makes them take you seriously.
To improve your next sales presentation or capital raise,
– don’t set the buyer up to lie to you by asking softball, positive leaning questions
– initiate honesty + tension by directly insulting them … errr … I mean, by highlighting their obvious shortcomings
– There’s no risk in doing so, since no serious enterprise deal is going to close without some tense moments and lots of honest discussion.
– by introducing honesty, tension and openness you improve the sale process, and almost never hurt it.
Don’t worry about lie detection.
Focus on lie prevention.
If you want help doing this, I suggest using Pitch Mastery. Once you have a customer number, you can hop on our weekly LIVE call and we’ll do a live review of your current approach vs. What you should be doing.
Pitch Mastery registration here.