Think you need to spin a story, or even worse--lie--to win more business? Think again. Top performing salespeople know that there is nothing more powerful than telling the truth to gain their prospect's trust, and close the deal.
Sadly, this is a counterintuitive concept for many salespeople. In sales, you're taught how to be persuasive, overcome objections, and to always be closing. You also learn early in your career that those who close the most deals, earn the most money, regardless of their methods or (lack of) ethics.
For these reasons, some salespeople develop a habit of telling prospects what they want to hear, rather than being truthful about the inherent shortcomings or risks of the products or services they're selling. Accordingly, only three percent of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy, as outlined in a recent Hubspot Research survey. Ouch.
So what is a salesperson to do? The answer is simple: tell the truth.
I run a financial marketing firm that helps companies raise money. We are not a registered broker-dealer, which means that instead of charging success fees (a percent of funds raised), we charge fees up-front for services. Our fees range from $50,000 to $100,000 per month--a substantial cost for any business, let alone a business raising capital.
My strategy to sell deals at this level has always been straightforward: develop a base of references that prove our ability to deliver, and be honest with my prospects about the risks involved. I tell my prospects that on average, one out of four deals we take on fails. I am even more explicit, and explain our model on sales calls as follows:
"We've had a lot of success helping our clients raise capital, and most of our clients are satisfied with the results. But we do not guarantee success, or any outcome, for that matter. About a quarter of the deals we take on fail to achieve their fundraising goals. This means that there is a chance you could pay us a fee, and we could fail to generate any return on investment for you."
Do you know what the most common response is to this positioning? "Darren, I appreciate your transparency--it's very refreshing, thank you. We'd like to move forward."
By being honest about the risks involved with our engagements, I'm able to engender a sense of trust that differentiates my firm from the competition. Beyond winning deals, this candid approach to sales generates an incredible amount of referrals, both from clients and prospects who defer on our services.
Incredibly, even clients whose campaigns have failed, have referred business our way.
If that doesn't convince you that being honest and transparent in your sales cycles is a winning strategy, then nothing will.
In a perfect world, our firm would help raise capital for every client we sign, and we'd have a 100 percent track record of success. But that's not realistic, which is why people are hesitant or even skeptical when they see products advertised with "guaranteed results."
Whatever it is you're selling: your product or service is naturally imperfect. Like anything else, it has strengths, and it has its weaknesses. Rather than attempt to obfuscate your product's flaws, you should embrace them instead, and gain your prospect's trust by speaking openly and honestly about them.
Whether you're selling financial services, enterprise software, or even used cars, your integrity will make you a knight in shining armor--just like it did for the car dealership that gave a brutally honest description of a rusty, 14-year-old, 200,000-mile car on Facebook. The post went viral, and the car sold within a day.
In an interview with Fox 13 News, Shelmar Roseman, the salesperson who wrote the post, laid it out plainly: "It was an easy sale, once they knew what they were getting."
In the cutthroat world of sales, true honesty is rare. And that's why you can use it to your advantage, and develop a stellar reputation in your industry that will have prospects knocking on your door to do business with you.