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What to do when clients lie

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In the sales process, prospects often tell “white lies” to deflect you. They say they can’t meet with you because of their doctor’s appointments (no such thing), their existing coverages (no such policy), or their existing advisors (no such brother-in-law). If you do get to meet with them, they may tell more serious lies, such as hiding medical conditions, overstating assets or hiding their true motivations for taking your time.

So what do you do when a prospect or client lies to you? The answer depends on your assessment of the magnitude — and context — of the lie. So the next time a prospect or client lies to you, take a deep breath, then …

1. Give the person the benefit of the doubt. Don’t automatically assume someone is lying. Probe to see if there’s a misunderstanding.

2. Call out the lie. When you hear a lie, don’t let it pass. Let the client know it’s in both of your best interests to be completely forthright. Then ask for a clarification.