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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Why Prospects Lie

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A little while ago I was conducting a sales-training workshop. We were discussing the importance of asking high-value questions. A participant piped up and said, “What difference does it make what questions we ask? The prospect isn’t going to tell us the truth anyway.”

I have to admit that I was somewhat taken aback by his statement, but it did make me think. There’s no doubt that some people will not tell you the truth during a discovery conversation. However, I strongly believe that this is sometimes caused by the salesperson and his or her actions or behavior.

Prospects are inundated by people trying to sell them the latest and greatest product, and in many cases, they have heard a similar sales pitch from another salesperson. In my experience, many salespeople ask questions that either could have been answered by a quick visit to the prospect’s website or by doing a few minutes of research. Or, they ask self-serving and useless questions, such as “What do you know about our company?,” “Can I tell you about…?,” “If I could show you how you will (save money, increase sales, etc.) would you be interested?” and “What will it take to earn your business?”

In today’s business climate, the people you’re trying to sell to are incredibly busy. They don’t have time to waste on frivolous conversations. They expect you to do some research before you contact them so that you can get to the point and offer something that will help them improve their overall business results.

Too many sales reps still follow the “show up and throw up” approach. They believe that telling is selling. If they actually ask questions, they either ask the wrong questions or they ask them at the wrong time. Or, they ask questions that are designed to get a buying commitment from the prospect.

Here’s the simple truth: The main reason prospects don’t tell you the truth is because they don’t trust you. If you want prospects to open up and tell you the truth you need to create an environment of trust.

This means using the right tone and manner during your conversation, whether it’s on the telephone or during a face-to-face meeting. It means asking tough, penetrating questions that cause your prospect to sit and up and think. It means resisting the temptation to pitch your product until you have an accurate understanding of how it will actually help your prospect.

It means putting your agenda on the side burner and focusing 100 percent of your attention on your prospect’s problem, concern or situation instead of trying to close the sale.

If you can achieve this then it is more likely your prospects will be straightforward with you, and you will no longer need to worry about them lying to you.

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Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at


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