Buyers are liars until proven otherwise.
They’re flaky, unaccountable, unreliable and dishonest.
And yet that’s the type of behavior you have to put up with to get paid when it comes to outbound sales.
Fortunately I’ve been able to build an inbound money machine here at RLD where clients pay upfront and online and I love all of my coaching clients…
But it wasn’t always that way. And it’s not always going to be that way for you depending on the type of business you’re in.
Sure can get your revenue high enough that you can spend 20k a month on marketing and run purely on inbound leads paid upfront, or eventually you can make enough cash that you can hire other guys to pitch, close and handle clients for you.
But until then you’ll have to get your hands dirty, because the truth is, outbound sales means getting comfortable having uncomfortable conversations and being professional in the face of buyer bullshit…
But that’s why they pay you the big bucks, whether as a salesman or as an entrepreneur.
I spend close to a decade in cutthroat corporate sales and have very clear memories of exactly what that reality is like and I can tell you from first experience that buyers are liars until proven otherwise.
Buyers Lie for Three reasons:
1) Because they can be
They know they have power and they take pleasure in using it against you knowing you have to be professional. Or even if they don’t take pleasure in it, they don’t care enough about you to be accountable or honest.
2) Because They Don’t Have The Money
And are too embarrassed to admit that they can’t afford your services. You would think that people wouldn’t care whether a total stranger knows they can’t afford something, but many people do.
3) Because They’re scared to have an uncomfortable conversation
They don’t want to break rapport with you and either risk hurting your feelings or risk you putting pressure on them through objection management. Most people are not comfortable having uncomfortable conversations and would rather tell you they’ll think about it and dodge your calls instead of telling you the truth.
That’s not to say that all buyers are liars, or that all buyers are bad people…
Some clients will do exactly what they say, these are usually business owners who have experience selling and therefore know how to be good clients. Business owners will also be the type of people who are comfortable having uncomfortable conversations and will politely but firmly tell you that they’re not interested, which saves you a lot of time.
And it’s not to say that buyers are liars because they’re bad people, although you will probably find yourself dealing with at least some people who aren’t very polite. On average buyers will dodge your calls not because they’re dicks, but because they don’t want to risk hurting your feelings by telling you know.
But you should assume that all buyers are liars until you have the money in your hand, that way you’re not frustrated, or disappointed. And most importantly, you have a realistic expectation of the amount of outbound touch points you need to make to hit your targets. The reality is buyers are liars until proven otherwise…
You should expect the following things to happen when selling:
1) Buyers Telling You That They’ll get back to you
2) Buyers telling you that they’ll think about it
The fact is they already have thought about it and it’s a no, if you let them off the phone without isolating and managing their objection, that deal is DOA. (hint their objection is almost always the money)
3) Buyers telling you that they’ll look at the proposal you sent them
They won’t. Buyers will rarely look at your proposal or media kit unless you’re walking them through it on the phone or presenting your proposal in person.
4) Buyers agreeing to appointments or calls
Prepare to get flaked on and rescheduled on a lot.
5) Buyers lying about being decision makers
When in fact they don’t make the decisions and therefore are not even buyers. Often times the guy you’re talking to doesn’t sign the checks and you might not find out until months later that the VP of marketing you’ve been talking to for 6 months has no power to authorize any deals, and the CFO signs off on everything. You then realize you never got to the real objection, which was that he can’t close the deal himself, and you were pitching the wrong person.
It might sound insane, but people will pretend to be decision makers to make themselves feel powerful, or at the very least so they don’t have to admit that they don’t make decisions, even to total strangers. And often times it’s the least powerful people that treat you the worst and pretend to have the most power, I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve tried to get through to a decision maker, only to have the secretary grill me about my reasons for reaching out to the DM, and tell me with total certainty that he wouldn’t be interested, as if she can speak for the CEO of the organization.
6) Buyers telling you that they’ll do the deal
A verbal agreement is as good as the paper it’s written on.
7) Buyers telling you that they’ll sign the contract
This can be a tough lie to swallow, especially when your manager is breathing down your neck about your targets and you have to keep explaining to him why the guy hasn’t signed it, or you need money as a young entrepreneur to pay your expenses. I’ve been in situations where guys were telling me they would sign the contract that day for months and would try to make me feel as if I was being unreasonable because he was just about to get to it.
8) Buyers telling you that they’ll wire you the money
A guy can agree to the deal, sign the contract and still not pay you. Or you can have clients who pay you, just not on time and you have to chase them down at the end of the month, sometimes for weeks. That was something I had to deal with at my last sales job, because our billing system was archaic and run by our incompetent office manager, as opposed to the beautiful, automated upfront payment system I’ve created for RLD.
9) Buyers telling that they sent you the money
Yes, some clients will actually lie about sending you money, and when you bring it up, they’ll tell you the bank must be slow to process the payment. In these cases it’s usually because the guy doesn’t have the money and is trying to buy himself time and is to embarrassed to tell you. Often times he’ll pay you two days later and act as if his payment finally went through (btw calling him out as a liar is not the best move, handling the situation delicately and allowing him to save face is the right move).
It doesn’t matter if:
- The lead sounds promising
- They tell you they’ll get back to you
- They tell you they’re interested
- They tell you they’ll do the deal
- They tell you they’ll sign the contract
- They sign the contract
- They tell you they’ve sent you the money
It’s not a deal until you have the money in your hand!
So you’d be smart to assume that all buyers are liars until proven otherwise and not be surprised when you have to consistently deal with buyer behavior bullshit. If you find yourself consistently frustrated when trying to get new clients it’s because you haven’t properly managed your expectations.
Anger comes from the difference between expectations and reality, therefore you want your expectations in line with reality as much as possible. And that comes from using past data effectively. Or if your new to sales or entrepreneurship, just take my word for it and use my past data and experiences.
The smart way to deal with buyer behavior is:
1) Charge it to the game
Recognize buyer bullshit as a cost of doing business, and that dealing with client headaches is part of why you make good money, because most people don’t want to deal with clients.
2) Always be polite and professional
Remember that your job is not about being right, it’s about getting paid, and everything out of your mouth you should maximize your chances of getting paid. Calling a potential client out for lying or getting aggressive is a surefire way to make sure you don’t get paid. Remember, you get paid for selling and for service, being professional in the face of unaccountable behavior is called good client service and it’s how you make big bucks. Sales is not rocket science, it pays well because you do the things that other people don’t want to do, like having uncomfortable conversations and handling client headaches with composure.
3) Manage your expectations
Being angry or disappointed doesn’t help you be happier or close more deals, in fact those emotions have the opposite effect. It’s much better to assume that buyers are liars until proven otherwise and adjust your emotions accordingly. Remember that all you have to do is follow your sales process consistently and good things will happen.
4) Put in the work
If you’re new to sales or entrepreneurship, recognize it will take more work than you expect to get new clients on board. You can take my word for it that a lot of deals and promising leads will fall through, so make sure to put in more work that you would have thought necessary to make up for it.
Eventually though you’ll figure out your closing percentage so that you can do accurate money math on your targets and know exactly how many outbound touch points you have to make to hit your financial goals (with that said, always aim to improve and optimize your sales process so that you can constantly be increasing your closing percentage.)
5) Build a money machine
The good news is that life is a layer cake, and the more successful you get the less buyer bulls@%t you have to deal with, and there may come a time where you don’t have to deal with any, this is what I call a luxury. A luxury is not Louis Vuitton it’s leveling up so you don’t have to do things you don’t want to do. If you’re a salesman, use your experience and the cash you save to build your own business. If you already have your own business, go hard on optimizing your sales system and getting your revenue up so that you:
- Can invest in inbound marketing where clients come to you and pay upfront
- Can invest in hiring guys to pitch and close your deals for you
- Can build an automated online billing system where you get paid upfront through automatic recurring payments and don’t have to chase clients down with an invoice every month at the end of every month
- Do what I did and create enough valuable content where you don’t have to pay for marketing and where clients buy in to you, treat you well, and trust you enough to pay online and upfront without even having to speak to you on the phone (may not work for your industry and there is a limit to how much people will pay without talking to someone)
- Do all of the above
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