Never Mislead A Prospect


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Do you ever mislead a prospect in your sales pitch, either deliberately, or simply by leaving something out? If so you won’t be unusual. Most sales people think the customer has a responsibility for her own due diligence – making sure the basis on which she’s about to buy is what she thinks it is. We even have a term for it in law – Caveat Emptor which translates from Latin into English as Let The Buyer Beware.

That sounds like a pretty good fall back position for most involved in selling, and especially marketing.

Unfortunately for them, there’s another legal concept in relationship to contracts which is less appealing. Misrepresentation of the facts gives cause for cancellation of any contract. And misleading anybody in the pursuit of a contract for sale is Misrepresentation.

That’s the somewhat ambivalent background as far as the law is concerned. Luckily these finer points don’t come into play very often. Which is why unscrupulous sellers get away with being economic with the truth, as the saying goes – a polite way of saying Telling Lies.

There’s a more relevant reason sales professionals never mislead prospects. Buyers who make decisions based on incorrect information make very bad customers. Hell hath no fury like a customer conned, you might say.

This is yet another dimension in which every sales professional should be standing in the customers shoes, asking “how do I feel when somebody misleads me and I fall for it?” and “what sort of customer will I be, when I find out?”

Here’s an example of my own, which demonstrates that point exactly.

A couple of years ago I tried to find a way of improving the performance of our investment portfolio. For the last ten years the growth has been awful. In fact, so awful there hadn’t been any.

There’s a youngish man – we’ll call him John – I knew from different circumstances. The son-in-law of friends. I’d helped him, and some of his mates, join our golf club. Slightly arrogant, but friendly enough. He runs a business as an Independent Financial Advisor. The ideal person to help me decide what to do, without a heavy sales pitch.

John’s review of our portfolio told us what we’d expected. Of course there was a better way. He and his colleagues had selected a special fund manager. An expert who selected the best of the best funds. The funds which balanced both risk and reward. Portfolios managed by him didn’t follow the stock market down, or up. They picked a careful route through turbulent markets to provide consistent performance.

You’ve already guessed, we transferred our investments and everything went well, for a while. Then the markets dropped, and so did our nest egg, only more. Then the markets went up, and so did our nest egg, only less.

When I asked for an explanation he arranged a conference call with the fund manager. He gave me the “correlation isn’t causation” line. Any relationship between his fund and the main index was purely coincidence.

Being that sort of guy, I started tracking both the main index, and the portfolio values.

You’ve guessed it. My investments tracked the index almost exactly.

What do I do now?

Every month I send him the latest report showing how I prove the point made a year ago. What he’d told me at the start misled me. Now I have new investments to make he’s going to have a hard time persuading me of anything. He, and his fund manager had misled me, and they’re not going to do it again, even if they’re right.

We both lost out.

Winning new business from me is hard for him. At the moment he won’t return my calls.

I don’t have an adviser I trust. Right now I’m scratching around for alternatives.

How different could this have been if he’d stood in my shoes? Understood I might know more than he thought. Been honest, upfront and consultive.

He’d have told me markets are messy. Nobody is making money in times like this. Protection of asset value should be the objective. Try to keep value as much as possible, and wait for better times.

If he’d done that, despite what’s happened he’d be my goto man.

And he’d still be able to ask my help in getting his friends into the golf club.

Which he can’t now.

And I don’t have a financial advisor I can trust 🙁

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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