The first thing he said. The very first words that came out of his mouth were an out-and-out, deliberate lie…
It’s a regular Tuesday afternoon. The phone rings. Unknown number. I answer.
“Hi Kevin, I was just speaking with one of your colleagues, and they said you’d be the best person to speak with.”
Which was interesting - I was the only one there.
I think: “Why are you lying to me?”. I say: “How exciting, go on.”
Cue sales pitch...
I guess his logic isn’t entirely warped. It’s always preferable to have some kind of warm introduction to a new prospect. And if there isn’t one, perhaps it is tempting to fabricate one?
But as a ruse, it’s hardly robust is it? “So which colleague did you speak to?” - “Erm…” “Which number did you catch them on?” – “Ah, well..”
And it’s a shame. I’d formerly had some knowledge, even respect, for the company. They have a smart product. One day, I may even have become a customer. Not now though. Hell no!
Any organisation that regards its customers, and its own integrity, with such disdain, is not one with whom you want a relationship.
Whether through explicit direction, or insufficient controls (for which read ‘lack of interest’), their willingness to let their frontline staff lie and trick customers says all you need to know about how any future relationship would work out.
And it’s all so unnecessary. In fact, it’s lazy. And reckless.
It would be no trouble at all to have sent a warm-up email in advance, to have asked if I minded them calling. I may have declined, but it wouldn’t have yielded any worse results than the lazy lie.
Besides the rant (thank you, I feel much better now) there’s an inevitable moral to this tale. Beyond the obvious ‘first impressions count’ and ‘10 ways to warm up a cold lead’ clickbait, the subtler message is about the risks and responsibilities of scale and outsourcing.
You can’t make every call yourself. You can’t sit in on every conversation. So, assuming that, unlike our case study here, you do have values and a moral code, then make sure these aspects are as much a part of your employee and contractor onboarding, as everything else. You’d never dream of leaving a new sales person to their own instincts about the benefits or technical capabilities of your products, so why on earth would you skip the core part of every sales dialogue – building rapport and trust?!
Some of the fundamentals to consider:
Delegation is an essential part of growing, but…
Define clear parameters
Build a cohesive team
While some of this may seem intuitive, it is easy to let things slip, especially when attention is diverted away from micro-level events like everyday operations, to macro issues like the scaling of your budding enterprise.
Finally remember that however fantastic your product or service is, it cannot make up for underhand and short-sighted sales practices. Irrespective of whether you operate in the B2B or B2C marketplace, people buy from those they trust. When you become complacent and reckless with people’s trust, it’s near-impossible to win them over again.
Have you been on the receiving end of similarly dubious sales tactics? How do you ensure your own team remain true to your original vision and values? Share your own experiences in the comments below.
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