When you’re a customer, which would you rather hear: A) marketing
spin designed to make you feel good, or B) honest information, even if
it’s bad news?
If you’re like me, you’d prefer B, the straight scoop.
I know my daughter would. She’s a sophomore in college and, last
spring, she selected her dorm for the fall semester. Shortly after, she
found out that the dorm was being renovated and might not be open until a
couple of weeks after the start of school. No worries, she thought,
what’s a couple of weeks of inconvenience? Well, that was about five
months ago and the project still isn’t complete. Had she known, she
could have made a different housing choice.
yet most people – me included – are often guilty of providing
unrealistic, best-case information. We tell a friend we’re running five
minutes late to meet them, knowing that it’s more likely to be 20
minutes. We tell the doctor we exercise regularly when, really, the
trips to the gym have been sporadic.
We do it in sales too. We tell the customer all the great benefits
that a new product has to offer, but we don’t mention its drawbacks. We
tell them we expect to fill their back order shortly, when in reality we
just don’t know how soon we’ll have product.
I’m all for optimism, but I think this kind of overly optimistic,
best-case thinking undermines our long-term relationships with
customers. No one wants to tell the customer that the product they want
is on back order and may not be available for quite a while. But I think
that over the long haul, the customer is going to trust the salesperson
who gives it to them straight.
Read these examples and try to imagine yourself as the customer hearing each statement:
- Instead of: “The back order situation is sure to be resolved by the end of the month.”
How about: “We’ve gotten conflicting information about the back
order situation. I’m trying to get you the product as soon as possible,
but I’m not sure how soon that will be.”
- Instead of: “You’re going to love this new rapid test. It delivers super-accurate results in just 15 minutes!”
How about: “This new rapid test costs a little more than what
you’re using, and it takes about two minutes longer. The benefit is that
it delivers results that are 30 percent more accurate.”
- Instead of: “I’ve found almost exactly what you were looking for!”
How about: “There are a lot of great analyzers available, but I
can’t find one that does all the tests you were looking for in the
price range you specified. Would you rather revisit the list of tests,
or reconsider the budget limit?”
You’re the best judge of how to best balance “spin” vs. “brutal
honesty” in your sales pitch. But I suspect that adding an extra helping
of reality to your communications may pay dividends to you in customer
loyalty and trust.