Just Give It To Me Straight

January 2019

Smart Selling: Distributor Sales Strategies From HIDA

By Elizabeth Hilla
Senior Vice President, HIDA

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.

And 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.

From http://www.repertoiremag.com/just-give-it-to-me-straight.html