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A Seemingly Harmless Tactic That Ruins Credibilty in Direct Sales

Mar 2, 2008
Being viewed as a pushy sales person was my biggest concern, when I started my direct sales business. Yes, I was more concerned about being pushy than I was about getting business! Because I already have an outgoing personality (sometimes my children would call it overbearing), I knew it wouldn't take much to convince people that I was just another pushy salesperson.

At first, that concern made my journey in the sales world difficult. Because I was so nervous about appearing pushy, I was extremely cautious, which didn't exactly get my calendar filled to the brim. The good news is that all the while I was paying close attention to my prospects and customers.

It didn't take long before I noticed what my customers loved most about me - my no holds barred honesty. After I realized how much my customers loved my honesty, I was able to see that what they yearned for in a sales situation was honesty over manipulation. So it astounds me how often sales people are taught manipulation over honesty. They're taught it in seemingly harmless ways, but I maintain that any degree of dishonesty destroys the reputation of our industry.

Of course I have an example here to share. For a moment put yourself in the prospect's shoes (something I often ask you to do). You're at a home party of a friend and the consultant comes up to you and says:

"My company is looking for top-notch people in this particular area. I'd love to tell you more about our opportunity sometime this week."

How do you feel right now? Did you become keenly interested because the consultant told you that her company was looking for top-notch people in your area?

All right. Now imagine that you're at a different home party. This time the consultant says to you:

"I'm looking for top-notch people like you to join my team. I'd love to tell you more about this opportunity sometime this week."

What differentiates those two approaches? I believe that what differentiates those two approaches is integrity. The first example might seem like a powerful way to attract a prospect's attention, but the truth is, most people these days are pretty familiar with the direct sales industry.

They know that certainly any direct sales company wants top-notch people in their company, but they also know how this business works. They know that the salesperson's job is to sell, book, and recruit. Therefore, saying "our company is looking for top-notch sales people in the area" is far more likely to be heard as a manipulative tactic to hook them instead of a sincere touch of honesty.

My husband and I have often discussed the many ways that salespeople cue to prospects or customers that they can't be completely trusted. I can think of a better way to build a relationship - stick to honest jargon.

You see, what seems like an innocuous little approach is actually lined with deceit. Your company isn't looking for top-notch people in THIS AREA; your company is looking for top-notch people any where they can find them. Furthermore, it's not even a requirement that the people you recruit are top-notch. When an application goes across the president's desk, it's not going to be rejected.

Do you really think that the majority of people attending your home parties don't know that? They do. That's why anything that has even a hint of dishonesty or deceit rubs them the wrong way and does more to convince them not to join you in the business than it does to persuade them to take a look at your opportunity.

Even if a potential recruit knows nothing about the direct sales industry and totally falls for that line about your company needing top-notch sales people in the area, exactly how well will that phrase settle with her once she sees the business opportunity presented? Hmm... it's going to be pretty obvious at that point that the company actually settles for anyone that is willing to buy a starter kit and give it a try.

So why not use honesty from the get go? It's you who wants top-notch people on your team. Be proud of that, and let the people you want to recruit know that you are. It's not only honest to say that you are looking for top-notch people to join you in this business, it's a sincere compliment. Your prospect won't feel any less flattered when she sees the marketing plan; if anything, she'll feel flattered that you think of her as a top-notch individual that can achieve the top level in your company.

Surely you know the story of Pinocchio - each time he told a little white lie, his nose grew another inch, and before he knew it he looked ridiculous. Slipping in little white lies with the intent to coerce your prospects and customers to give you what you want not only makes you look ridiculous, it taints the very industry in which you're trying to grow a business.

Your prospects truly yearn for sales situations that maintain honesty over manipulation. Thus, no matter what might sound salesman slick or smooth to say... honesty really is the best policy.
About the Author
Tammy Stanley directs The Sales Refinery, a sales training firm that assists direct sales entrepreneurs generate more business through powerful marketing, selling, and leadership strategies. Get her FREE report, "3 Simple Secrets to Building an Empire in Direct Sales" at http://www.tammystanley.com
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