Successful entrepreneurs tell the truth – and clinch the sale

Successful entrepreneurs tell the truth – and clinch the sale

 

Barry Maher

Truth, says national speaker and consultant Barry Maher, is the ultimate sales tool.

It’s the ultimate because it’s ethical – and because it’s effective. Barry believes this so strongly that he wrote a book titled No Lie: Truth is the Ultimate Sales Tool – and here is just a partial list of his clients: ABC, the American Bar Association, the American Management Association, AT&T, Blue Cross, Budget Rent a Car, Canon, Cessna, Colgate-Palmolive, the Department of Homeland Security, IBM, Humana Healthcare, Infiniti Automotive, Johnson & Johnson, Lufthansa Airlines, McDonald’s, Merck, the National Lottery of Ireland, the Small Business Administration, Verizon and Wells Fargo.


Barry’s statement that truth telling is ethical is straightforward, but how is a tell-it-like-it-is approach effective when there are negatives about your product or services? “Virtually all products have SOME good features,” he contends, “and if your product or service genuinely isn’t a good deal, then you need to offer something else. And, if you can’t tell the truth, then you should be doing something else.”
 

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Barry Maher and his Clyde Thompson principle

Barry tells a story about Clyde Thompson that perfectly illustrates the principle of turning negatives into positives as Clyde applied for a job where other strong candidates existed. He had a “thin scar running from his hairline, down across his eyelid and down onto his cheek . . . with a non-standard body that can make a $3,000 Armani suit look like it was ripped off the rack in K-Mart. His hair and mustache are gray; he appears to be in his mid-fifties.” He’s currently unemployed and has no industry experience – and had to check “yes” next to the question about committing felonies.

When asked why he should be hired, his answer was as follows: If you hire me, I can’t afford not to succeed! I don’t have the option of being able to move on to greener pastures – or even brown pastures – when the job gets too grueling. I’m 100 percent committed. As locked into this position as I was locked into that jail cell 35 years ago. And if you’ll notice that’s where I earned most of the credits for my college degree. I never wanted a Master’s, so I’ve made sure I’ve never had to go back. But what I learned in that place – the formal and the informal training – has a lot to do with why I’ve been so successful at every job I’ve had since then.

Clyde unabashedly put the negatives on the table, turning them into assets that made the company decide to offer him the job. Only one problem, though: Clyde was already off the job market, having accepted a much better offer.

Applying the Clyde Thompson principle to sales

“When you tell the truth when selling,” Barry says, “you’re not accountable for any false promises and your customers won’t be disappointed because you can’t deliver.”

Here are more helpful bullet points from our conversation with Barry:

  • If you don’t believe in a product or service, don’t take a job selling it. If you do, you’re just deceiving yourself, as well as the other guy.
  • You can’t always change a product or service, but you can change yourself and what you agree to sell.
  • If you do believe in a product or service, make sure that you’re in front of the right audience, one where the deal being offered is worthwhile. If not, correct that by getting in front of the correct audience.
  • If a sales process feels unethical to you, make sure that you’re clear that the product or service offered is worth the price.
  • Once you honestly believe in what you’re selling and that it’s appropriately priced, then sales is really just an education process.
  • If you struggle with promoting yourself, refer people to a list of testimonials, in text and/or in video. Let others sell your value for you.

Not the right person for the job?

Sometimes, when a potential client asks Barry to speak in front of a group, he realizes that he isn’t the right person. “For example,” he says, “when someone wanted me to speak about etiquette, I knew I wasn’t the guy. When I was in Ireland, I looked down and realized that I was eating my soup with a serving spoon that was the size of a small shovel. So, I referred this person to another speaker I could recommend wholeheartedly, someone that I’d already heard speak. I get a referral fee, and I was very open about that.”

And, when people refer clients to Barry, he is happy to reciprocate by paying them a referral fee – and again being transparent about the transaction.

Expanding your horizons

So, it is wrong to go after a job where you don’t have significant experience? Of course not! That’s when you turn the negatives into assets.

Here’s an example: let’s say that an investigative journalist realized that he really wanted to write computer manuals. When bidding on the job, he can openly admit that this would be his first computer manual — and then add, “Because I’ve never done this before, I’ll work harder and get you exactly what you need. I’ll use my fact finding and researching skills to write detailed and clear instructions. I’ll give you a price break, I’ll let you approve my outline and I guarantee that your manual will be the result of fresh original research, not boilerplate language.”

Negatives you can’t overcome

Occasionally, Barry says there are situations when it isn’t worth your time to turn negatives into positives. “Let’s say that I was asked to speak to an audience who was from China, with no one understanding English. At this point, it’s a matter of diminishing returns, and it just isn’t worth the time it would take to try to overcome the challenges.”

You have to recognize those situations, he says, and respond appropriately.

Takeaway message

 

“Telling the truth,” Barry says, “is the simplest way to maintain trust.”

Here, you can read chapter 1 of No Lie: Truth is the Ultimate Sales Tool for free – and you can find the entire book at Amazon.

Find out what other entrepreneurs are saying about how to be successful

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