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The Sales Clinic: Why Buyers Lie To You (and What They Really Mean)

I'm often amazed at how many salespeople and business owners are surprised when, after we've de-briefed their sales meeting or phone call, they realize the buyer or decision-maker they were talking to lied to them.

In many cases the salesperson will actually defend the buyer, saying things like, "Well, they're just not ready to buy," or "They have to see all the salespeople first and then make a decision."

What the salesperson usually means when saying something like the above is, "I haven't done my job properly." Not surprisingly, few are willing to admit this (and some aren't even aware of it).

Here are some phrases buyers or decision-makers will say to you or your team—and what they really mean.

"I'm happy with my existing supplier." I'm still astounded so many salespeople fall for this one, either exiting the call or mentally "giving up" upon hearing it. The average salesperson hears this so often, you'd think they would have learnt to deal with it by now.

When the buyer says something like "I'm happy with my existing supplier," what he usually means is, "I don't know you well enough to consider you as an alternative supplier just yet," "I don't like you as much as I like my existing supplier," or even "Your call or visit has interrupted me, and I'm going to use a phrase that gets rid of most salespeople."

Nonetheless, most salespeople who hear this objection still let it affect them in a negative way. Some don't even get as far as asking another question. Let's be honest here: If this is your first decent conversation or visit with the potential new client, isn't it fairly normal for them to be "happy" with their existing supplier at this stage?

It's your job as a salesperson to understand their current solution and how your product or service adds value to what they're trying to achieve with it. If you only relied on being "lucky," you're missing out on the majority of your sales opportunities!

"I need to think about this and get back to you." Another classic example of something a lot of salespeople fall for. When someone says, "I need to think about this and get back to you," what they might well mean is "I don't have enough information to make a decision on this yet." What they might also mean is, "I'm not sure about you, so I'm going to check you and your company out on the Internet while you're not here." Or even, "I've already decided not to use you, but I'm not willing to tell you that."

Whichever of those it is, leaving the appointment or phone call at this stage is the worst thing you can do. Even if they are considering you and truly thinking about it in more detail, what that means is they're going through that process (and even reaching their decision) without you being involved.

"I'm under contract at the moment." Another old favorite. When a buyer or decision-maker says this, what they might well mean is simply "Go away!" Or perhaps, "I don't want to be pitched by you right now." Or even as a challenge, as in, "Let's see how he handles this one." Again, if you fall for this, you've only got yourself to blame.

"I've had a better price." What a great negotiation tactic this is! Yet many salespeople fall for it— particularly if they're struggling for sales figures or income.

Often, when the buyer or decision-maker says, "I've had a better price," what they may well mean is "Let's see how much you can reduce your price by," or even, "Let's get a cheaper quote from you, so I can go to my existing supplier and get their price down."

Buyers and decision-makers know this works because the salesperson's first thought is, "I need to drop my price to get the deal," rather than, "I need to find out more about this."

The conversation then turns to how much the buyer or decision-maker wants the price reduced by (also known as "haggling"), and in some cases, the price ends up somewhere between 50 to 70 percent of what the salesperson originally stated.

Not the outcome you really want as a salesperson, is it?

Andy Preston is an expert authority on selling for small businesses. Visit him online at www.andy-preston.com and www.salestrainingbreakfastclub.com.