Having to be persuasive can easily tempt people to sway into gray areas when it comes to honesty and manipulation. Whether you’re dealing with sales, are in a debate, or promoting a product via a marketing channel, it can be tempting to throw in an outrageous claim or flat out lie in order ‘to win’.
While short term success can result from mischievous tactics, in the long run, I firmly believe that honesty and integrity eventually win out. You can lie your way to the top, or bag a big client by over-promising or lying about your competition, but ultimately people catch on, and your success ends. Here are some factors as to why honesty is so important in sales and marketing.
Trust is very much based on expectations. People you trust are those that consistently match your expectations based on their actions. If someone tells you they’ll do something, but continuously fail to do it, then you begin to distrust them. The same thing happens to businesses and individuals when selling a service or product. Being honest in what you’re selling allows the prospect to better define their expectations for what you’re offering. If there aren’t any surprises, there’s less reason to doubt the integrity of your service. On the flipside, if you overpromise and use false claims, it won’t take long for the eventual client to notice that reality doesn’t match the expectations they were given. Over time trust erodes, and the client will eventually leave with a negative impression of you and your company.
Closely tied with trust is reputation. In an industry such as SEO, there are countless companies that are consistently mentioned as untrustworthy or ‘scammy’. These negative reputations didn’t simply form overnight or happen due to a misunderstanding. Shady sales tactics that involve painting a picture that’s ‘too good to be true’, capture non-savvy prospects into long term commitments that result in an unhappy and desperate customer. While those companies continue to sell at a rapid pace in order to increase their client base, unhappy clients cancel their services as soon as they can and become disillusioned with the industry. It not only hurts the seller themselves, but the whole industry in general.
Those companies with solid reputations are forced to work harder to encourage new prospects, but ultimately benefit from longer term clients.
Setting realistic expectations is so important because it generates loyalty. Clients that trust your services or products usually end up staying loyal to your brand, through good times and bad times. While being realistic in your sales pitch may make your job a little bit harder, it results in a client that remains with you longer. If you sell a service that is based on a monthly retainer, this means a higher lifetime customer value, resulting in better long term profits. Why spend the time to quickly sell a client who will angrily leave in 3 months, when you could actually work with a prospect that could become a loyal client for years?
At Motoza, our average client retention for SEO is about 26 months. In comparison to other SEO companies, this number is well beyond the industry average. We credit that to simply being honest in our sales pitch, in our transparent communication with our client, and prioritizing trust over retention.
An often overlooked aspect of sales is how it affects your product team. Being dishonest, or using false claims in order to get a signed contract add extra pressure on the customer service and product teams within your organization. No company likes angry clients. The extra time and effort put into trying to retain a customer, or delaying with complaints could be used in ways to improve your service, improve your team morale, and make advancements in your industry. While huge corporations with million dollar budgets can afford a robust sales and retention team, the small business owner should focus on what’s important, their service.
Businesses, whether they’re based on a service or product model, need to find time and resources in order to evolve and grow. Between sales, marketing, finance, product development and customer service, it’s usually very difficult for small businesses to grow. Why add extra stress to your company when you could be finding ways to streamline your processes and improve your services? At the end of the day, becoming more efficient, and more effective, will result in a growing company that will see long term sales easily exceed those based on scammy sales practices.
Sales isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s especially hard in industries with high demand, and even higher competition. However, try not to be tempted by short term glory. At the end of the day, while you may win a few battles, you won’t grow past the reputation you’ve made for yourself. Be honest – it’ll pay off in the long term.
By Carlos Crespo.