The Spin of Technology
The other day, I was with some colleagues as we discussed how well software salespeople can spin. Forget the political talking heads on cable news television as they have nothing on a great EVP of Sales for software company.
In comparing notes with my colleagues, we found it hilarious as to how easily certain ‘misstatements’ can be spun in a guilt-free manner by a great software sales executive. For example, how would your EVP of Sales finish this justification: “It’s not lying if…”?
I've heard it said that it's not lying as long as you believe it. If you genuinely believe that your product can process general ledger journal entries and simultaneously calculate the orbital path of the International space Station, then it must be true.
Another colleague has heard that it's not lying, it's sales! Yes, Sales is about the hyperbole. Sales is the truth that gets stretched with greater elasticity than the best piece of chewing gum. The problem is, even bubblegum will pop when it is stretched too much.
I've also heard that it's not a lie if the other vendor tells the same lie. I guess nothing takes the guilt out of a good lie than having the competition make the same fabrication.
But don't think that you're going to get any perverse satisfaction of catching one of these people in a bald-faced lie. Their internal justification systems cannot register guilt. Some may argue this is an innate capability that was destined before birth while others think it is a learned behavior. Nevertheless, you just can't get any satisfaction from catching them in a lie.
Don't believe me? Try cornering a sales exec when you've got them dead to rights with incontrovertible truth. What will be their justification? Some might say: “I really wasn't cheating, I was just improving my odds of winning”. Don't you just love that kind of honesty?
Other defenses include: “I was just being provocative”; “My dog ate the real spec sheet – I had to make up something”; and, “C’mon, you’ve never told a little white lie?”. No lie of mine could match some of things that come out in a sales pitch.
If you think I am just playing, see pages 120-121 (“Inside the Mind of the Modern Salesperson") of the November 29 issue of Fortune. Under the category “Most creative thing I've ever done to get a meeting", the fourth answer listed is “Lied”. While you're reading the fascinating material on those two pages, don't miss the column “Strangest reason I ever lost a sale”.
Next month, I’m due to cover a number of vendors at a couple of big shows and vendor functions. I’m sure I’ll add more to my rich experience with software sales people. But, I’d love to hear your favorite phrases you’ve heard (or used) along the way.