Quit Spinning - You're Making Me Dizzy

Quit Spinning - You're Making Me Dizzy

Summary: The Spin of TechnologyThe 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.


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.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Software


Brian is currently CEO of TechVentive, a strategy consultancy serving technology providers and other firms. He is also a research analyst with Vital Analysis.

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  • Its not a lie if...

    My first sales job entailed allot of selling customers on little ad-ons and extra features of the product. For a number of years I worked under a manager there who would not accept any excuse we had for not tacking these on to our sales. She wanted us to tell them they could afford it when it simply wasn't in their budget, to tell them they'd need it to make the product useful, anything you could think of. Her theory was "its not a lie its an up-sell."
  • Salespeople lie because...

    customers lie. Before we get all holier than thou, have you ever lied to a salesperson and justified it because "he's just a salesman"?

    "Call me in 3-6 months"
    "I'm making this decision"
    "Sure, there's a budget"
    "No, the RFP isn't wired for your competitor"
    "Your competitor is x% cheaper"
    • You take the cake

      of lame excuses.


      Customers lie because they have no balls to say they don't want to buy the product. Sure, they lie.

      But to say THAT is the reason salespeople lie is quite laughable. Salespeople lie because they want to make a sale, not because the customer lies to them about the reason not to buy whatever the seller is offering.
  • How can you tell when a salesman is lying

    The same way as you can tell a politician is lying, sounds are coming out of their mouth.
    • What's the difference between a car salesman

      and an IT salesman?
      At least the car salesman knows when he is lying!
      I am Gorby