Maybe the Dumbest Sales Line Ever

Travel with me back to 1999.  It was the last year of the old millennium, and people across the globe were growing increasingly nervous about Western Civilization as we knew it possibly ending because computers defined years with two digits instead of four.  Everything from banks to gas pumps to grocery stores were potentially subject to immediate shutdown at the stroke of midnight, January 1, 2000 unless the bug was almost universally eradicated.

Of course Y2K was on everyone’s minds and lips at the spring 1999 HIMSS Conference and Exhibition.  One vendor I spoke with uttered what is probably the dumbest sales line I have ever heard.  We were discussing his product, and he said (and this is pretty close to an exact quote), “Our software is Y2K compliant, but our new release coming out this summer will be even more Y2K compliant.”

How dumb did I look?  Either a product is Y2K compliant or it isn’t.  By definition, compliance with a technical standard means conforming 100%.  Anything less is noncompliance.

But this gentleman was spouting a concept (i.e., the importance of Y2K compliance) he had taken in with his ears apparently without letting the words penetrate his brain before he expressed his nonsensical statement.  In fairness to him, he might have been slap happy after spending six smiling hours on the trade show floor, so I’m sure he made that comment in all innocence.  But it does illustrate a problem that technology and other vendors sometimes create for themselves.

I believe I am like most consumers and purchasers in that I want to trust those I deal with.  Although I’m not a babe in the woods, my default position is that people are typically trustworthy and that, absent evidence to the contrary, I can rely on what they tell me.  But when I hear a totally illogical statement like the one about being “even more Y2K compliant,” it immediately cuts the legs out of someone’s believability. 

I tell my clients that their credibility may be their most valuable commodity.  Once that is blown, it can be hard to recover.  I try to act with complete integrity because I know that ultimately people do business with individuals and organizations they know, like and trust.  If my integrity is questionable, why would you trust anything I do or say?

So just a helpful insight:  while you are pursuing the thrill of the sale, think twice before making questionable claims about your product.  Even if you statement isn’t as blatantly flawed as the Y2K statement was, serious buyers will almost certainly do additional research before making a purchase decision and will probably discover that your inflated claim might be either an exaggeration or even an outright falsehood.  Why risk a self-inflicted injury to your credibility?