One of the most fundamental business principles is that people like to do business with people they know, like and trust. Everyone who has any type of sales role must keep this front-and-center. Companies devote considerable effort getting their names and products known within their target markets, and the best sales professionals know the importance of being likeable. Sometimes, though, in their zeal for “making the sale,” they present exaggerated claims about their products.
For 24 years, part of my job working for two different hospital associations was serving as primary gatekeeper for companies seeking the associations’ endorsements. Over those 24 years, I heard hundreds of sales pitches from wannabe vendor partners. Of course, every company tries to stand out from its competitors, and I heard many claims of various products being the only ones of their type on the market. Sometimes this was true, and sometimes it was not.
In the day of Google and other search engines, people can enter a few key words and instantly discover how valid those statements of uniqueness are. If they are false, it tells me one of two things. Either:
· The vendor representative is so ignorant about the market that he doesn’t even know who his competitors are or what their products offer. If this is the case, I’m not impressed by his commitment to his product or company.
· The vendor knows the claim is an exaggeration. If this is the case, he has taught me that I can’t trust what he says.
In either case, they’ve lost me.
Preserve your credibility above everything else by knowing your competitors and by providing accurate information about your product and your position in the marketplace. If you claim to be the leading company in a particular category, make sure you have some legitimate statistics to support that claim. For example, “We are the largest supplier of imaging equipment based on . . .” And then tell them the basis of that claim: total number of machines in the field/total revenue/number of client locations or whatever metric you are using. As I said, people like to do business with people they know, like and trust. Make sure you don’t mess up this last one.