Written by: Ken Kupchik
There’s a popular expression in the sales community, “buyers are liars.”
This refers to the fact that sometimes your customer’s lying and trying to mislead you during a sales transaction.
This can happen for several reasons, including the customer trying to get a better deal, or to avoid being pressured by the sales rep. It’s important to note that not all customers lie to salespeople. But, it does happen more frequently than non-sales employees think.
In order for a salesperson to do their job effectively (besides having a Proactive CRM, like Spiro, to help them be more effective and efficient), they need to know when they’re being lied to. Otherwise, they risk wasting their time, or risk offering a deal or product that isn’t the best fit for the customer, or one that they won’t qualify for.
So how do you tell whether someone is lying to you or not? Here are some tips that will help you figure it out:
1. They pause before answering simple questions
It’s natural and encouraging if a customer thinks before they answer a question. But, if they’re taking too long to respond to a question that should be easily and quickly answered, then this might be an indicator that they’re lying.
Consider the context of the discussion you’re having. If you ask a prospect, “What are the problems your organization is trying to solve?,” then it’s perfectly acceptable for the prospect to take some time to think their answer through. But, if you ask the prospect if they’ve reached out to any of your competitors, and the prospect is silent, they might be trying to mislead you.
2. They hide their eyes, or try to avoid making eye contact
There’s a major caveat to this, and that’s the fact that there are quite a few people who get nervous in social situations. These people naturally try to avoid making eye contact. However, if the person you’re speaking to is communicating effectively and then suddenly changes their demeanor when a question or a topic comes up, then something might be going on.
People who are lying tend to shield their eyes, or even cover their mouth. They may also want to avoid looking at you after they tell a lie. Body language can tell you a lot! Be sure to look for these social cues if you’re unsure whether or not you’re getting a straight answer from your prospects.
3. Non-congruent gestures
A non-congruent gesture is when someone’s physical behaviors don’t match up what they’re saying. For instance, a person might answer “yes” to a question while subtly shaking their head “no”. Or perhaps, seemingly answer a question with great confidence while shrugging their shoulders.
The person might be lying but their body isn’t. Noticing this might take some practice, but you’ll be surprised how much your physical responses can reveal.
4. Inconsistencies that show your customer’s lying
This is a fairly obvious way to identify whether or not your prospect is lying. Serious inconsistencies in their story or explanation is a great indicator that you’re not getting the truth. By nature, salespeople are hopeful and optimistic, which makes this challenging.
We oftentimes overlook inconsistencies and continue on in conversation with the prospect. This is fine, if the inconsistencies aren’t likely to affect your deal. However, you’re always taking a risk because if someone is lying about one thing, chances are they’re lying about something else as well.
5. They become very still
Another sign of lying, is if all of a sudden your customer becomes very still. Humans have a fight-or-flight response mechanism and sudden stillness may signal that the person is preparing themselves for a confrontation. During normal conversation, people are usually relaxed and have natural unconscious movements. If your prospect suddenly has a rigid response, this could be a sign of deception.
Liars understandably want to distance themselves from their lies. One way they do this is by using impersonal language. Instead of using words like “I” or “me”, a liar will start saying, “he” or “she”. They will also shy away from using people’s names.
While this might be a tougher detail to pick up on, combined with any and all of the above signs, you might actually have a buyer who is a liar on your hands.
Whether or not you’re able to identify a liar will come down to how well you’re able to pay attention. Sometimes your gut will tell you that something is amiss, but surprisingly, a study showed that people with higher emotional intelligence were less able to identify when someone was lying. In any case, try to get to the truth, or at least close enough to it to get the sale.
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