Lies, Falsehoods, and Making Stuff Up

If I had one thing to say to a customer if I was assured there wouldn't be any blowback, it would be this:

You lie to us far more than we lie to you.

Customers lie to me all the time. I get all sorts of things, from "Well, I'm waiting on a settlement to come in, and it'll be here in a few weeks. Can I test drive the (insert name of super-expensive vehicle here)?" to "Well, we like you, and we like the car, we just need to go home and talk about it." And then there's my personal favorite, "Just looking!"


Maybe I'm not being fair. A couple of the statements that I mentioned above are simply conditioned responses to a certain question (not the first one....that one's just false). If I ask you if I can help you, what do you say? You probably say "Just looking" even if you came in to buy something. It's a conditioned response. You are programmed to say it, even if it doesn't make sense to say it. I've had conversations that go like this:

Me: "Hello, folks! Welcome to ABC Motors! How are you today?"

Man: "Just looking!"

Me: "Well, that seems like an interesting way to be."

Man: "We're just looking!"

But, simply because something is a conditioned response doesn't mean that it's not a lie. You're not just looking. You're looking for something, otherwise you wouldn't waste a perfectly good afternoon at a freaking parking lot surrounded by guys who are going to ask you if they can help you. Whew.

You don't come onto the lot unless you're at least thinking about buying a car. That's why we salespeople are trained to be so persistent. We have to cut through so many layers of crap to get to what your real intentions are that we have sharpened our verbal scalpels to peak performance.

If you're not ready to buy, what do you say to us? You have spent a lot of our time going over figures, having us show you vehicles, and lots of other time-consuming stuff. You don't want us to feel like you've completely wasted our time, so you fob us off with some mealy-mouthed excuse about how you and the wife or husband or gynecologist need to "talk about it and get back." It doesn't mean anything. What you are really trying to say is "I don't feel like you've sold me on the vehicle and convinced me I am getting a good deal." Remember, my job is to make you feel good about the numbers that I'm presenting to you. That's as much my fault as it is yours, but that's what you mean, just the same.

At the same time, there's really nothing for us to lie to you about. The price? Hey, the price is what it is. It's fluid, usually, but that doesn't mean that we're lying about it. The year? It's on the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). The miles? Digital odometers CANNOT be rolled back. Previous owners? We really don't know, and we might say what we think is the case, but there's always CARFAX to verify. The mechanical soundness of the vehicle? Feel free to do your own inspection, and take it to your personal mechanic if necessary.

Most of the time, what you think we're "lying" about is just stuff that we're making up at the time because we don't know the real answer, and most of the time we will tell you as much. Personally, I've told customers something that I didn't know was true or not, and I usually say "I think" or "I believe" when I tell them. I'm not trying to lie. Lying gets you fired and is not the way to make honest money.

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