So you’re in sales and the company you work for has been caught in an apparent lie. So now what?
My first recommendation is to take a breath. It’s amazing how much breathing helps in almost every situation. One way it helps is to give you time to think. There are are few things in particular that you should be thinking about.
First, was the “apparent” lie really a lie. It could just be a misunderstanding born of poor communication. When additional facts are understood the “lie” may not be a lie at all. When you’re shocked by something you find hard to believe get as many facts as possible before labeling any information a lie.
If it turns out that it was in fact a lie then you need to determine whether it was a lie created by malice or a lie created by incompetence. Neither is good but somehow, at least for me, I find it better to be lied to by an incompetent person than a truly deceitful one. Determining if it was a lie that came from incompetence or malice may come down to a gut call. Trust your gut, always trust your gut. Those instincts or that intuition are developed from your life experiences. If you can keep your emotions in check then your instincts are very often correct.
If you decide that the lie is more of a mistake caused by incompetence then you have to decide if it’s a “one off” kind of lie or if a pattern of incompetence causes this kind of thing to happen often. Remember, if you’re representing this company in the marketplace your reputation is on the line as well and to your customers, a lie is a lie is a lie. They don’t really care where it came from.
If you decide that the lie was a pure intentionally fabricated misstatement then you have some tough choices to make. You have to determine if you’re willing to work for that kind of organization and the kind of people who run it. You also have to understand that supporting the lie, either by ignoring it or worse, repeating it, makes you a liar as well. The only thing I’ll say about that is if you’re lying to get business then you may make some money but you’ll never be a success.
And the lies will be exposed eventually, they ALWAYS are.
Let’s not forgot about the what may be the worst lie of all, the “half-truth” lie. Have you ever watched a movie or TV show with courtroom scenes? Remember the oath that witnesses must swear to? They swear to not just tell the truth but to tell the “whole truth.”
Lord Tennyson said, “That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies. That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright; but a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.”
Professional salespeople tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you’re not doing that then you fail at the first test of professional selling, and that’s the test the matters most.