No Need to Exaggerate

Exaggeration has no place in the serious business of salesmanship. Hyperbole may work well in advertising, but in face-to-face contacts with prospective customers, a salesman who falls into the habit of overstating the value of a product or service runs the risk of alienating clients and losing out on sales.

The manager of a sales staff should make it a point to emphasize that, no matter the offering, a salesman should avoid making grandiose claims during presentations. The salesman should stick to the facts and let these facts speak for themselves.

Mark Twain QuoteCredit: Lane Olinghouse

This requires, of course, that the salesman has all the facts concerning the product or service at hand when giving a sales talk. The manager needs to make sure all the members of his or her staff can answer queries about the offering first hand or can quickly find the answers by referring service manuals or consulting company technicians.

The manager can then encourage the salesmen under his charge to stick to the facts and not rely on exaggerated claims. Exaggerated claims to look out for might include the following examples.

It May Be True ...

... that the current price for a service has been set five percent lower than the firm's previous price, but likely untrue that the price is ten percent lower than that offered by any of the firm's competitors.

John Burroughs QuoteCredit: Lane Olinghouse

... that the salesman's firm can guarantee delivery of an item within two business days but not provably true that no other firm can meet the same tight delivery schedule.

... that new production equipment in operation at the salesman's firm can now turn out a better product than previously, but not so true that a similar item offered by a competing firm possesses inferior qualities.

The salesman prone to exaggeration may provide erroneous claims about the price of a product or service, about promptness in delivery, about superiority of quality, even about longevity of product usefulness. But if these claims prove false, a real danger exists that sales will plummet.

The Simple Truth

Every product or service has a base line of verifiable facts. The sales manager needs to make sure each member of the staff has a working knowledge of these facts, through in-depth seminars and with printed brochures and manuals to which the salesmen can refer.

Aldous Huxley QuoteCredit: Lane Olinghouse

With some products, a salesman can augment the presentation with a bit of show and tell, by letting the prospective customer see or handle a sample of the item. The sample in and of itself can provide a "truth" that will outshine any exaggerated statements made about it. A tour of the production area also can prove enlightening as the customer observes the various stages of the manufacturing process.

A salesman who takes time to study the production process can learn how long it takes to complete different tasks and job assignments. This will provide a more accurate time table with which to base delivery times with some precision.

These are some of the ways a salesman can provide customers with vital information while sticking to the facts and avoiding exaggerated statements.