Over-Promising, Cover-Ups, Lies, and Stretching the Truth in Sales

My Mother and Father taught me that cheaters never prosper and telling lies was a sin.  Regardless of your religious persuasion, it is, in my opinion, unethical to lie and cheat.  Period.

So why do people stretch the truth when it comes to business and getting ahead?  Do they think exaggerating the truth puts you in higher regard with others, earns you more money, or pays homage to your success?  Maybe for a minute…. but what about the long run?  What happens when things begin to unravel and you are caught holding a ball of twine?

Outright lies are the worst.

I find it totally unacceptable for people to tell lies about anything, but especially to get ahead, to sell a product, or to disparage the reputation of a person or company.  Liars know that when they speak untruths, it is oftentimes very hard to undo — after all, you can’t really un-hear words — those lies are always in the back of your mind regardless of whether you believe them or not.

Lies are often spoken by some of the most professional, highly-educated, and influential people so as to get ahead in business.  Look at some of the high profile instances in history.  Read the Internet.  While the “little white lies” spoken in the hotel sales arena probably won’t get you prison time or jeopardize your hotel’s profitability, it will make you look unethical and damage your professional reputation if found out.

Lies are also spoken by people with little to no education.  They use falsehoods to “get back at employers” or try to hurt a business by using social media and review sites to propagate mis-truths. Recently a disgruntled associate stated on social media that her former hotel had bed bugs in the rooms and thieves working at the hotel.  How do you undo this types of media exposure so that future customers don’t use this as bias when selecting a hotel for their company’s travel?  Would you stay at a hotel that was said to have bed bugs…. even if there is probably a chance they don’t have a problem?

In both cases, eventually the truth will come out.  But, will your reputation be damaged in the process?  How long will it take to undo lies about you and your hotel?  Is there legal liability for said actions?

Don't tell lies.
The nose will give you away every time. Don’t tell lies.

Covering up or stretching the truth will always start you off on the wrong foot with any person and potential customer.

You can bet your sweet bippy that the customer will always discover the untruths, especially if you misrepresent your product versus the competition.  Sales persons must always be prepared to talk truthfully about the things they cannot deliver by offering a solution to the problem in advance.  “I am very sorry Mary, but we do not offer complimentary transportation for your guests to get to and from the airport.  We do however, have a trusted transportation service that I can recommend to you.  They are reliable and offer competitive pricing for airport transfers.” 

Why is telling the truth so so hard for some people?  Help yourself out by writing down and PRACTICING resistance selling.  It is paramount to your success as a sales person.

Do not cover up or stretch the truth when it comes to representing your hotel’s capabilities!  Feature – benefit – sell, and nip potential disappointments up front.   If your meeting room only comfortably seats 50 people, don’t sell a meeting for 75 people. “John, our meeting room seats only 30 persons classroom-style.  To comfortably fit 50 people, we will need to use theater-style seating. Will that work for you?”   If you only have 20 guest rooms with 2 double beds, don’t sell a group of 30 and expect 10 guests to be happy about a king bed and a cot/sofa bed.  “Sarah, we only have 15 rooms left with 2 double beds.  I do have 15 kings with sofa beds available.  Will that work for your group?”  Tell the truth.

Is your pool down?  Is your AC out at the hotel or do you have rooms with cable that is down?  Tell the customer in advance and let them decide whether or not to stay.  Have you oversold the hotel and need to walk a customer?  Call them BEFORE they arrive at the hotel and redirect them to the walk-hotel.  Doing this eliminates confrontation at the hotel (most often when the manager has gone home for the day).

Over-promising and under-delivering is also a lie.

Over-promising is still a lie and the customer will always be disappointed when they arrive and discover that you haven’t been renovated recently, your pool is out-of-order, and your wifi is slower than molasses in winter.  When was the last time you updated your website and refreshed your pictures?  If your hotel is 30 years old and you still have the original photos on your website then you are lying to the customer.  Is it worth the risk that the customer will be disappointed and walk out?  Is it worth the risk that they will tell their colleagues and friends about these untruths?

Lying to your boss about what you have or have not done.

Why can’t you just tell the truth.   Transparent excuses didn’t work when you were a kid and they don’t work now.  “The dog ate my homework.  I was sick.  Traffic.  I finished that report on time but it did go through.”  Most professionals know when people are lying just by watching them and/or listening to voice inflections.  Most humans are uncomfortable and feel regret when they lie.  Professional liars feel nothing.

                                     Who’s guilty?

Lying hurts too many people.  “For every action there is always an equal reaction”, as proved by Sir Isaac Newton and detailed in his laws of motion.  Lying has a domino effect — a sales person tells a customer the hotel can do this, and the person responsible for fulfilling the request gets blamed when they cannot.   “I am sorry you were told that we had refrigerators and microwaves in every room.  We do have rooms with those amenities but I do not have any available at this time.”   In layman’s terms, “poo poo runs downhill.”  If you lie you hurt people and you hurt yourself.

My advise…. be truthful and develop the reputation of an honest sales person.  Be the person you want to work with and not the person who claims that “the car only had one owner”.

Happy telling the truth always,

Linda

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