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Sell Genuinely

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A while back, I was sitting in a car dealership on the West Coast waiting to finish signing the papers on the new truck my partners and I picked up for our business start-up.  I was already sold on the truck.  I had one exactly like it in Sioux Falls that I liked to drive, and we decided to get the same one there.  It might be lousy for parking, but it was great for a six-foot-three-inch guy like me.

Problem was, I wasn’t sold on the car salesman.  This was my first time meeting him and he seemed nice and affable, but as we swapped stories about sales and business, he seemed a bit off.  Still, the deal was fine and I was just there to sign the paperwork so I tried not to get too distracted by my feelings.

But I was.

That’s when I spotted a blue Post-it note on his desk, which said in big handwritten letters, “LIE AND FLY.” I looked at him, pointed at the Post-it, and asked, “What’s that mean?”.

The salesman paused and then leaned across his desk.  He said, “Okay, I trust you.  You get it.  It means a lot of time what we do here – not with you of course – is ‘lie and fly.’  The first salesman lies to the customer, telling them what they want to hear and then leaves or flies.  Then a second salesman comes in and works them into the deal we want.”

I got it all right.  I got that this is not someone I wanted to do business with.

Maybe this guy could look himself in the mirror doing business this way, but I doubt it.  He probably avoided mirrors.  And if I let that sale go through, I would violate my principles as a businessman.  I stood up, shook his hand, thanked him, and walked out.  In trying to sell himself, he sold himself and his company right out of a deal, and nobody benefited.

It’s not only about what you’re selling; it’s about how you’re selling it and how you’re perceived when you’re selling it.  That’s also why when I say, “Sell you; sell the company”, the next four words are: “And do it genuinely.”

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