Buyers are liars, so they say.

Buyers are liars, so they say.

I participated in some sales training last year. One of the trainer’s big points was that buyers lie to you. In fact, his whole approach was very aggressive and even a little combative “in a nice way”.

I am not sure that is the best way to approach a relationship. My experience has been that if I move through the world trusting others, they typically repay me in kind. On those occasions where I run into a buyer that is not trustworthy, it is usually up to me to determine if I chose to go along with the deception or not.

If we are self aware, (and most professionals, I have met, are) we know when someone is not telling the truth. We can then choose, whether or not, to call them on the deception or to go along with it. I have observed many professionals chose to accept the lie (perhaps a stall or delay) in order to avoid hearing “NO”.  They just move on or they keep the deal alive for something to do. This is waste of everyone’s time. I think it is much better to ask the direct question and get the direct answer.
More importantly, we want to go into the transaction with the right mindset. Your mindset, your thinking, your beliefs will all affect the way the buyer (or anyone else) responds to you. We all have been through the courses in Consulting Selling, where we learned how to ask questions to “lead” the buyer to a decision. Buyers can sense your intent very quickly and if they feel they are being “sold” as opposed to being helped to buy; you will see more sales lost than won.  

How are you approaching the relationship? Are you helping them make a decision or are you selling them?

Take Good Care,


  1. Hi John,

    I might be able to think of circumstances where the buyer may not be forthcoming as to what they really want, but in general I hope that buyers are honest.

    From a sales perspective I should be asking myself, “How can I help this customer solve this problem?” But if the buyer is not being honest with me about what the problem is, then I may well come up with the wrong solution.

    Personally I believe that honesty between buyer and seller creates a possible win-win scenario. And that means that I need to build a relationship with my buyers that is built on trust and honesty.

  2. Fine post, John, thank you. My experience is exactly yours–what I give, I tend to get back, both positive and negative.

    My own sense of “buyers are liars” is that it’s true, but not in the sense most sales people mean. Starting off with the suspicious, me-vs-you attitude you describe is guaranteed to bring negative responses down on the seller. What else should you expect if you treat a buyer like a liar?

    The sense in which it is true is the sense in which the buyer is every bit as much captive to his or her own fears as is the seller. The reason why a fearful seller might accept a lie (as you so eloquently describe) is precisely the same reason the buyer lied in the first place: to avoid the emotionally unpleasant, fear-driven consequences of being wrong, being taken advantage of, being rejected, etc.

    So much of selling–and buying–is simply a particular human exercise interactions, with all the attendant fears and exultations that accompany all other human interactions. The “trick,” though it’s hardly fair to call it that, is to remember it’s not all about us, and that if we manage to help others, they’re inclined to help us.

    Buyers are liars? Yeah, and so are sellers; and all for the same fear-driven reasons. Thanks for highlighting this take on the issue.

  3. Dave,

    I agree that most buyers and most individuals are honest, to a point. We all come to a relationship or transaction with our own filters (beliefs).I tend to be one of those that trusts others until given a reason not to. Others that I know literally go into the transaction, “looking to see how I can get screwed so I can avoid it.”  WOW.

    I wholeheartedly agree that when we go in with a WIN/WIN the long term outcome is a WIN for everyone…even if I don’t get this sale!

    Thanks for you feedback

  4. Very well said Charles,

    My approach has been, (and you are right, when Quota deadlines are imminent, it can be hard to remember, but my job is to clearly identify what the buyer needs. And in some cases help them discover what they need through open dialog and Discovery. And then to share how my firm can help meet that need.

    And If my firm cannot meet the need it is much easier to say so and move on than to keep forcing or persuading. This is why so many buyers try to avoid sales people they think they are going to get sold vs. being helped to buy.

    Thanks for your comments.

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