Most merchant level salespeople (MLSs) know the value of being honest with merchants and building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. And on any given day, when sales reps initiate in-person or telephone sales calls, they typically don't consciously intend to lie or deceive. Sometimes, however, MLSs can become dishonest in the heat of the moment without realizing their statements might lead to immediate sales but end in irrevocable damage.
"It's not OK for sales reps to lie, even a little," Paul H. Green wrote in Good Selling!SM: The Basics. "This extends to exaggerating, omitting key information and expressing wishful thinking as fact. It's better to establish trust and risk losing one particular sale than to lie to a customer and risk losing that prospect forever ‒ and anyone he or she may talk to."
There are many types of lies. They can range from personal, flattering white lies to minor omissions and exaggerations to significant and pathological distortions of facts and omissions of vital truths. White lies typically do not do anyone harm; pathological distortions and glaring omissions are basically indefensible.
Many consider minor exaggerations and omissions to be in more of a gray area, and this is one place where MLSs should tread carefully, indeed, because there are critical distinctions to be made.
An MLS may, for example, fail to bring up a minor matter pertaining to a merchant's contract because the MLS has determined the prospect has already absorbed all the information he or she possibly can for the time being. Before exiting or ending the call, the agent would let the merchant know there are a few more details to discuss in a follow-up visit or call. Alternatively, a rep might avoid a minor topic because the MLS knows it would upset the prospect and lead to a lost sale.
The distinction here, and perhaps in all forms of lies, is whose best interests does the rep have at heart? This question should be uppermost in every MLS's mind when speaking with current and prospective merchant customers. If you tell a white lie to brighten a favorite merchant's mood on a wintry day or if you clarify aspects of a deal in increments rather than all at once to make it easier for a merchant to comprehend, it appears you have that individual's needs at heart.
On the other hand, if an agent guarantees that a merchant will receive 24/7/365 support, knowing full well what this really means, in practice, is that it's possible to leave voicemail messages at an 800 number anytime, but the wait for a return call is typically 48 hours; this serves only the agent's interest in making a sale; it cannot be construed in any way as having the merchant's best interests at heart.
Many people are drawn to the payments industry because they know the residual income it provides can be a path toward realizing their fondest financial and personal dreams. But unless helping merchants reach their goals is central to an MLS's mission, residual streams will run dry, and visions of success and prosperity will be only a distant memory.
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