THE TOP 5 REASONS YOU SHOULDN’T LIE TO A CLIENT
Misleading customers is wrong … and for plenty of reasons
There is no denying that
trust is at the core of every
enduring relationship. Once trust
is broken, it’s nearly impossible to repair.
By Michael Wayne
With just a handful of games left in the regular season, the Baltimore Orioles hold a two-and-a-half-game lead in the American League East and are on pace to be the second Major League Baseball (MLB) team to notch 100 wins this year. That’s pretty amazing, considering that last year the Orioles won just 83 games all season and, in 2021, they were 52-110. In fact, including the COVID year, Baltimore has only had one winning season since 2017.
They haven’t made the postseason since 2016, have only been in the postseason five times going back to 1996, and haven’t won a World Series since Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” took hold of the radio airwaves in 1983.
You would think that this would be a time for nothing but celebration and that everyone associated with the team would be in a great mood. Alas, such was not the case when in July, Orioles television play-by-play announcer Kevin Brown was reportedly suspended for on-air comments he made during Baltimore’s series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Brown’s “horrific” offense, in the eyes of the owners, revolved around him stating that the Orioles had already won more games at Tropicana Field (home of the Rays) in the current season than they had in the previous three campaigns combined.
Supposedly, the owners felt that made them sound cheap. Bear in mind, the Orioles have not ranked higher than 27th in payroll since the 2017 season, and there are 30 MLB teams.
Brown’s comments weren’t a dig. They were hard, cold facts—facts that the team’s public relations staff had included in their pregame media package. There was even a graphic to accompany Brown’s commentary with the information. This wasn’t an off-the-cuff slip.
Multiple people had a hand in Brown’s reporting yet, as far as I am aware, no one else was suspended for simply telling the truth. The backlash from Brown’s media brethren and Oriole’s fans was swift and extensive.
As sales professionals, truth matters. Certainly, there are merits in stroking a client’s ego, but misleading them when it comes to ensuring proper coverage is not the way to go. Simply stated, here are the top five reasons you shouldn’t lie to a client.
Your reputation could suffer irreputable harm. There is no denying that trust is at the core of every enduring relationship. Once trust is broken, it’s nearly impossible to repair.
When a client is in a situation where they are not bound to do business with you and can choose to take their business elsewhere, the likely will if they know that you have lied to them about something … especially when that something involves the protection of their home, family, or business.
Additionally, you’re a representative of your agency and by lying you can also damage your organization’s reputation.
Your lies could hurt co-workers. Our work ecosystems often rely on collaboration. If you tell a client that a specialist from your organization will provide them with 30 hours of expertise a month, overcommitting them, the ramifications could be great for everyone involved.
Your co-worker may, unjustifiably, be labeled as someone who cannot get the job done, despite the fact that you set them up for failure. This is not the way to endear yourself to colleagues you are reliant upon to be successful. It’s also a good way to turn off other colleagues from wanting to work with you.
You’re reinforcing the public’s negative opinion of the industry. How many people outside of the industry do you know who have a warm, fuzzy feeling about insurance? “Honest,” “trustworthy,” “patient,” and “upstanding” are not at the top of the adjective list when it comes to describing our world.
Lying only serves to strengthen such attitudes and makes it more difficult for people to get the coverage that they truly need.
You’re not as good at it as you think you are. Even if you aren’t always called out on it, more times than not, people know when you are lying to them. This includes lying by omission.
Just like when you are watching a movie and your eyes can detect when CGI is being used, most clients or prospects know when they are being told what they want to hear or if something is being held back.
You’re not an actor. Don’t pretend you’ve had lessons and, even if you have, this isn’t the stage to practice your thespian capabilities.
You’re not going to accomplish what you think you will. Whether your goal is to gain a client, keep a client, or get more from a client, lying will ultimately thwart your efforts.
Eventually, you are going to be found out and, even if you have managed to bring a prospect onboard as a client, they are going to drop you as soon as they figure out what’s been going on and that you don’t really have their best interest at heart.
Lying typically comes from pure malice or because someone is trying to cover up a mistake, it seems. For the former, I can only impart the advice to not be a bad person. For the latter, mistakes happen. The best thing to do is to explain to the client what happened; own it; and do your job by implementing the appropriate corrective action that ensures it won’t happen again.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.