Business can get confusing. Especially if you believe what you hear — from your customers.
The relationship between buyers and sellers is a conflicted one. Buyers need the knowledge and access that sellers have. In turn, sellers need the revenue that buyers provide.
The more each needs the other, the more comical the conversation between the two becomes.
What starts off as subtle positioning and conversation reframing all too often turns into a web of embarrassingly silly catch phrases. Statements that each side is unwilling to admit as just “white lies”.
But lies that we want to believe.
We say things like:
- “Action is being taken” when we really mean “Your email is lost and we are trying to remember what we last talked about and who you are…”
- “Essentially complete” when we really mean “We might be halfway done…”
- “Your approval is needed” when we really mean “Put your neck on the chopping block for me, please…”
- “For your information” when we really mean “We don’t know what to do with this, so please keep it…”
- “Give us your opinion” when we really mean “Your warped opinion will be pitted against your competition’s good sense and cheaper price…”
- “It’s in process” when we really mean “It’s so wrapped up in red tape that the situation is basically hopeless…”
- “Let’s get together” when we really mean “I am assuming you’re as confused as I am. Maybe we can figure something out together.”
- “Not well-defined right now” when we really mean “We haven’t even thought about it until right now…”
- “Please discuss” when we really mean “I don’t know what the hell this is. Fill me in, please…”
- “Get back to me ASAP”when we really mean “Please be efficient so I don’t look as lazy as I really am…”
- “Regards” when we really mean “Thanks for reading all my ridiculous bull-shit…”
- “Reliable Source” when we really mean “Some dude somewhere who has an opinion that we want to use against you…”
- “It’s promising” when we really mean “We don’t want you to know that the client forgot about doing business with you…”
- “Review and comment” when we really mean “Do the dirty work so I don’t have to…”
- “Problems but doable” when we really mean “It will take a miracle to pull off…”
- “Put together a team” when we really mean “Seven people who are incompetent at their regular jobs have been chosen to make the decision…”
- “Under consideration” when we really mean “Never heard of it…”
- “We are aware of it” when we really mean “We hoped the fool who started this would have forgotten about this already…”
- “We’re taking a survey” when we really mean “We desperately need more time to think of an answer…”
- “We’ll look into it” when we really mean “By the time you leave our office we’ll have both forgotten about all of this…”
- “We got your email” when we really mean “We don’t really know what you want…”
- “We’ll get back in touch” when we really mean “We might tell you part of the story if we figure out how best to position what we really want from you…”
Look beyond the easy answer.
It’s hard to tell the truth. Remember that when you find yourself embroiled in this silly cycle of “don’t tell me what I don’t wan’t to hear”.
Assume that the real excuse isn’t the one being given. It’s probably the exact opposite of what you are being told. It’s always what it’s not…
You don’t need to be jerk and call your business prospects a liar. That won’t get you very far in business.
But neither will being naive.
A better approach is to keep asking hard questions kindly until you find out what is the real motivation in the discussion.
If you keep asking “What makes you say that?” you’ll find out what’s going on.
Even if it isn’t an answer you really wanted to hear.