Integrity: Do You Have It?

Published on December 2, 2000

If you were to ask me what is the most valuable tool all successful salespeople have, it is their integrity. There is nothing more sacred than one’s word.

Recently, my wife and I purchased a new alarm system from a well-known company.

When the salesperson came to the house, he gave an excellent presentation. The sales person promised he would be at the house at time of installation. He wasn’t and this was the first signal that maybe his word was not to be believed.

During the installation, promises were not kept. After calling the salesperson back several times, he finally returned the call and said he would get back to us the following day with a new date to fix the installation. He didn’t. Signal Number Two.

Now, here comes the finale! After traveling and waiting three weeks with still no contact, it took 3 pages before we heard from the salesperson. During the phone call, he blatantly claimed that he left 3 messages on both my office and home voice mail. I immediately shot back and told the
individual to never insult our intelligence again. There were no messages!

Needless to say, our trust factor in him and his well-known company has been drastically reduced. After the first broken promise, the trust factor probably went from 90% to 75%. After the second broken promise, it went down to 50%. And after the blatant lies, it hovered around 0%. Referrals at this point are obviously not an option.

All of us spend an enormous effort to build trust with our clients. How much of this established trust do you personally lose if you break one promise? How about after two promises are broken? After three broken promises?

It is fair to say that most of the time broken promises go beyond your control. What you were counting on did not happen and therefore you could not deliver on your promise to the client. Not your fault, right? WRONG!!! While you may have not received the support you needed to keep your promise, you still have a responsibility to inform and update your customer as to what they can expect.

Unfortunately broken promises do happen. That’s not the main reason you lose business. It is not communicating, being up front and informing the customer of what to expect that causes business to go elsewhere. And if you try to hide from the broken promise by claiming you did something when the customer claims you haven’t, you can then kiss the relationship goodbye.

In 2001, make a commitment to honor all of your promises. Never make promises you know will be hard to keep. Competition can come out with better products and prices. But they cannot replace your integrity. Only you have control over your integrity, and in the end, it can become the differentiating factor.

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