Lying to Get the Sale

Suzanne Lowe, at The Expertise Marketplace, has a provocative post titled I Told the Truth—and Got Hired Anyway.

Briefly, she faced two sales situations in which she knew she’d be asked the inevitable question: what experience do you have working in our business?

The truthful answer boiled down to, “none at all.”  Since we all know this is the “wrong” answer, it took a certain amount of courage for Suzanne to speak the truth, and even more courage to then avoid rushing into the silence to list the dozens of reasons why she was nonetheless the best for the job, etc.

The punch line in Suzanne’s posting was, of course, that she got the job. And she asked her readers to help explain why.

Now, what I find curious is not the fact that she got the job—but her readers’ explanations for it.

To me, the reason she got the job seemed transparently clear, almost self-evident.  She got the job because she immediately proved she was honest, transparent, truthful—and those personal characteristics in this case outweighed the importance of industry experience—as they frequently, though not always, do.

Yet to my surprise other commenters had different explanations.  Their explanations included:

• Maybe the client saw the greater relevance of her experience in other industries
• This may be the rare client who is not risk-averse
• Maybe lack of industry knowledge meant no bias, hence an open mind—ignorance here is a plus
• Maybe her integrity helped feed a broader sense of chemistry about her

My first reaction to these other reasons (I’m trying to be honest here), was one of disbelief.   It’s always shocking to me when other people don’t see things precisely the way I do.  ("How could these people not see"…."Why don’t they understand…"). 

I mean, don’t you know who I think I am?

Yet, I know some of these commenters. They are bright, experienced, knowledgeable people.

Unfortunately, this means I am denied access to my preferred, first-blush, gut-instinct explanation for why they might disagree with me, namely they’re ignorant fools. (“Damn; I have to take these opinions seriously.”)

So, I have two questions for this audience.

1. What do you make of Suzanne’s tale; why do you think her clients in each case bought her services despite her lack of industry credentials?

2. What do you make of my being shocked at the other answers? What’s your first reaction when you find out someone has a different reaction to something you felt was obvious? And what do you do about it?

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