When I go to the meeting with one of our customers our salespeople are usually feel a bit uneasy. I hate to present The Official Line of the Company when it differs with plain reality. When I know something will be though most likely I’ll say so even if my fellow salesperson would like me to state it would be the simplest thing under the sun.
The things become even worse when I go to the meeting alone with no controller… I mean colleague from a sales team. I could tell Things You Can Never Tell Your Customer or others dirty secrets. And sometimes I actually do exactly that sort of things. And I do it on purpose.
Very often being frank pays back. If you pretend to have competence in some area which you hear about for the first time in your life you most likely will be caught on that. You’ll lose your credibility as an effect. Doesn’t worth a try. If you say a project is almost completed while you know your quality engineers have just scored a record number of bugs submitted in a single day while testing that crap… I mean application you’ll end up with “deceiver” label.
Departing with the truth doesn’t bring real value. OK, sometimes being honest can bring poor consequences – a typical example is losing a deal when you’re the only vendor who was 100% frank about feature range, while all others have everything in their applications. However most of the time being honest brings positive outcome. You gain credibility, you can act along with the customer to find better way out of the problem, you can prepare all parties to the incoming disaster. The latter is of course a virtual example.
My advice is: be frank when you talk with your customers. Be frank always when it’s neutral or you believe it will pay back, which means most of the time.