Spotting Liars in Sales

Things to look out for if you think you’re being lied to

Ok, so “lying” is a strong word. Shall we say misled? Perhaps “mis-truthed”? Whatever you want to call it — it doesn’t feel good. In all my years in Sales Training & Coaching, not one single person has ever told me they like to be lied to.

It’s a nasty feeling.

Sometimes we know we are being lied to — no question about it. Other times we get the feeling things don’t add up and we question whether or not someone is being straight with us. Then there are the times when we are convinced someone is being on the up and up with us. Why would she lie about that? Oh, he would never lie to me. I have known him forever. Yeah, right. He’s lying. Problem is, you are the only person around that doesn’t know it. Remember, we don’t want to believe that people are lying to us – so it’s easy to believe everything we hear. But it’s dangerous.

For most people (everyone but pathological and habitual liars) lying is unnatural. It’s hard to do. It’s different. It’s uncomfortable. We need to be on our guard and attentive to clues in sales.

Here are 10 things to pay attention to. Things you won’t learn in school.

Top 10 Clues That You Are Being Lied To

  1. Poor eye contact

Do you trust people that don’t look you in the eye? Most people have a very hard time looking people in the eye when they are lying. Pay attention.

  1. Fidgeting

Kids are classic “fidgeters” when they are lying. Adults do it too.

  1. A sudden sitting up straight in the chair

Any sudden movement (or different movement) can indicate misleading comments. It’s different, uncomfortable and awkward for the speaker. Look out.

  1. Long pause before their answer

It takes a while to think of a lie. They could be conjuring up a story. Pay attention.

  1. Lots of ah’s & um’s on their part

It’s frustrating and sometimes difficult for people to have to lie. People use “ahs”and “ums” out of confusion and frustration – it’s natural.

  1. Stuttering & stammering

Not necessarily an “ah” or an “um” — an out and out stutter. Remember if people aren’t used to lying (they only do so to salespeople) they will be taken a bit off guard too!

  1. Talking in a lower volume

Almost as if not to be heard people will drop their voice when lying. They do it in person and over the phone.  Listen for the change in volume.

  1. Talking too fast

When a slow-talker speeds up it could mean they are nervous.  Nervousness leads to lying. White lies . . .  but still, lies!

  1. Talking too slow

When a fast-talker slows it down it could mean they are thinking it through (so they don’t mess up).  This could be when the lies are coming.

  1. Trying to get off the phone quickly

We all know when we are being rushed. Sometimes the uncomfortable feeling of lying causes people to want to get off the phone quickly.

Are these 10 clues written in stone? Nope. Some people fidget. Some people keep horrible eye contact. Some people just stutter and stammer their way through life. These are things to look out for. Pay attention. You don’t have to like being lied to but you should know when it’s happening.

Ok… so you know you were lied to. Now, what do you do about it? You don’t just go back to what you were doing and hope they were telling the truth. You don’t expect for a minute that they will “own up to it” and come clean. You have to call them out. Call them out “nurturingly.” Key word: Nurturing. This means to nicely disagree with them. Professionally get on the same page. You can do it.

Try these:

  1. I appreciate you saying that but I get the feeling you are uncomfortable moving forward . . . can we talk about it?
  2. I hear what you’re saying but I sense you are uncomfortable or unsure . . . can we talk about it?
  3. I hear what you’re saying but I am seeing something different . . . can we talk about it?

If we live a straight life in a crooked world we will get killed. Sales is sometimes a crooked world (I don’t like it any more than you do). But we do have to deal with it.

Final question: How many times have you added an opportunity to your pipeline (or kept one on your pipeline) when you knew damn well it was not coming through? How many time did you “believe” what they said when you knew otherwise. Reality is: Hear what they say and watch what they do and you sometimes get 2 different movies.

Enough said.

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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