Buyers are Not Liars – Sales eXchange 18911

By Tibor

Buyers not liars

A few years ago I did a three day program in California, the first day one of the participants, a very likable fellow, kept repeating a common phrase used by sellers – “buyers are liars”.  I told him I did not agree and moved on.  The next day, same guy, had switched phrases slightly, and he was reminding me of another popular falsehood that “sellers are liars”; again I questioned the accuracy of the statement.  By the third morning I was a bit worried because the only one left in the equation who had not been accused of lying was me, the trainer, all day I waited for him to state “trainers are liars”, while he didn’t, I am sure he thought about it.

There are too many sales people who believe and will tell you that buyers are indeed liars; sadly there are some sales leaders who will reinforce this myth.  Buyers are people, and in general people are not liars (can’t speak for politicians), therefore buyers in general are not liars.

The reality is that prospects who do not buy, who lead you on, who go radio silent at a point, and fail to tell you why, are often lying.  Not in the evil way that many sales people in the heat of the moment believe, it is more the case of these prospects seeking a merciful way letting a seller down, while they have less than zero intentions of buying, they find it hard to come right out and tell you and break your heart.  If they did buy from you, you would overlook a white fib or two, after all you closed the deal, you got the “right” result, they bought.  It’s when they don’t buy that you get all out of sorts and resort to calling them liars; so if we’re going to resort names and labels, let’s get it right: prospects sometimes lie.

Most of the time they are not lying, they may be confused or undecided, or again, not sure how to let us down, but in any case the problem is ours, something many in sales do not want to face.

Did we ask the right questions?  A common occurrence is a seller going down the path with a buyer only to discover that the person is not empowered to make a decision.  Sure I can tell myself they lied, or I can ask myself how I could have discovered it earlier, and moved to engage the right people.

Another is when you “know” they need your product, or “know” they are looking, hey after all you were referred to them, yet they insist that they are “all set”.  Are they lying or are we not fully engaged, and conducting an effective discovery process?  Just because we are not getting the answers we want does not mean we are being lied to, I think it is more often the case of the wrong or bad question, rather than a bad answer.

As stated above, buyers are people, and people generally do not lie, unless they feel they have no other option in the situation, lying is easier than the alternative.  It is up to us as sellers to offer the alternative, and leave the buyer with lying as the only option to stop our assault.  Takes work, but pays off too.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto



  1. Febrina Tanghal

    Well, I agree that this is a common scenario during the sales process. One moment you thought that you had the sale in the can, only to find out in the end your buyer backed off and not heard from again. Yes, sales can be that frustrating, but you just have to keep on pushing.

    • Tibor Shanto

      Febrina Tanghal,

      While I agree, you need to keep moving forward, I think it is prudent to take a minute to understand what happened so when you move forward you can incorporate lessons learned.

      Thanks for the input,

  2. Hugh Sutherland

    Hi Tibor,
    Yes, buyers do lead salespeople on because some can’t get the message – “I am not in the market right now so stop wasting my time”.
    My experience with salespeople is they fail to first develop a relationship with their clients before they jump into order taking. My experience is that building the relationship is the difficult part but once established a mutual trust overcomes the possibility of being lied to. Trust is a two-way street upon which all sales are built, nobody will buy from someone whom they distrust.

    • Tibor Shanto


      Great point, sometimes the lack of mutual trust causes deals to fall apart, and the buyer is just not comfortable enough to tell the seller why.

      Thanks for the feedback,

  3. Indrabir

    Some fair comments there however how many times have you found that when you are in with procurement or the buying team will they tell you one thing then another, make a commitment and not keep it. If sales people acted as unprofessionally as many of these buyers we would be out on an ear.

    Let each decide whether to call it lying or letting you down gently the result is the same and so often the poor sales guy who asked all the right questions at all the right times to have some one go back on them because they want the best “deal” or his manager changed his mind doesn’t sit quite right.

  4. Tibor Shanto


    Nothing is 100%, and there will be times when we are mislead, but I would also submit that there ways sales people can test this. But simply saying buyers are liars when things don’t go our way, rather than examining what we could have done differently, is not what a sales pro should settle for.

    Thank you for the comment,

  5. Karri Flatla

    It took me oh, many years to internalize this truth but now that I’m in real estate it’s even more glaringly obvious than when I was consulting:

    If you attract the right clients and invest in the right kind of relationship-building PROCESS, the “close” happens automagically.

    Of course, there are many “closing” moments along the way, but every time we ask a great question or just shut up and really listen, we lay another brick of trust … and loyalty.

    It’s waaaay too easy to blame the customer. Sure you get a lemon once and a while (like with anything in life). But most of the time people just need to be taken care of. If they are dancing around the truth, there is usually a good reason for that.

    I blogged this one. Thanks for the hit of inspiration over here on the B2C side ;-)
    Great post.

    • Tibor Shanto


      Thanks for the input, it is important to focus on the reason rather than the blame.


  6. Nuno

    Clients are liars, they don’t walk their talk or they don’t walk their talk. I’m talking about selling very expensive furniture, they say they will buy lots of items just to get a discount and buy one single item or a only a few but trying to take you out any ability to make a profit. They too talk about buying some expensive items but very poorly dressed or with indecent skin, air and theets care. Give yourself the blessed atribute of holy patience and they will buy something from you while you keep your eyes on real good clients with a problem for you to solve and little time to waste.

    • Tibor Shanto


      I don’t agree that buyers are liars, they just played that one better.

      The question is what can you do to avoid that in the future and create a level playing field for all.



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