What is Your Word Worth?

When I finished writing Selling Fearlessly, I contacted a number of sales writers to get their opinions of the book and, hopefully, their endorsements; of the 50 or so I wrote to, so far 15 have provided the feedback I sought and 14 have given glowing endorsements. One, Dr. Tony Alessandra, was even kind enough to write the foreword for the book; Chris Lytle has become a friend and mentor. Now that my website is up and running, a number of others are offering additional avenues of support. My gratitude to these wonderful people knows no boundaries. I’ve made a promise to myself to emulate their profound willingness to help a rookie writer.

Another interesting statistic in this saga, though, is this: seven others promised to read the book and get back to me; they didn’t, they simply blew it off. I followed up, of course, and in four cases, after promising a second time to read the material and get back to me, I never heard from them again. Does that surprise me? No, not at all: I dealt with many a callback situation in my selling career (only one out of 30 turned into a sale) and there’s always going to be a percentage of people whose word proves to be unreliable, not worth much. I know they all meant well and are exceedingly busy people, and if they had ignored my request like so many others did, that would have been fine—certainly none of them owed me a thing; but why promise something and then not deliver? Honestly, I would have preferred a none-response to an empty promise; wouldn’t you?

I’m telling you this because, as a salesperson, your word to your customers, the promises you make, mean everything; they paint a portrait of your character. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Action is character.” If you make a promise and then don’t follow up, fail to deliver, break your word, you’ll be judged harshly and your career and reputation will suffer terribly for it. People want to deal with salespeople they can trust and rely on. Don’t you?

In Chapter 41, Credibility, I said it this way: “Always tell the truth; get caught lying and you’re burnt toast—deservedly so. Don’t sell anything you believe is not in the prospect’s best interest. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver, that’s a lie, too.” I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Your word is your bond.” Truer words were never spoken. If it isn’t true, if you don’t mean it, if you’re not going to follow through, don’t say it! If you’re cavalier with your word, it’ll come back to haunt you, it’ll demean you in the eyes of the people you do business with, it’ll do untold damage to every aspect of your being. Don’t allow that to happen. I don’t care if you have to move heaven and earth, make sure you never break your word.