You and I know each other from an association we were both involved with. I see you at an event and we sit together to get caught up. You suggest we grab lunch one of these days. A few days later you email with some possible days to schedule that lunch. We schedule it and the day arrives.

Now, what should I expect?
Should I expect that we are going to continue to learn about each other?
Should I expect that you are going to pitch your product or service?

I can honestly say that I expected lunch but got a pitch. I felt ambushed. I wasn’t expecting it and it really caught me off guard. It also got me thinking.

This kind of thing goes on every day in the business world. And it’s a problem.

If you want to prospect to me, then do it. Tell me that you’d like to schedule a time when we can talk about what I am currently doing for the product or service you provide. Ask me if I’d be interested in learning more about it. Be honest.

Now, maybe I’m naïve to think that someone I know wants to just have lunch. Maybe it’s naïve to think that people aren’t always selling; that they like to spend time building their networks and relationships. Whether it’s naïve or not, I’m right.

Sales and business are about relationship building. And relationships are best built on honesty and trust.

Sales people who use tactics like the one mentioned above do a lot of damage to themselves. They are really saying that building trust is secondary to getting business. What they don’t realize is that the other party is left wondering how they’d be treated if they became a client. If you’re not going to be upfront at this stage, what guarantee do I have that you’ll be upfront later on? I have a feeling I’d be left high and dry once the sale was made.

So, why do people do it? Either they were taught this by a sales manager or trainer at some point in their career, or they think if they admit their intent at the outset they won’t get the meeting. If that’s how they were trained they might want to give some real thought to how successful the behavior has been for them. Are they getting clients from it?

If they believe they won’t get the meeting if they say why they want to meet, that’s a clue. If I don’t want to explore your product or service when you ask me if I’d like to set up a meeting, I’m really not going to want to explore it when you bring it up out of the blue at lunch.

However, I’ll have more respect for you if you are honest about your reason for wanting a meeting than if you blindside me at the meeting. Respect leads to trust. And trust is the key to sales success. So, do you see where I’m going with this? If you value me as a potential client, value me enough to be honest with me. Value me enough to overcome your fear and tell me the truth about your intentions. I may not do business with you but I’ll be more open to referring you to others.