The Strategy Addict is a series of articles written by Shane Snively.
FLIP THE TACTICS
The “fake it before you make it” approach being propagated by business marketing gurus is misleading, and, dare I say, UNETHICAL. Declaring you have done something or misrepresenting your products or capabilities is lying. Lying is the first step in a very slippery slope of destroying your brand and reputation while building a foundation of confusion for your team.
DON’T LIE (FLIP IT)
I contend you can make all the sales you want or need while being ethical and true to your capabilities. The most successful companies all have a strong reputation. Reputation is a very critical step in any sales cycle, brand launch, or problem fix. Having an established brand reputation is defined as delivering on what you say you can do.
Honesty = Consumer Trust
FLIP THE FAKE IT APPROACH
So, what should you say if you are asked: “can your product fix an untested need or problem?” For some companies, their people, and leadership, the question is a real conundrum. For me, the question is simple; I would start with the truth.
“I am not sure.”
By establishing honesty as the basis of any relationship, you are taking the first tactical step to building trust. The “I am not sure” response immediately sets the stage for a much deeper, more genuine conversation with your client, in which you can pinpoint their needs and expectations. As you start to uncover more details, you can be honest with yourself about whether you can fulfill the client’s expectations. This way, all parties understand the risk and rewards before going any further.
BEFORE SETTING FOOT ON THE BOAT
Uncertainty is hard to deal with in any new venture. Maybe you’re getting on board the Titanic, you don’t know. So, before you get onboard, ask these crucial upfront questions:
- Are you the captain, mate, or navigator, of the ship?
- How solid does the ship look?
- Do you like the crew?
- Do you agree on the destination?
- Do you have time to explore?
- What kind of treasure are you sailing for?
MAP IT ALL OUT
It is critical to have alignment and consensus defined with each step. This is called the scope of your engagement. Be detailed when you can, but not restrictive, ensuring room for creativity and the innovative pursuit of ideas. Make sure to spell out all the roles, responsibilities, costs, fees, and expectations.
Being honest upfront leads to collaboration, constant improvement, and quality. Don’t fake it—really make it.