I watched the attached video and my jaw dropped in disbelief.  “Wait a minute,” I said.  “That simply can’t be real!”

I admit that I did think it was real for a short while.  All the elements of authenticity were in place; an authority figure narrating the event (the sportscaster), apparent shock and disbelief on the faces of the participants, and…well, damn I saw it happen.

After a minute of research, however, I discovered that it was a trick, filmed for a Gatorade commercial.

So here’s the question:  If most scams and tricks are easy to discover, why do your customers seem to fall for obvious lies on the part of the competition?

We’ve all been there at some point in our careers.  A client or prospective customer selects the competition because they do everything that your company/product does…plus they have the Klingon Invisibility Cloaking Shield, and their product turns water into wine!

Are you crazy??” you want to say.  “You can’t really believe that can you??”

But of course you can’t say that to your prospect.  You’re trapped between a rock and a hard place.  The “rock” is being obliged to tell the truth yourself.  The “hard place” is your unwillingness to look sleazy by slamming the competition as liars.  Which, of course, they are.

So how do you keep your customers and prospects from falling for bogus competitive claims – short of yelling, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?”

Try these three strategies, and you will find that you can check the competition far more often than not.

  • Early in the process, establish client references as a base-line activity for the sale.  If you’re a start-up and you don’t have live clients, rally experts in the field who can attest to the validity of your claims.  If they are willing to offer unsolicited praise, all the better.  You will then be able to ask which of the competitor’s clients are using the Invisibility Cloaking Shield.  It will seem completely appropriate when you suggest speaking with some of those clients.  None of whom actually exist.

 

  • Be candid about your own product – including its deficiencies.  If the prospect knows that you are a straight shooter, you will be well positioned to gently question the claims of your competitor.  You’ll then be able to say, “We looked into the Invisibility Cloaking Shield – and turning water into wine – and our experts suggest that these things are not feasible using current technologies.”  “I don’t want you to end up being disappointed when you learn that these features have not yet been fully developed.”

 

  • Tell this joke: A man dies and finds himself at the Pearly Gates before St. Peter.  “Would you like to go to Heaven or to Hell?” asks St. Peter.  There is a window looking into heaven and one into hell.  The man peers into the heaven window and sees a bunch of people floating on clouds and playing harps.  Then he looks into the hell window and sees a great looking crowd sipping fancy cocktails poolside while laughing and partying.  “I think I’ll go to hell,” says the man. He immediately finds himself in hell.  Instead of bronzed bodies at the pool, he is surrounded by lakes of fire and sulfurous smoke.  “Hey,” he says to the Devil, “I thought you had swimming pools and cocktails here.”  “Oh,” says the Devil, “You must have seen the demo…”