Last week I received a call from an entrepreneur. He’s got a successful business, and he just started a new business. This entrepreneur called to ask me to help him with one question he had about providing references to a big prospect he was close to closing. I mentioned a couple posts about providing references, and he replied that he had read all of them.
In the middle of the sales process, this entrepreneur-salesperson mentioned to his prospective client that he could provide references of big, reputable companies should they require them. As they approached the time to decide, they asked him to provide those references. His problem is that his new business doesn’t have the references he casually mentioned to his prospective clients.
I don’t know the person I am writing about here. But I don’t think that he is guilty of malice aforethought when he promised to provide the references he didn’t have. I suspect he was caught up in the moment when he made that promise.
I didn’t have a lot to offer the caller in the way of helpful ideas. The best I could do was to tell him that I would tell them the truth, that I didn’t have any references from this new business, but that I have plenty from my existing business that could vouch for my character. I told him that he could also make them a special deal to avoid the risk of being his first customer in the new business if they needed greater assurance than references from his other business.
It’s important not to make promises casually. You may not believe that the promise is a big deal or that you are going to have to keep it. But your prospective client is likely to remember.
You never want to start a relationship with a lie. There is no business that is worth gaining if you have to lie to obtain it. Even little white lies.