Are You Selling Snake Oil?

You may have heard that a person’s decision to buy something is at the core an emotional decision. I know none of us want to admit to that. We all think we are different from everybody else. But we’re not. Think about it. Have you ever bought anything and later looked back and realized that the so-called “rational reasoning” you though you used when you made your decision to buy was actually somewhat irrational? Now consider purchases you have made that still seem like good ones. If it has been a while since the purchase, you even then may be able to see that you really didn’t make your decision in a completely rational manner. In fact, there is a good possibility that shortly after committing to the purchase you began to rationalize it in your mind. That probability is even greater if someone questions the wisdom of your purchase decision.

It’s Only Human

Give yourself a break. Everyone does this to some extent. Yes, we may go through the process of trying to weigh the pros and cons of a purchase decision, but eventually it is emotion that tips the scales one way or the other. But, knowing this, do we as business people have an obligation that we may not have considered.

Is it Snake Oil?

When we are trying to get others to buy our products or services, do we have an obligation to make sure we are selling something besides snake oil? Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying we should bad mouth our offer to discourage others from buying. I’m merely saying that we should try to align our offer as much as possible with what others can actually benefit. I’m not talking about those times when it is clearly a frivolous buying decision, but rather those times when it is clear that someone is seeking solutions and has come to us for help. Do we not have an obligation to listen carefully to what it is that they are seeking and then carefully match our solution to their problem? In other words, be sure that the benefits we express are genuine and relate to what they are truly seeking.

In the Long Run It is Better

If we make the effort to truly match products and services to genuine needs, customers will be happier and far more likely to return in the future. The same thing applies in our relationships in general, whether in our personal life or business.

A Little Story

Years ago I was in a conference call where my client and one of his employees were having a discussion with a major vendor. My client was a very new one and was having serious financial issues. The vendor was concerned about the situation and trying to get clear on future expectations. As the conversation proceeded, my client and his employee began to say things to the vendor that they thought he wanted to hear. Unfortunately, I knew these things to be incorrect. As a professional it is extremely important to me to maintain my integrity, and because of this I attempted to make corrections where needed. After the conference call was over, the client’s employee actually said to me, “You have to be willing to lie to a vendor. That’s the way business works!” My reply was simple, “Not any business where I am involved!” Not long after that I parted company with this particular client and not long after that he was out of business. Somehow I think his efforts to sell a picture of his company to the vendor that was nothing more than verbal snake oil played a role in the failure of his company.

How about you and your company? Are you operating with integrity or are you selling snake oil?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


Leave a Reply

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner