My Dad called it; “lying through omission”. It’s when you intentionally leave out information someone needs to make a completely informed decision. It’s many peoples way of skirting an issue without saying they lied. But it is lying.
If you are a software salesperson and you know a new version of your software is coming out in 3 months and if your customer buys today they will have to pay to upgrade in 90 days, leaving that information out is lying through omission.
Your lying if you tell a customer your software is compatible with their accounting system, when it’s NOT compatible with the specific version they have. Your lying if you are selling a home with a view and you know a skyscraper is going up in front of you next year and you don’t disclose it. You’re lying if you promote your rental property as a “beach house” when you can’t access the beach, even it is right out in front. You’re lying anytime you leave out valuable information that can help your customers make an informed decision.
We buy on information. The information provides a vision of what we are purchasing. The vision sets expectations. When you intentionally leave out information the wrong expectations are set and setting the wrong expectations creates frustrated customers.
My family and I recently rented a beach home for our vacation. The ad said kid friendly, yet there were no screens on the windows and my 2 year old fell out the window. They said it was on a beautiful walking causeway, yet we couldn’t access the causeway. They said it was a beautiful California Bungalow. They didn’t say it was an apartment IN a beautiful California Bungalow. They said it was a romantic home, they didn’t say it was sitting directly on a VERY busy street with cars, buses, and emergency vehicles flying up and down it day and night. They said it was 90 yards from the cleanest beach in Venice. They didn’t say to access the cleanest beach in Venice, you would pass by pan handlers, the homeless, smell of Urine in the streets, public drinking, and the aroma of dope in the air. They said it had a view of the ocean. They didn’t say it was from the causeway in front, (that you couldn’t access) and it was only a sliver over a few trees, and buildings. They said it wasn’t a party house and they neighbors respect each other. They didn’t say the neighbors rented their places out and the sound of college kids drinking, smoking dope and playing loud music would go well into the early morning. There was very little about what the ad DID say that wasn’t technically true. It’s what the ad didn’t say that was the problem.
Hiding behind the accuracy of what you said versus owning the reality of the entire situation just makes you a coward. Putting the customer in a position where they have to figure it out for themselves is disingenuous. Good sales people don’t withhold pertinent information. They give an accurate picture of the situation and let their clients and customers make informed decisions.
As marketers and sales people it’s our job to provide all the information. By doing so we are being authentic and genuine and we set the right expectations. The right expectations means satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are repeat customers. Anything else is disingenuous and inauthentic. You may be able to tell yourself you didn’t lie, but you did.
My Dad was right. Lying through omission is no different than any other lie. A lie is a lie!