Pinocchio (pi-noh-kee-oh) – The hero of Carlo Collodi’s children’s story, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883), a wooden puppet who comes to life as a boy and whose nose grows longer whenever he tells a lie. – Dictionary.com
A Pinocchio Tax is a subjective penalty paid by both a prospect and sales person due to a previously bad buying experience where lies or a misrepresentation of the truth have resulted in a potential or actual loss.
The prospective buyer’s Pinocchio Tax payment is often manifested in the enablement of a new, but flawed and elongated buying process. In some companies, an abdication of leadership is the result as key buying decisions become delegated to committees who are given influence without authority. This new, dysfunctional buying posture ensures that the best offerings, products, services, and personnel available withdraw from competitive consideration. Dysfunctional sales organizations love these buyers as they have no intention of actually supporting them for the long-term. Given limited time and resources, only desperate sales professionals and bad business managers can give meaningful time and energy interacting with these entities.
The sales professional’s Pinocchio Tax payment is evidenced in forecasted deals evaporating from pipeline reviews. The new, old rules: “It’s ok to lie to the sales person, because they lie to us.” A series of these incidences may result in a sales rep being put on a performance plan and lead to their eventual termination. At a higher level, great companies with awesome, innovative products may be forced to close their doors.
Now that we’re consciously aware of the Pinocchio Tax™ the obvious question is “So what do we do about it?”The short answer is this: Where a large, transformational enterprise opportunity exists, assume the prospect has put multiple people and processes in place to “protect” their company. Put down your briefcase and pick up a virtual bucket and a mop to become The Janitor. Inquire about the “who, what, why, and when” of the customer’s buying process to understand the prospect’s sensitivities and business proclivities. Then offer creative and thoughtful options that may clean up some of the emotional residue and issues left behind in previous bad buying experiences BEFORE going on a full-court sales press.
Becoming The Janitor often doesn’t make sense for short-term, small, transactional deals. But if you’re in the game to do big deals and build long-term collaborative mutually profitable business relationships, you can get paid BIG if you’re willing to help clean up some of the mess others have left behind. We’ll be hearing more about the “The Janitor” further along in the But I Hate Sales Speaker Series.
~Chris Bell 3rd