If you are lucky, your parents have taught you to always be honest with people. Or you want to do that on your own. Nowadays, being honest in business will always mean that you will get better business in the long run.
Why be honest?
In business, being honest means that you will inform anyone you are communicating of an objective, true state of things about you. This will not only set the right level of expectations with the other person (hopefully), but will consequently make it clear for you, whether the person is ready to do business with you.
Unfortunately, online, it is very hard to build trust. That's why to fully understand a potential of each other, one needs to learn a lot. That'd better be objective (honest) information, so that the person image would be formed correctly.
When the person you are talking with doesn't appreciate what you offer, when you are telling the truth about you and your offer, chances are you were not made for each other. Sure, sometimes it may mean that you lose business, because the other person failed to evaluate you objectively or had too high expectations. But it is life, and you can do better business with those, who truly appreciate you.
How to be honest?
When your potential customer needs all clues you can give for him to make the right decision, it is sometimes hard not to exaggerate. But, if you decide to be honest, you need to find other advantages in your offer, becides being sincere.
For example, you need to objectively evaluate you offer and find the best unique benefit your product has and play from there. You can also note other benefits of your products that can be more important to your potential customer (it all depends on your customer, right?). Then, you need to use simple language to translate thoroughly the benefits of your offer.
Does telling the truth mean that you need to tell everything? I'd say it depends. Most importantly, you need to tell everything relevant to the customer that will help him make an objective decision. What that will be, the whole story about you, or the greatest benefit of your product, the choice is yours. In the end, you are trying to provide value, right?
I have spoken the truth, what now?
Unfortunately, it is still hard for people to estimate whether something is worth having business with or not, when the price is high. That's why, if you offer business to business services, or selling an expensive product, you will find that people will turn away from you, once they learn the truth.
Is it that bad, when you turn away people with being honest?
Honestly, I don't think so, but it will also depend on the situation. For example, if people keep ignoring your sincere offer, it means that they won't appreciate your work. It also means that they have high expectations now and will have high expectations in the future. Additionally, it means that such people will have other quirks to deal with, aside from incorrect expectations.
But when you speak honestly and really find the right (targeted) client for you, the chances are he/she will listen. Also, the potential customer might also trust you and agree to work on your conditions. This kind of customers you have always been dreaming of, right? Then speaking honestly is what will help you get them.
That's why the biggest benefit of speaking honestly is that you won't waste time with someone, who won't enjoy your work. Instead, you'll enjoy working with someone, who does.
Earlier, I wrote an article why it is important to enjoy what you are doing to succeed in business. So speaking honestly is just another facet of the diamond here.
The only exception not to tell the truth (don't confuse this with exaggerating or lying, please) is when you desperately need cash to pay the bills and you'd agree to work under any conditions. In this case, the chances are you can do what the client wants, achieve modest results and find a better client or a job.
Real life examples
You may be thinkng "That's all fine and dandy, Yuri, but do you have real life experience with being honest in business? I don't want to risk my business on your words."
Yes, I shouldn't be writing this, if I couldn't back it up.
Let's start small. Earlier, when I was talking with a couple of potential customers, they all wanted to get fast results, cheap and considered me as a lockpick, rather than a locksmith. Telling them that it'd take 3-12 months to achieve significant results with their relatively new online projects seemed to shock them, and like any bearer of the bad news, they started ignoring me afterwards.
Was I disappointed? You bet. Being honest and objective was important and it turned of business away from me. Now that was quite puzzling.
Recently, I talked with a couple of people on working on their projects. Did they want results? Absolutely. But did telling them that I had other projects on my hands and how hard it can be to start out scare them? Yes. But it didn't scare them away. As soon as I said I'd be willing to deliver results, they received the information well and turned out to be quite reasonable in the end.
It all means that:
- in the end, you will get customers
- to be able to get customers, you need to be the best of the pack
- you need to be patient, persistent and believe in yourself
Basically, I understand why Jim Boykin likes 'em old and doesn't take on clients with new websites, and so should you. It makes perfect sence, as it is much easier to increase ROI of an old project, than of a new one, when 80% of all efforts are done in the first half a year - without a lot of return, too. But sometimes, the project can be so useful, but neglected, that it'd be a crime not to work on it.
Also, Jim's business is, perhaps, a great example of being transparent to clients and he is astonishingly happy, as his clients are happy to work with him. I'd highly recommend trying to at least be as transparent as Jim, because only then your customers will see what they are paying for and will trust you.
Another example of being honest is when advertising your availability or a vacancy. Instead of aiming for the 'wow effect', you'd rather aim at giving an objective impression about yourself. The same concerns your opening job: say what challenges are in front of the company, what the person in the position will be doing, how great it will be to work there and maybe even show off the nice benefits of working in your company.
For me, being honest is not about business. It is about being myself and enjoying my life, as I know that hiding something about me will be discovered, sooner or later. In business, being honest is also about gathering the people you want to work with in the future. In essence, it is also about enjoying your life, as you will enjoy working with people, who enjoy working with you. It is always a good moment to start enjoying your life, right?