Gotta love salespeople.\nSelf-driven, solution-oriented, always seeking the win-win. I\u2019ve spent the better part of the last 30 years in sales of some form or another. I\u2019ve won some deals that I had no business winning. I\u2019ve lost some that still hurt. I\u2019ve passed on opportunities that I was grateful for passing on in hindsight. There are those to whom I\u2019ve said no when I should have said yes. And, of course, I\u2019ve taken on more than a few clients that should have been firm no\u2019s.\nThrough all the ups and downs, I\u2019ve learned a lot.\nMost notably, I\u2019ve learned to never paint your product or service as the perfect solution to your prospects\u2019 needs. In fact, I think it\u2019s ideal to be a bit imperfect and vulnerable during the sales cycle.\nHere\u2019s why:\n1. You get one early opportunity to build lasting relationships based on mutual respect and trust. No matter what you\u2019re selling, there\u2019ll be engagements that are smooth and customers that are delighted to the point of becoming evangelists for your company and its offering. But, in the real world, things happen.\nDuring the sales process, find the right time to ask your prospect about their recent experiences dealing with a vendor or company such as yours. Ask what worked, what didn\u2019t and what they\u2019d like to see done differently.\nThen, share some stories not only about times when things went exceedingly well, but also about when things weren\u2019t perfect, why they weren't perfect, and how you and your company dealt with it. This honesty will set the stage for candor in all your conversations moving forward, building trust as a byproduct. Win-win.\n2. You need to understand each other\u2019s expectations. I always say that disappointment is only misaligned expectations. And it\u2019s true. It\u2019s easy to get your prospect nodding if you sell your product or service with enthusiasm, drive and subtle push. A great salesperson can sense hot buttons, key in on them, and play to those talking points, pains, features or functionalities. It\u2019s the courting stage and everything is going to turn out perfect with everyone living happily ever after, right? Well, maybe.\nIt\u2019s important to recognize the creation and delivery of your product or service can be like a Broadway production \u2013 a mess behind the curtain, stage hands running all over the place, nervous actors having breakdowns, last-minute costume repairs, shuffling props.\nBut what really matters is when curtain goes up \u2013 and there\u2019s magic.\nBugs may \u2013 and will \u2013 happen. Vulnerabilities may surface. Deadlines may get missed. Deployment may be delayed. Scope creep can happen.\nTo manage expectations, create a list of the top five to seven things that have gone wrong in the past with other clients and share that with your prospect, along with discussion around how those things were handled and resulted in ultimate success. Ask what your teams can do together to help ensure things go as smoothly as possible.\nIf you expect nothing to go wrong and it does \u2013 you\u2019ll be disappointed, and the prospect-turned-client will be disappointed at best, irate at worst. But, if you expect a few blips along the way, and foreshadow that all will not be smooth sailing at the onset, your new customer is less likely to go off the deep end, enabling you to do your job and deliver an end product to a delighted client.\n3. Your professional and personal credibility is built on being perfectly imperfect far beyond a client relationship. When you are honest about your product or service, you become believable. When you are believable, it makes it easier for a prospect to favor your offering over the competition's. When you position your solution as unique and talk about it like there is no competitor, eyebrows will raise. If you talk about your solution as flawless, you will be questioned.\nIn addition to knowing the vulnerabilities of your solution or process, recognizing that there are, indeed, competitors \u2013 who might do something a tad better than you \u2013 sets you apart and makes you credible. And, contrary to what you may think, that credibility and chutzpah to admit your shortcomings shows character, which makes prospects more likely to want to go into business with you.\nAlternately, when you hit someone over the head with double-talking jargon, try to convince prospects that your solution is the be-all, end-all, trying to coerce them into signing a deal, smart prospects will walk away. Those who initially believe you and do sign on the dotted line will be seriously disappointed when they discover your shortcomings on their own \u2013 and will be disheartened and unlikely to do business with you again thanks to your cover-up antics.\nTaken together, selling successfully boils down to one thing: honesty. If you\u2019re honest about who you are, what you\u2019re selling and what the buyer can expect, you\u2019re building trust.\u00a0\nAnd creating business relationships on a foundation of honesty and trust will do more for you and your company in the long run than closing a short sales cycle now.\u00a0\nAfter all, the reputation of your personal brand and your company are not just worth it \u2013 your success depends on it.