We. Love. Research.
It can be planned ahead or chaotic, it could happen as soon as we wake up or way past our bedtime, or even while sitting on the throne (you know, the place where even the king goes alone). We never stop feeding ourselves on fresh information. It comes with a ton of benefits, among which we get some spontaneous inspiration for our next blog posts ?.
A moment of pure panic
While scanning the world wide web for cool stuff, we ran into this eye-catching headline that wrote: “Everything you need to know about e-commerce”.
We’ve been e-commercing for over a decade and we still learn new stuff every year, and someone out there already knows everything there is to know about e-commerce?! Our feet got cold.
It’s a 3-scrolls article describing some sporadic e-commerce history and an image of 4 essentials for “successful e-commerce”, but mostly it’s common facts you could learn just from shopping online or reading the annual “last year’s” statistics.
Though our first reaction was to burst into laughter, as our heart rates dropped back to normal a deeper, more meaningful thing about this article really got to us.
We are being lied to every day
Someone who promised to pay us back three weeks ago never did. The parking boy “forgot” to mention that the rates are double after 12 PM and the lady from the grocery store swears that yogurt wasn’t expired this morning.
We can’t dodge these everyday deceptions, but when it comes to more important aspects of our lives – such as the business we run – we must be able to recognize a big lie from afar and block it before it causes us serious damage.
A service provider (say, a marketing agency) states that they know the right way to grow a business. A business owner says yes and their collaboration begins. The agency asks for generous amounts of money, attention, human resources and, in exchange, promotes the company the way they know best. Soon enough things start to shake inside the company. Processes crack, sales drop, employees get demotivated, investors start pulling back. There are severe irregularities going on, and things only go down from there. The business is cashing out more than it’s cashing in.
The owner then directs all his fury towards the agency: “you said you’ll handle my business and now we’re facing bankruptcy!” The marketing agency shrugs their shoulders: “hey, we’re just here to help you promote your brand. We don’t run your business and we’re not willing to answer for whatever mistake you’ve made!”
What really happened there?
The business owner got tricked into investing in an entity that promised him the moon and the stars but who, in fact, never had the power, the knowledge or the expertise to grow a business. He spent his focus and capital on the marketing project and neglected all the other areas of his business. The outcome, as sad as it sounds, was predictable and preventable. If only the business owner knew better and the marketing agency was honest all the way.
Spotting a liar
They’re usually very well-dressed, have a firm handshake and look you straight into the eye. They talk about their huge success on the market and show you a fancy presentation they most probably paid someone else to do. All good so far, this looks like the profile of a skilled and confident salesperson.
Shit goes down when they start telling you that they can handle everything. Just like our big guy who knows everything about e-commerce. They promise to grow your business, they never talk about the downsides and they tell you to lay back and relax because your whole life is about to change forever, now that you met them. Which might actually be true, they just don’t tell you that it might change for the worse.
How to watch your back?
Trust no-one completely until proven otherwise. This may sound drastic but it’s a good prevention method. The world is full of imposters and chances are you’ll bump into more than one throughout your lifetime. Be vigilant and set your expectations correctly when granting an over-confident stranger access to the insides of your company.
Ask inconvenient questions. These people never get even close to the subject of failure, so confront them directly. Get them to tell you the not-so-pretty stories from their professional lives, ask all the “what if” questions you can think of and get a second opinion before saying “yes” to anything.
Talk directly to their customers and ask how their collaboration went. In other words, do your own research. Pay close attention especially to bad feedback and decide if the arguments against that person/ company are valid and relevant. Reading all the reviews you can find out there is also a wise choice. Stay away from testimonials though. No one is courageous enough to post dissatisfactions in plain sight, so of course testimonials will only display some more pretty lies.
Chemistry. There’s a misconception going around that there’s no time or room for emotional touch in business. Chemistry is a very important element in a partnership because it’s a more appealing term for “gut feeling”. If you click with a person when you first meet, there’s a big chance you’ll grow on each sooner or later.
“No, thank you.” Simple as that. If all your bells are ringing a “drop this shit and run!” song, then drop this shit and run. Better safe than sorry, right? You don’t necessarily owe an explanation but, for the love of feedback, you can let this Romeo know why you turned down his
love business proposal.
Not everyone lies with the purpose of doing intentional harm. Some may simply think too big about themselves and actually believe they are capable of things they’re not. Some follow their own interest and overpromise in order to get what they want, and some may be economical with the truth by removing some elements – such as risk factors – from their speech.
Truth be told (see what we did there?), the danger of being misled lies everywhere, so it’s almost impossible to protect ourselves from this kind of inconvenience. What matters, in the end, is that we manage to minimize the damage we could suffer. And we can do that with patience, research and questions asked.