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The sales profession might seem like it doesn’t change much from year to year. After all, it’s really just about finding potential customers, listening to their needs, and then tailoring your product or service as the perfect solution, right?

For the most part that’s true. Except for major industry trends that dictate what millions of salespeople sell, selling hasn’t changed significantly over the years until the last decade or so. The internet, and new technologies, however, have upended sales and dropped us into the middle of a technological revolution where companies, like Spiro, are even using artificial intelligence to help sales teams become wildly more effective and radically improving the way salespeople work.

But this isn’t an article about technology, it’s an article about lying in sales (although technology has also made it more difficult for salespeople to lie – but more on that later).

There are lots of people in the general public who assume that most salespeople are dishonest and will say anything to make a buck. It’s important to note that this is very much far from the truth. In fact, the overwhelming majority of salespeople are honest people who are simply working hard to provide for their families.

It would also be disingenuous to say that there aren’t salespeople who lie to prospects and customers. Every profession has its share of bad apples, and sales does sometimes attract people who are looking to make a quick buck and don’t have any moral qualms about misleading people to do it. And since the barrier to entry into sales is much lower and has less rigorous testing and licensing standards than say, becoming a pharmacist, it’s much more difficult to screen candidates for sales positions.

So let’s not delude ourselves and agree that lying does sometimes occur in sales.

But does lying work?

First, let’s just get this out of the way: lying to customers and prospects is unethical, wrong, and in some cases even criminal. You should never lie to someone, unless it’s your sales manager asking if you’re sandbagging any deals (kidding). Just don’t do it.

And if those reasons aren’t good enough for you, then this one should be: it doesn’t work.

Picture the most successful salespeople you know. What do they all have in common? It’s probably a combination of the following:

  • a consistent prospecting process
  • lots of repeat and referral business
  • excellent communicators who are able to build trust

Not only is lying not part of any top-performer’s success, it’s completely antithetical to it. You simply cannot become a top performing salesperson if lying is a part of your modus operandi.

Sure, lying once to someone might help you get a deal closed in some instances, but is it really worth the potential consequences of what happens if your lie is found out? You could lose any chance of getting that repeat business forever, lose your job, or worse. It’s simply not beneficial to lie if you’re trying to actually build a sales career.

Technology has also made it increasingly difficult for salespeople to get away with lying. Pricing transparency, the ability to research almost anything, forums and chat rooms, and easy access to individuals high up in an organization all make lying a risky proposition.

This same transparency has driven prices down as businesses are forced to compete more aggressively to earn customer’s business, and find an edge through excellent sales and customer service – which makes honesty that much more valuable.

So if you want to get an edge in sales, focus on building a bigger sales pipeline, developing your communication skills, or use a cutting edge tool like Spiro’s CRM that will revolutionize they way you sell. But don’t, under any circumstances lie, it will hurt you a lot more than it will help you.

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About the Author Ken Kupchik

Ken Kupchik is the creator of Sales Humor and the author of the funniest sales book ever written, The Sales Survival Handbook, which you can order on Amazon.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

2 Comments

  • Virendra Kumar says:

    Very good article. Thanks. I am privy to one very strange situation in which B to B business was being done with an Indian multinational by a US company through their Indian subsidiary. Now, the price quoted to them was higher than what was being shown on their international website.
    You can imagine.
    The first season went very well.
    Then they came to know the real price.
    Business came down with a thud.
    In the long run, if you can ensure that you are perceived as an honest person, whatever may be the sales format, you will be successful.

  • Jacob Lowery says:

    Ken, thank you for stating this plainly! So many sales departments fall into the same spiral of toxicity blended with a hit-your-sales-figures-or-else attitude. Who ultimately loses? Everyone. The company loses sales. Salespeople lose possible wages. And most importantly, the customer loses out on engaging with a product or solution that very well MAY have been exactly what they needed. This piece, like yours, helps underscore the need for ethical sales practices and how, ultimately, everyone wins when ethics are the foundations of your sales department’s efforts: https://salesethics.net/blog/how-salespeople-can-exceed-the-4-levels-of-customer-expectations/ Thanks so much again, Ken! God bless!

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