Are all Salespeople Liars?

by Ken Schmitt and Vicky Willenberg

Be honest… Have you ever lied to land a client?  Maybe you’ve fudged a delivery date, inflated a few numbers, or fabricated a sense of urgency with a “limited time” offer.

“Everyone embellishes. In a highly saturated market, salespeople need to pull out

the big guns to close the deal.”

Sound familiar?

Those who aren’t 100% honest in their pitches usually have a “good reason” to justify their white lies. Some do it because they don’t know their product/service well enough. Others lie because they try too hard to be everything to everyone, extolling their product’s ability to fix every problem. And the biggest motivator to lie…money. The faster the prospect becomes a customer, the faster you collect your commission and move on. The need to close the deal can easily skew one’s moral compass.

5 Most Common Lies Salespeople Tell

1. “Our customer satisfaction rate is 100%!” In every industry competition is fierce and gaining clients takes a finely-tuned Business Development Strategy. While the numbers don’t lie, the person delivering them can. Making claims about your company’s success without the metrics to support them is an excellent way tofool a client into believing you truly are the best one for the job. Creating false testimonials is another way to get around the question of metrics.

2. “I can get you 75% off the listed price.” Offering outrageous discounts tells your client one of two things. 1. Your initial fee is ridiculous; and 2. There must be hidden fees somewhere else to make up for the loss in revenue. Varying fees or packages is not dishonest. Successful salespeople know doing so allows smaller companies to retain your services and is a great way to bring new prospects in the door. Be honest and upfront about the discounts you offer. If this is only an introductory offer, articulate that in your pitch.

 3. “Trust me, I’ve been working in this industry for 20 years.”It’s easier than ever for prospects to fact-check your claims. So, lying about your experience and accomplishments is just plain stupid. Embellishing the skills and experience you bring to the table does nothing but undermine the authentic, long-term relationship you are trying to build with your customers. Your salesmanship and the glowing customer satisfaction rates (which you should be able to provide hard evidence of) gives you all the credibility you need.


4. “This deal is only available for a limited time.”Sales & Marketing 101 teaches that creating a sense of urgency or scarcity is an excellent way to give prospects the extra “push” they need to take action. Common sense and ethics tell us lying about the limited time offer is a bad idea. Offering short-term discounts and highlighting a finite supply will light a fire under your prospect and get them to the final stage of the decision making process; but those discounts and end dates must be legit.

 5. “This is going to eliminate all your problems.”Ideally, you’re selling a product/service you feel good about. You are confident it will deliver and the needs of your client. Most importantly, you have the data to prove it. (If not, you might want to spend time thinking about whether this is the company/role for you.) Therefore, there is no reason to oversell and stretch the truth about what your product can do. The proof is in the pudding, people. Feedback from a similar customer base, retention rates, and repeat business will show prospects that what you have to offer will address their specific challenges and make that aspect of their lives easier.

Salespeople have their work cut out for them. Customers can be leery from the get-go due to past experiences and widely-broadcasted scandals in the media. If you’re caught in any lie, there’s a good chance your customer will call you on it and you will lose your client’s trust and any potential business. Let’s not forget, a poor experience is rarely kept quiet. Google, LinkedIn, and other social media sites make it easy for clients to share your dishonesty and tarnish your reputation. The driving force behind developing new business should be to provide a high-quality product, using impeccable service. No one is ignoring the importance of a company’s bottom line, but bringing in business that increases that bottom line should not cost you your soul.

About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the CEO and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales & Marketing Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

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