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Lying is not a strategy

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Today, I am disappointed — sad, really. My phone rang, and I answered. Someone who works for me said, “[Salesperson] is on the line. She insists she has an appointment with you at 2:30.” Now, I live by my calendar. I wondered how I could have been so careless as to forget an appointment. So, I opened my calendar app — nothing. I asked my employee the name of the salesperson and her company. The answer came: [Salesperson] with [Shady Company].

I do not know [Salesperson], but I did recognize the name of her organization — because they have continually called me to try to sell me their services. In a (desperate) attempt to speak with me, this salesperson decided to lie. I am certain that, had I taken her call, she would have told me that there had been some sort of misunderstanding, that she never claimed to have an appointment and that she was rather attempting to schedule an appointment.

There’s a reason so few salespeople use such lame, old, worthless tactics: Relationships are built on trust, and by employing a lie in an attempt to begin one, this salesperson killed it before it had even been born.

It doesn’t matter how bad you need business. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is to get someone on the phone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “little white lie.” There is simply no excuse for a selling strategy built on lies. This is true even if, from time to time, this dreadful strategy works.

If you are going to be a professional salesperson, here’s your #1 rule: the truth at any price, even the price of your deal. If you want to be someone worth doing business with, then be that person.

What disappoints me most about this is not that a salesperson would attempt to open an opportunity by lying about an appointment. But that somewhere there is a sales organization or manager teaching, training and coaching this behavior. It makes me wonder how they are going to feel when the salespeople they have trained turn around and use this approach on their elderly parents or grandparents.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go