alt text image of a man pulling off a mask

Lying Isn’t a Strategy

Today, I am disappointed. Sad, really.

My phone rang. I answered. It was someone who works for me. She said, “[Salesperson] is on the line. She insists she has an appointment with you at 2:30 PM.” I live on my calendar. How could I have been so careless? I open my calendar app, Tempo, on the iPhone. I don’t have an appointment. I asked, “What is this person’s name and what company are they with?”

The answer is [Salesperson] with [Shady Company].

I don’t know [Salesperson]. I do recognize the name of the organization. But only because they’ve continued to call me to try to sell their service. It’s something to do with federal contracts.

In an attempt to speak with me, this salesperson lied. I am certain that had I taken her call, she would have told me that there was some misunderstanding, that she didn’t say that she had an appointment, that she was only trying to schedule an appointment.

There’s a reason so few salespeople use lame, old, worthless tactics like these: Relationships are built on trust, and attempting to begin a relationship with a lie is its undoing.

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 isn’t any excuse for using any strategy for selling that is built on a lie. This is true even if from time to time this dreadful strategy works.

If you are going to be a professional salesperson, the rule is this: The truth at any price, even the price of your deal. If you are going to be someone worth doing business with, then be that person.

What disappoints me most is not that a salesperson would attempt to open an opportunity by lying about an appointment. What disappoints me most is that somewhere there is a sales organization and a sales manager that is teaching, training, and coaching this behavior. I wonder how they will feel when the salespeople they train end up being the salespeople that call on their elderly parents and grandparents.

Join my weekly Newsletter or apply for membership in my exclusive Inner Circle Mastermind Group.

Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.



  • John Spence

    Thanks for your principled approach to sales, Anthony!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thank you, Mr. Spence!

  • Astro Gremlin

    Make an appointment to have them come to your office in person. In Alaska.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I love it.

  • Jill Brewbaker Rowley

    The truth is the easiest thing to remember. There’s no place for trickery and lies in my life.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Always the right answer.

  • rnottingham

    S. You are so true. I’ve been coached to lie and I wont do it. If you start with lies how can you finish with anything but lies. The “reasoning”…they wont know
    the difference, but like you, people know who they know and have appointments with.

  • Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    A half truth is still a whole lie. Jewish proverb.

  • Harriet Laurin

    Unfortunately, there is more than one such organization (teaching and/or condoning sales to lie to customers). I had a recent cold-call where the caller said he was from THE Dept. of Energy, that they were offering $-amount to help consumers switch to solar energy and that they needed to “inspect” my home. After confirming who he claimed to be representing – the U.S. Dept. of Energy – I said I’d have to call back, that I was headed into a meeting and took their number and a website address. Well, the website address he gave led to a private company in Canada, while the phone number he gave went to a company that has apparently changed names a couple times recently – but that a few years ago did some insulation work for me. I reported them to the Dept. of Energy, who confirmed that this private company does NOT represent them. Hopefully they’ll stop using that tactic; I’m sure they got a few contracts by duping people into thinking they were government-run. In another situation, I refinanced my mortgage where the mortgage company claimed that they would reimburse the application and appraisal fee when the refinance was complete. Well, they didn’t do it at the refinance settlement, saying they would mail the check out a week after settlement. After waiting an appropriate length of time, I asked again – and was told that there would be no reimbursement as originally promised, because from the time I applied to the time the refinance occurred, more than 30 days I passed. There had been nothing about having to make it to settlement in less than 30 days when I applied, so I argued unsuccessfully; the salesperson said he had been unaware of the 30-day limit as well, but it was tough cookies, we had to abide by what the company owner said were the rules (even if they had not been disclosed to me). I filed with the state banking association; sure enough, once the state banking association reviewed all the documentation, the company was told to send me the promised reimbursement. I don’t think either company thought I’d go the extra mile to report them; I always try to give the benefit of the doubt and to clear up possible misunderstandings first. But if I am certain that the salesperson wasn’t operating ethically, I do my best to ensure to have them reported to the proper authorities. It’s a shame I have to do that – and I wish there was a board to report great/excellent salespeople to for commendations, because they seem to be a less-than-common group and they should be recognized as well. It’s not fair to have a stick when you don’t have a carrot!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I think you’re right. Because they get a few wins using these tactics, they believe it’s effective and continue–even though there are more effective and ethical methods.