Sales Ethics: When Did It Become Okay to Lie?

By Ari Galper, Founder of Unlock The Game

For the past couple of days, Iíve been kicking around in my head something that happened during a conference call last week with a company that hired me to train their sales people over the phone.

Itís the kind of experience Iíve had trouble forgetting because it was such a stark conflict with everything I was brought up to believe about the difference between right and wrong.

Hereís what happened.

I was on a conference call with the sales team of a large telecommunications company. As part of the call, I asked one team member to role-play a cold call with me.

He said, "Ring-ring," and I said, "Hello, this is Ari." He said, "Hi, Ari, my name is Michael, and Iím hoping you can help me out for a moment."

I thought to myself, "So far, so good," and replied, "Sure."

"Weíre taking a short survey to help us determine if our products really meet the needs of our market, and Iíd like to ask you a few questions."

I was about to reply, "Okay, what questions do you have?" because it seemed like a reasonable request.

But a split second later, it hit me. I paused, thought for a moment, and then stepped out of our role play and said, "Are you really taking a survey? Or is that just a Ďtechniqueí to try and engage the person your calling?"

He said very matter-of-factly, "Yes, thatís what we use here when we cold call."

And I said, without even thinking about, "Wait a second, isnít that a lie? I mean, you said were conducting a survey, but in reality you arenít. Youíre using it as a trick to get the other person to engage with you on the phone."

All of a sudden, everybody on the call got quiet -- so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.

Then finally the VP spoke up. "Well, Ari," he said in a calm voice, "I never looked at it from that perspective. But youíre right. It really isnít the truth."

In a minute, Iíll let you know how the rest of the call went, but first let me ask just one question:


I donít know about you, but at home when I was growing up, my parents taught me to always be truthful and that lying was a bad thing.

But notice how, for this sales team, lying was sort of "Ho-hum, just another day at work." Not telling the truth was a perfectly acceptable way of doing business.

You can imagine how much this threw me.

Everything I teach in Unlock The Game is about being open, transparent, and honest, and above all, about always seeking the truth of the other person, which is the basis of any honest human relationship.

Does Lying Really Overcome Resistance?

You see, Iíve sat in many of those old-school selling programs taught by the "sales gurus" who in a very subtle manner tell people thereís nothing wrong with using "techniques" to get the sale.

Fake "surveys" are only one of those "techniques". There lots of them, including things like pretending to be returning a message when making a cold call. This is designed to confuse the prospect and lower their resistance.

The bottom line is, these "gurus" are saying loud and clear: in the selling process, not telling the truth is justified.

And they justify this sort of thinking and behavior because they say itís the only way to overcome sales resistance.

Well, my friend, thatís the core reason why traditional selling has gotten such a bad name and why "salesperson" has become such a negative stereotype.

What the "sales gurus" donít understand is that "resistance" is a reaction to traditional sales techniques. Theyíre the ones creating the vicious cycle, and they donít even know it.

And they have no idea how to break that cycle either.

They donít understand that if you stop using self-serving and sometimes downright unethical sales thinking and sales techniques, you wonít get resistance from prospects.

Then, the selling process will stop being a push and pull cat-and-mouse game. Itíll turn into a human relationship.

Why the End Never Justifies the Means

With the Mindset, the end never justifies the means.

Working from the Mindset means focusing on letting trust grow so you can discover your prospectís truth.

If youíre not telling the truth, that makes trust impossible.

Here are some differences between the two ways of thinking so you can think about which one feels right for youÖ

Traditional Sales Thinking

When getting the sale is all that matters...

* Use every technique you can to make the sale

* It's okay to bend the truth or lie if it'll make the sale happen

* Go for the "yes." If you hear a "no," push and persuade harder to turn it into a "yes."

The Mindset Approach

When learning your prospect's truth is all that matters...

* Create a conversation and build a relationship of trust.

* Focus on finding out whether you can help your prospect solve their problems or issues.

* If you always tell the truth, your prospect will tell you their truth.

* Focus on the "fit." Create conversation that explores whether you're a match or not.

Now, Back to the Phone CallÖ

Now Iíll tell you what happened next, after that awkward silence with the VP and sales team on the training call.

I explained to them that traditional selling had gotten so embedded in their minds that it had clouded their sense of right and wrong.

By the way, everyone on the call was comfortable with what I was saying. They got it immediately as soon as I pointed it out.

I could even hear them sighing with relief as they realized that their new Mindset skills would help them eliminate resistance from the sales process.

They now understood how and why theyíd veered off the ethical path, and that itís ok to let go of something that deep down inside felt wrong.

And I really respected their openness to recognizing that.

How Would You Like to Be Treated?

Visitors to my website who are considering ordering the Mastery Program often ask me why the Mindset is different from all the other sales programs out there. I always tell them, "Itís a different way of thinking based on integrity, honesty, and truth."

Itís like thisÖforget about business for a moment and think about your own personal life. Do you want relationships with people who are comfortable not telling you the truth?

Well, selling is a relationship too, and you can probably understand why "techniques" endorsed by traditional sales trainers make building a genuine human relationship virtually impossible.

Ari Galper, founder of Unlock The Game, makes cold calling painless and simple. Learn his free cold calling secrets even the sales gurus don't know. To receive your 10 free audio mini-lessons visit