The Sales Profession Needs To Cry Bullsh . . .

by Paul Castain on January 30, 2013

I received an interesting email the other day.

It was from a sales trainer thanking me for volunteering to test his new app.

Innocent enough; right?

Until you take into account that I never promised him anything nor had I ever spoken to him (more on that in a minute)

I responded and asked how/when I volunteered for that.

Confession time: I was completely screwing with this guy at this point because I hate when people try this “monkey style kung fu” on me.

He writes back “right now”. Doesn’t apologize for lying or pulling a rookie stunt to get my attention . . . just full speed ahead.

I told him that I didn’t appreciate his approach and moved on.

One other thing . . .

In one of his emails he tells me that we had spoken before.

I’m the wrong guy to try that with.

Not only do I have an incredible memory for this stuff, I can tell you that I almost never spend any time with other sales trainers. No disrespect to them, its just not something that interests me.

Stay with me  . . .

Today, someone left me a message stating very clearly that they wanted to talk with me about the courses I offer.

I call back and the dude starts his sales pitch.

What the . . . ?

I interrupt him telling him that I was confused and thought he wanted to talk about my courses. He proceeds with his pitch never apologizing. I interrupt again asking him what he wanted to know about my courses. He continues and I end the call shortly after while exercising high levels of restraint.

I’m going to say something that you would think could constitute a “Duh Paul” moment but I’m quickly losing hope.

Nobody likes to be tricked!

Nobody likes to be lied to.

If you are barely two seconds into a potential relationship and you are seen as a liar, how could that possibly help your cause?

Do you think that someone is going to say “Alright, you got me fair and square dude. Here’s my money”?

It just isn’t cool  . . . but here’s the thing . . .

We have to start crying BS!

Seriously, enough is enough and I need your help!

If you work for a company and your boss tells you to lie, I want you to (respectfully) cry BS. Ask them why they’d feel lying is a viable option. Express your discomfort and hold your ground. If you get nowhere (and I don’t want you to lose your job over this) speak with your boss’s boss, owner and if that doesn’t work, do some soul searching and consider working for a company with values that align with yours.

If you witness a teammate engaging in this behavior, have a heart to heart with them. Tell them how sleazy it is and how it makes EVERYONE look bad on the team!

Sales Managers, VP’s of Sales, Business Owners . . . If you catch a sales rep partaking in this nonsense, call them out, write them up and if it continues . . . show them the door. Trust me, they’re making you and your company look like crap!

Training . . .

If you ever attend a training session where someone tells you to lie . . . call them out and don’t let them off the hook. Don’t relent. Let them know that tricking prospects, lying and trying cute tactics isn’t and never will be a part of your playbook!

If you’re ever on the receiving end of this kind of tactic . . .

Call them out! Make them uncomfortable and invite them to rethink their approach. I’d ask you to forward my info to them but then again it might violate my “no idiots” rule.

A few things that I see continually abused . . .

Telling assistants that the decision maker knows you when they don’t

Telling assistants that the decision maker is expecting your call when they aren’t

Telling assistants that the decision maker knows what this is in reference to when they don’t

Telling anyone that you’ve spoken before when you haven’t

Pretending to be interested in someone’s products or services in order to trick them into a quick call

Putting the letters “RE” in a subject line to imply that you’ve corresponded before.

And finally, if YOU pull stunts like these, I want you to know that you are better than that and you need to start acting like a professional.

A true sales professional has way too many legitimate choices to ever let lying exist anywhere in their repertoire!

Please weigh in with your thoughts and leave a comment below!

FYI . . .

For the aspiring sales leaders out there, Castain’s Sales Management course begins March 21st . . . right on your computer screen! Click here for all the details!

  • Yes, yes and Yes! I don’t have time for this BS and I hate to say it, but I don’t think I use as much restraint as you have. I recently got a call from someone saying they had an invoice ready for my review. I had never spoken with these folks and they were trying to get me to pay for something I never ordered. Sheesh! It does give sales reps a bad name . . . 

  • Thank you for kicking us off Kristine!

    That’s just downright illegal.

    Kudos to you for not busting a cap in someone’s fanny!

  • Wow! You are spot on & shame on anyone who is making all of us sales reps look bad. Recent experience: someone (a recruiter-ugh!) left me a vm recently with just her name and that she thinks I’m the one she needs to talk to. No reference to her being a recruiter, so I call her back pronto because I think it may be someone who was referred to me & I might have a sales opportunity, right? Nope. She immediately starts asking me all these personal questions about my job, if I’m happy there, what services we offer, etc. I called her out & said, “ma’am, you should have done your homework on me before calling, and I’m happy where I am and in fact will be celebrating 12 years w/the company next week.” End phone call. Seriously? I’m not falling for it, and I hope no one else does either.

  • GDJohnstone

    So true, Paul. There are WAY too many sales people ruining the world of sales for us who perform ethically and professionally.  I’ve been witness to these “thinking they’re holier than thou” sales jokers and it makes it a lot more difficult / longer sales processfor the rest of us to prove to the assistants and Execs that we’re not like all those “other sales people”. However, I also believe that everyone gets their day. Honesty, Integrity, Loyalty and Professionalism ALWAYS wins in the end.  Thanks Paul

  • Well said Greg!
    Thank you!

  • A bad truth is better than a good lie.  It doesn’t work in personal relationships or business relationships.  

    I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the BS you shared Paul and I have to tell you, not only did I NOT buy what they were trying to sell me, I told everyone who would listen about the audacity of the salesperson.  They not only didn’t gain me as a customer, their actions caused me to expose their BS to my world!


    Being both “old school” and just old (!), I love this, Paul. The people using these tactics today have no clue how offensive they are, and what a turn-off acting like this causes in the recipient of said behavior! Being honest is the only way to go-period!!! Thank  you for always hitting the nail on the head.

  • Good post Paul. In my prior life as CMO of a major software company, I often received calls from sales people claiming that they were representing buyers who were interested in purchasing our products. They were, in fact, conference space or print advertising sales reps. Of course I found the deception reprehensible and as you suggested, when the first conversation with someone is based on a lie, it is difficult to trust anything they say from that point forward.     

  • Amen! It cheapens the entire profession, and it ultimately ineffective.

  • Absolutely!

    Thanks Jeanine!

  • That’s a great point Randi especially when we look at how easy it is for us to “out” the offending party through our social network, blogs etc.

  • Thanks Elizabeth and its not like you’re the “invisible lady”. You write a blog, you’re on the social networking sites. You’ve left a foot print.

  • Thank YOU Francey!

  • Sometimes we forget that the sales process we embrace needs to underscore the whole trust thing.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Christopher . . . I really appreciate it!

  • Larry Rutter

    Kinda mixed reaction to this one. There are many a story told about how a “great” salesman broke an account open by some form of aggressive salesmanship. Sending the king with the promise of the rest of the chess set in return for a meeting is probably OK, but how about the guy that leaves a message for the exec saying he’s his doctor, the results have come back negative and please call back immediately? I know of both being done with levels of success – the latter resulted in a massive win for the “doctor”. He “lied” to get in the door, but openly admitted what he had done once the exec called back. It was an account that wouldn’t give him the time of day, so he went to drastic measures and won the account. The exec it turned out had a great sense of humor and appreciated that the guy was doing what he was paid to do, and gave him his meeting. They became great friends.

    I agree that lying is no way to run a business, but is it so bad, after trying everything you can for an audience into an account that you are expected to break into with no success, to try a hail mary? I certainly don’t condone lying about having spoken to someone, or that they requested information,
    but a tongue in cheek, outrageous “I’m your doctor”, is so out there that it does make you smile at his chutzpah.

    Of course, I know of an exec I called on who had a Wall of Shame – where he placed on his shelves and window sills all of the tchatchkes that folks have used to get in his door. It was an interesting collection. He never granted a meeting to anyone that tried that approach. You didn’t want to be on his Wall.

  • Actually it is bad and there’s no excuse for it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Nick Oherrick

    Great Post.  Lying will never get you anywhere, it will always come back to bite you at some point in time.  It may not be the first time you do it, but when it does, it will be devastating for you and your company.  Thank You Paul.

  • Michael Rebak

    Thanks Uncle Paul! Lying really grinds my gears and you’ve put thought to blog post (pen to paper). One of the most defining moments of my young career was when I called BS on a former employer lying to a customer. It made me feel sick. Needless to say, I’m no longer with them.

    I wrote an article many moons ago called “Be Legit”, and had many of the same principles you’re discussing here. Why can’t people be honest? What has our society come to when people think it’s ok to not do the right thing? What happened to moral fibre and having moral compass pointing in the right direction. It’s refreshing to know that there are still people out there, especially sales people, who have good hearts and true intentions beyond that of a money-sucking leach.

  • So true Nick. Karma has a way of bringing it all back around!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts!

  • Michael . . . I applaud you for having the guts to call out your former employer.

    People engage in this type of behavior because others keep their mouth shut and allow it.

    Thanks again . . . always nice to see you stop by Sales Playbook my friend!


  • I am SO fortunate to work for a company that would NEVER approach sales with these tactics!  How lucky am I that I get to do what comes naturally to sell my product!!

  • I am with you 100+%

  • MSJ

    Can we call BS on a client who we outright know is lying too? Not just guessing, but letting them talk themselves in a corner that you can clearly see they are now trying to further lie to save face. Gracefully ended the relationship, but still think I should have said more without calling the client a bald-faced liar

  • PenobscotSearch

    A member of Maine Entrepreneurs Group posted this today in the group discussion. Great Article. 

    Being in the recruiting industry, I have seen first hand a lot of  what you mentioned in the article from both sides.

    I just shared the post to my network on LinkedIn so people
    in my network can be made aware of this.
    Paul P. Mosley

    Penobscot Executive Search LLC

    A National Recruiting & Placement Agency

    Dexter, Maine USA

    (207) 270-6070

  • That was really nice of you Paul!

    Thank you!

  • Traci Walters

    Someone made a comment on LI the other day about using a certain tone of voice and certain words to make the assistant believe that you knew the person you were calling. I could NEVER do that. I couldn’t do any of the negative things you mentioned in this post.

    I shy away when I see the word ‘tactic’ after the word ‘sales’. Just keep it real; it’s worked for me so far!

  • Well said Traci!

    Thank you!

  • Paul,

    Sadly, this seems to happen all the time. I have heard about it and seen it first hand. I have also received communications similar to the one you describe.

    This is sad, not because I care that much, but mostly because it give us honest sales people a bad rap that is hard to overcome.

    When I leave someone a real and honest message, I don’t want them thinking of me in the same way as the moron who tried to trick his/her admin into taking their call or accepting a meeting.

    A few bad apples can definitely spoil the whole bunch.


  • Thank you Jess!

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