Lying Can Land You the Job, But Will Also Land You in Trouble

Be honest. Have you ever exaggerated your firm’s capabilities– even just a little– in order to land a client?  Even if you haven’t I’m willing to bet you know of others who have. The need to close the sale has a way of skewing one’s moral compass. Those who aren’t 100% honest in their pitches usually have a “good reason” to justify their white lies. In an age when it’s easier than ever for prospective customers to fact-check your claims, you may be surprised by how willing, and easily, others lie

Recently I was sitting down with a CEO, when he asked me how my firm can beat the amazing placement and retention success rates offered up by a competing firm. “I can’t,” I replied.  I think my honest response surprised him, because… *crickets* So I continued, “I can’t give you better numbers because the numbers they gave you are not accurate. Simply put, he lied. It’s virtually impossible to have a 100% placement and retention rate; so I’m not going to lie to you and say we do.”

5 Ways to Include Lying in Your Business Development Strategy


  1. Fabricate your success rate without any metrics to support it. 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 to fool a client into believing you truly are the best one for the job. Don’t forget, creating false testimonials is another way to get around the question of metrics.
  2. Mislead them about your fees. Most business owners strive to provide a high quality product or service. Undoubtedly, however, the bottom line is also a driving force behind all Business Development. By varying your fees, you are able to keep a consistent rate for the smaller companies to retain your services. But don’t forget to increase your fees for the clients you perceive as “big fish.” In addition, presenting fees that do not include all the “extra charges” for services gives you the opportunity to bring in a few more dollars along the way.
  3. Lie about your experience in their specific industry. No one is a jack of all trades; but it is easy to appear as though you are by embellishing your previous experiences. Besides, you’re heavily networked. Surely you can leverage those connections to get the information you need to complete the job.
  4. Rely on a bait and switch system. Everyone is looking for the ‘personal touch’ these days. While this is an excellent selling point when bringing in new business, no one has time for that! Handing off the account to someone else on your team, in spite of your promise to continue to be available, will free up your time to close the next deal.
  5. Over promise and under deliver. Your goal as the Business Development Manager is to bring in the business. Delivery, is not your problem. You’re confident in your team’s ability to deliver everything you’ve laid claim to. Solving any problems is now the responsibility of the team member you passed this project onto. This might also be a good time to mention some of those “hidden” or “unexpected” fees.

The above suggestions are obviously not the ideal Business Development Strategy. If you’re caught in any of these lies, there’s a good chance your customer will call you on it, you will lose your client’s trust, and their business altogether. Let’s not forget that a negative experience is rarely kept quiet. Google, LinkedIn, and other social media sites make it easy for clients to broadcast 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 President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales 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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