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Salespeople live and die by quota attainment. Make quota consistently, and you’re a superhero. Miss quota a few months in a row, and every day inches you closer and closer to a performance plan.

For reps or managers in the latter bucket, desperate times can incite desperate measures. Maybe hitting the number is a matter of closing a few more deals. Suddenly, you’re stretching the truth on features and saying, “Sure, we can do that!” when you’re not sure you can really do that — or worse, you’re sure you absolutely cannot do that.

Sales is a notoriously stressful job, and the pressure to fudge the truth with prospects can become overwhelming when your goal is a long way away. But it’s just not worth it. There are too many repercussions — none of them pleasant. Let’s examine.

Your new customer won’t be happy for long.

If you promised something that your company can’t deliver on to make a sale, your new client will learn the truth in short order, and warm, fuzzy feelings will turn into buyer’s remorse. By not being 100% honest, you might have sold them an imperfect product or service for their needs. 

It’s possible that they’ll give you or someone else at your company an earful and leave it at that. Or, they could take to social media to air their grievances, in which case …

You cause damage to you and your company’s reputation.

An angry phone call is bad, but an angry tweet or Facebook post is far, far worse. Your company just got crossed off vendor shortlists — not good for your organization’s brand perception, or your personal reputation. Reaching trusted advisor status is the goal of many salespeople today, and that’s much harder to do with that type of baggage. 

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Kiss upsell opportunities goodbye. 

One of the perks of becoming a trusted advisor in your clients’ eyes is that they’re more receptive to upsell suggestions. Happy with our product/service? Well, here’s something I think will sweeten your experience even more …

But if you’ve already shown yourself to be a fibber, why should clients take your word on any additional items? You might’ve won a quick buck originally, but it could cost you additional revenue in the long run.

That goes for referrals, too.

Referrals are the best. You can skip a large portion of the prospecting and initial interest stages and dive right into the meat of your sales process, with a higher success rate. In fact, according to, the close rate for referred clients is about 50%. 

But if your new customer has caught you in a lie? I doubt they’re going to be referring your company to much of anything, except maybe the door.

You risk making internal enemies.

Let’s say you sold a product on a promise for a special kind of support you know your company wouldn’t normally provide. The client signs the contract and you pass the buck along to the implementation team.

On to the next month? Well, not quite. What happens when the customer starts asking about the support you pledged? You committed another department to something they might not be able to give, and they’ll be understandably upset. Once your colleagues find out who’s to blame for their misery, you’ll garner a negative reputation internally.

You’re contributing to sales stereotypes.

As part of his research for the book To Sell Is Human, Daniel Pink and Qualtrics conducted a survey called “What Do You Do At Work?” The question “When you think of ‘sales’ or ‘selling,’ what’s the first word that comes to mind?” aimed to gauge people’s perception of the sales profession. 

If you’re sensitive, you might want to stop here. Among the most prevalent words were “pushy,” “sleazy,” “ugh,” “yuck,” “dishonest,” and “manipulative.” 

If you’re a salesperson who takes pride in their work, this is worth bearing in mind. Every time you bend the truth to make a sale, you’re feeding into the general psyche’s negative perception. Don’t be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your commitment to honesty might just change some deeply-rooted opinions about your industry as a whole.

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