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Deceptive Sales Tactics: The Lie

July 26, 2023

Deceptive Sales Tactics Exposed

I was a victim of the “lie” sales technique the other day and it pissed me off.

I pulled into a gas station to fill up. While I was standing next to my car, a young man about 25 years old walked up to me with a squeegee and said today was customer appreciation day and they were washing everyone’s windshields for free. As he washed my windshield he went on about how customer service was a lost art and how companies don’t provide the service they once did. He was an affable guy, energetic, and engaging. I could care less if my windshield was clean, but I thought it was a nice gesture of the gas station. I had to agree with him, it was pleasant to see a company do something just because.

But, then he said it . . . “I see you have a crack in your windshield right, did you know that?”


The Bait and Switch

Suddenly, I realized it was not customer appreciation day. The gas station wasn’t be altruistic. He was selling windshield repair.  Unbelievable! His story was a ploy to get a look at my windshield and sell me on repairing it. The “lie” sales technique strikes!

The “lie” sales technique is akin to slight of hand. A lie is told to capture a person’s interest. Once the person is hooked they move in to push their stuff.  The “lie” is a disarming, altruistic, story or offer that appears to benefit the person. It almost always appears void of a hook. The lie is rarely attached to an offer to buy or any type of customer commitment. That always comes later, after the prospect has been drawn in. It’s meant to keep the prospect from recognizing they are being sold until later in the engagement.

The “lie” sales technique is designed to create engagement on a false pretense, thus trapping a prospect in the sales process. Prospects are denied the ability to enter into the selling dialogue willingly.


Eroding Trust in Your Buyers

I despise deceptive sales techniques. They erode trust. They undermine the sales profession. They make selling difficult for everyone else. Clearly they must work, because people keep doing it, but I can’t stand it.

Selling through lying is not selling. It’s just lying.

I like to offer a message to companies and sales people who employ this technique and any other deceptive sales tactics. STOP! Sell with integrity, it always works out in the end.


Two days later I pulled up to another service station and a young man walked up to me and said; “Today is customer appreciation day, we are washing windshields for free . . .”  You don’t want to know what I said to him, I wasn’t very nice.


The Consequences of Deceptive Sales Tactics

The consequences of this interaction are easy and straight forward. If I see this young man again, especially at a gas station, and he approaches me, I’m instantly going to assume he is going to pull the wool over my eyes again, or at least make an attempt to. He’s burned his reputation as a salesperson in my head. Additionally, that gas station, they’re in the same boat. I’m going to have an uneasy feeling every time I pull in there and for what $50-100 bucks?

Quick math just for fun, the average American drives 13,500 miles a year, the average MPG in America is 25 give or take, which means the average American is going to buy 540 gallons of gas a year. The average cost of gas across the US today? $3.563. That’s nearly $2,000 dollars a year, just for me. They were willing to sacrifice $2,000 dollars a year for a 5% upsell.


Credible Sellers Sell Better

Sales is the practice of change management. You’re helping buyers transition from an unsatisfactory current state to a better one. They’re putting their faith in you to enhance their present situation and their future outcomes. To accomplish this, you must demonstrate you expertise, reliability, credibility, and empathy towards their challenges. Deception won’t get you any closer to achieving these goals.


Put The Customer First

We buy to fix problems, rather than starting with deception, think about the problem you’re selling. This guy was selling windshield replacement, the problem is quite literally right in front of him. Had he done a little research he could’ve started with the problem and educated me about the dangers of cracked windshields, potential impacts, etc rather than setting a trap. Maybe, I’ll bring him a copy of Gap Selling ;).



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