Is Honesty the Best Policy in Sales?

In short, yes. And if integrity isn’t enough to convince you, money should be.

Exaggerations, little white lies and overinflated promises – they’ve all be used to get a client to sign on the dotted line.

But should a salesperson be absolutely blunt about what they can deliver, and what they can’t?


And here are a few of the reasons why.

Honesty begets honesty.

A prospect who trusts and respects the salesperson will often tell them exactly what they need to do to in order to get sign off from the other stakeholders in the deal. They will set realistic expectations about timelines and potential hurdles, and will give honest feedback if problems emerge.

They’re also much more likely to tell the salesperson when they are wasting their time, and should focus elsewhere.


If ethics are not enough to persuade people that honesty is the best policy, perhaps money is.

Being upfront about what you can deliver – and the limitations – make a closed deal more likely. And that equates to reaching targets and making money.

Closing a deal has consequences

Regardless of whether you are entering into a short or long term relationship with a client, if a deal is closed based on false facts or misinformation, there will be repercussions.

If you have signed the client up for a long term contract based on unrealistic expectations, you have probably just signed your company up for a world of heartache.

And nobody will thank you for that, regardless of how much the deal was ‘worth’.

Today’s prospect could be tomorrow’s anything

It’s a small world. If a salesperson lies to a prospect to close a deal today, that same prospect might be the person standing in the way of a bigger sales tomorrow.

And as referrals are the quickest and best way for a salesperson to build their client base, lies will quickly lead to a lot of burnt bridges.

People make decisions based on trust

Whether it’s a €100 sale or a €1million sale, the decision to go with one supplier or another often comes down to trust.

So if you rely on lies, there’s a good chance the person sitting opposite can sense it, even if they can’t prove it.


There are 2 reputations to consider in every sale – yours and that of the company you represent. We all have in mind a company which we personally wouldn’t want to do business with because they have a poor reputation or seem shady. So what would happen if you or your employer were perceived the same way because lies had damaged your reputations?

And unfortunately you may have to carry a company’s bad reputation with you long after you have parted ways.

But if that’s not enough to convince you to be upfront with your prospects, consider the statistics in the articles below:

The availability of data to enforce the link between honesty, satisfied customers, repeat business and referrals, is endless.

And finally, for balance, a harder truth;

If less than one in three happy customers will refer your business, you need a lot of happy customers to reach your targets or grow your business.

It’s simply a numbers game.

Honesty is the best policy, if not because it’s a more enjoyable way to conduct business, because of your bottom line.

Sarah Berney