It may sound cliché, but it’s absolutely true. Honesty is always the best policy and the dishonest business person will never earn the loyalty of a client. There is no reason to expect repeat business and good references from a deceived client. Dishonesty in business has many faces ranging from “little white lies” to trickery and fraud—all of which can be illegal.

There’s never a good reason to lie, including to get a sale or avoiding an uncomfortable conversation. The order accompanied by a lie about delivery time, quality, total price or service after the sale is a one-time sale. Ultimately, the little white lie that completes a sale or makes a conversation go more smoothly today will be found out and cause big black clouds in business relationships someday.

False or misleading advertising and misrepresentations of product or services is illegal. However, advertisers still find ways to bait and switch or otherwise deceive customers in ways that can be technically legal. Using trickery to generate leads and persuade consumers into transactions they might otherwise avoid is a practice that can increase a bottom line in the short term but never build a respected brand with long-lasting growth and profitability.

Untruthfulness during the sales process can mean passing on bad information about product attributes, making incomplete or inconsistent comparisons to other products or standardized tests, such as Energy Star Labels or DP Ratings. Lying can be something as simple as stepping over the specifics of a warranty without sharing its limitations.

Intended deception is the most blatant dishonesty, but simply “dropping the ball” is dishonest, too. Every discussion with a prospect or a client should have purpose, or it was a waste of time and breath. At the end of a meeting, I find it worthwhile to review the discussion and determine the next act each party will take to accomplish the purpose of the meeting. Writing down the next steps each of us will take and sharing my list with the other party is a great way to avoid dropping the ball and maintaining my personal and business integrity.

In any of these cases, deceived consumers can cause the loss of business and the loss of integrity for the individual. This is truer than ever, because today’s cyber world of social media has made the consumer more powerful than ever before. Bad reviews and negative posts on the internet can cause a profitable business to crumble in notoriety. When a litany of comments is shared by friends and followers, the truth about the dishonest business person can destroy a business.

Yes, the consumer has the responsibility to BEWARE of dishonesty, but the honest business person must do their best to make prospects and clients AWARE of their best attributes. Time spent pretending to be better is more wisely invested in really being better.

Because the honest businessperson is consistently open, truthful, frank, candid and straightforward, their integrity can never be doubted. The honest business person is the only one deserving of customer loyalty. Be truthful in all things, large and small. Enough said.

To read more about being honest read my past post Are you Smart Enough to Lie? from February, 2012.

Read my previous posts in this series:

Top 10 Ways to Earn Loyalty

Be Curious … And Be Profitable

Are You A Good Listener? You Should Be!


  1. Great blog Mark!
    I have found this to be so true. Nobody is perfect, but when something goes awry, honesty, sincerity and a strong effort to correct the situation will gain huge dividends in the form if customer loyalty.

  2. Thanks, Jim… “Never lie to someone who trusts you… And never trust someone who lies to you”, good advice from my dad…

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