Can lying to the receptionist be good business?

I don’t know where or how they get my name (oh-oh, maybe it’s this blog) but there seems to be one kind of cold caller who routinely lies to the telephone screening at the reception desk to try to get through to me. They tell the receptionist that I am expecting their call.

Does this ever work for anybody? I suppose, like spam, it must, or they would stop trying. It’s really annoying. We use an IM to communicate in the office sometimes, and reception is on the other side of the office, so here’s the transcript of the IM:


reception: Peter [last name omitted]
reception: from [company omitted]
reception: Says he is getting back to you
me: not that I know of … voice mail please …
reception: went to VM
me: ok thanks
me: Ha! I thought so. He didn’t leave a message. If he were legit, he would have … sometimes I love voice mail as an option … he just hung up…
reception: they are so darn sneaky
me: I still object to the lying tactic, it’s kind of insulting to both you and me, no?
reception: I totally agree, but anyone who would take a job phone soliciting most likely doesn’t care…


I assume this is someone trying to sell his services as a stock broker or something like that, one of the people who admires the salespeople who manage to sell useless things to trusting people. I’m amazed at the implicit idea that the would-be customer is so pliable that if you can just get your foot in the door you can sell them.

I tried to sell encyclopedias one summer when I was in high school. They took a group of us and trained us to go door to door with a lie about an educational survey to get in the door, and then to turn around and sell something that was way too expensive to people who didn’t need it. We all met once a week to hear the successful salespeople brag about how some poor customer got suckered into the stupid academic survey sham. The more the customer made them swear they weren’t selling anything, the prouder they were of the sale. I spent a few frustrating weeks and gave up without having sold as much as a pamphlet. Of course there was no money either, the whole business was paid on a 100% commission basis.

What I still remember was that very strange attitude of laughing at people who were stupid enough to believe them. It was unnerving. I’ve never been able to stomach poor unsuspecting Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, ever since. It really wasn’t his fault that he was their hero.

Fast forward to today and we still have people trying to lie their way through the door, or through the phone system, as it were. That’s got to be a tough way to make a living. I hope the people who try that don’t like it.

— Tim


  • Virtual Receptionist says:

    In my humble opinion, lying to "get through", is completely counter-productive and terminates any chance of a business relationship taking place. So I'll have to agree with you on this.

    Certainly, people have jobs to do – provide services, sell products etc – but the talent of "moving the product or service" is not in the product or service, it's in the individual. Companies may want to train their salespeople to create "relationships", from the receptionist on up. If that company has gone virtual where a "human receptionist" is not there to pass through, the salesperson should have a "voice" and a "pitch" that is of a problem solving nature, or in some way, meets a need. This can be accomplished by the salesperson completing a little homework about the company or person they're calling "before" they leave a "pitch" message.

    Anyway, my background was real estate sales, so I can safely say, like anything else, gaining the faith and trust of a new client is an "art".

    Have a great day,
    Barbara Cipak

  • Chuck Bartok says:

    Seems we have a lot in common.

    First off, the mention of Napoleon Hill brought me to your blog.

    I air a Live Talk Show twice weekly, originally started to parse Think & Grow Rich and discuss the application to Today's Start up Business Envirnoment…..

    We actually went through the Book Twice, and now enjoying doing the Same with The Master Key, by Charles Haanel.

    Stop be, download the past 86 episodes and JOIN US LIVE…… Love to hear from fellow travelers

    Your Good News Merchant
    Chuck Bartok

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