I was just reading the latest column by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the hosts of the Car Talk radio show. There was a letter from a man who brought his BMW to his dealer because one of his (fairly new) tires blew out through the sidewall. The person at the dealership told him: (1) All of his tires need to be replaced ASAP, because the same thing probably will happen to them soon; (2) he shouldn’t have Goodyear tires of any kind because they’re no good for this particular car; and (3) the only tires he ever should put on it are the model and brand they have at the dealership, which cost about $160 each, plus installation.

Tom and Ray debunked the dealer’s claims and concluded that he was trying to dupe the customer into buying the most expensive tires the dealership carried.

I’m not easily offended, but every time a slimeball like this tries to rip off a customer, it hurts the reputation of the auto industry, salespeople as a group and business in general. And for what? Nothing! Hell, he lost the sale! That customer is going somewhere else to buy his replacement tire and you can bet that not only is he never going back to that dealership, he’s going to tell everyone he knows to stay away.

If that salesperson (and it doesn’t matter if the guy worked in the service department, he’s still a salesperson) had been honest instead, he could have sold the customer a new tire on the spot. Sure, it would have been a small sale, but by being honest he could have secured a customer for life.

Lying is never an effective sales strategy. (And beware any training seminar that waffles on this point or tries to rationalize lying because prospects sometimes do it to us.) No matter how desperate you get, no matter how much pressure you feel from your boss to make a sale, no matter how much extra commission you think you could make, never lie to a prospect.

You want to be proud of yourself and the way you do business. You don’t want to end up in a newspaper column as a bad example.