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Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 17

Posted on: May 18

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 17

Ethics in business begins, ends with honesty

Ethics is a big word; we could discuss its role in sales and in life for hours, days or weeks, but for now I want to share with you a little about ethics’ key role in the world of professional selling.

There are certain rules of fair play in selling and most can be summed up in a single word: honesty.

There are endless chances in selling to be dishonest. Sometimes you will never get caught, but for most of us, the stress and tension of living with a lie is just as bad as getting caught.

The first place you must practice honesty is with yourself. Polonius, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” says, “This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Most of the time, if we look in our heart of hearts, we know what do to. The real hope of improvement and happiness lie in the acceptance of who we are — both strengths and weaknesses alike. And then striving to improve on the weaknesses and make the strengths grow stronger. Honesty to ourselves is the key to honesty with others.

One Saturday afternoon, a preacher was preparing his sermon in his study. His 4-year-old son kept bothering him, and so to keep him busy, he tore a page from a magazine with a map of the world on it. He tore the map into little pieces to make a puzzle for his son. He gave the pieces to the boy thinking that it would keep his son busy for hours. Instead, a few minutes later, the boy returned with the map in perfect order.

“How did you put it together so quickly?” the preacher asked his son.

“When you ripped out the page from the magazine,” said the boy, “I noticed a man on the backside of the map. I knew if I put the man together right, the world would be right.”

Truer words were never spoken.

The second obligation we have is to be honest with our prospects. It’s always better to tell the truth than try to remember a lie. Intuitively, a high percentage of prospects can detect when they are being misled.

Here are a few basic guidelines to abide by when dealing with prospects and customers:

•Don’t overstate the benefits of your product.

•Don’t leave details out purposely that will hurt your prospect.

•Don’t accept money or gifts under false pretenses.

•Don’t offer money or gifts under false pretenses.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Honesty is the best policy. A person who isn’t honest just doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose.” In the long run, good guys do win.

The third place where honesty must be present is within your company. Your company is like a ship; all the employees are on board. Well, you can’t sink half of a ship. If the crew goes down, the officers go down as well. Ultimately, everyone benefits or doesn’t benefit together.

What does this mean to you? It means that you should never lie or stretch your numbers on a sales activity report. Either you made the calls or you didn’t. Either way, just be a man or a woman about it and face up to your performance.

Remember, whatever you put in the lives of others comes back into your own.

It is a truth that so many people are interested in getting all that is coming to them, and not in giving more than they get. People who just do the job don’t get promoted.

People who overflow the job get more money and more responsibility.

So, when it comes to sales ethics, honesty just about sums it up, but here is another thought. Whether it’s honesty or something else, you can’t buy business — the long-term and profitable kind we all want — with anything but good service and good products. 

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