I received a flood of responses about my recent blog on “Ethical Selling”. Most were private e-mails from sales people who have had to defend their ethics.
For many, the most frequently confronted issue was the company’s need for more sales versus the code of ethics of the individual sales person. Others wrote about the day-to-day challenge of doing the ethical thing. It seems that the lines can blur when commission dollars are on the line. They asked how to tell if you are crossing the line.
Having given it more thought, please consider this list of questions to ask yourself when confronted with an ethical choice:
– Would you feel bad if this behavior was published tomorrow in the New York Times and you were specifically named in the article?
– Would you be uncomfortable talking about it during a performance review?
– Would your customer be worse off if you went forward with this decision?
– Would you be upset if someone did this to you?
– Would you fear being caught if you went forward with this decision?
– Would your mother or father disapprove of your behavior?
– Have others been reprimanded for this practice?
– Have you been spending a lot of time worrying about this issue?
– If you practice a formal religion, is the decision in keeping with the teachings?
– Would you be proud of yourself and the decision/behavior, even during private musings?
Candidly, if the answer is yes to any of these questions (except the last one), the behavior is probably unethical. Do the right thing and don’t do it.
John Bradley Jackson
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