Let me share a painful lesson I learned early in my sales career.

One morning the owner of the company I worked for walked into my office and asked me how sales were going and, more importantly, how customers liked a certain product.

I shared with him things were good and I wasn’t hearing any issues at all about the product he asked about. I asked him why he was so concerned about this one item.   Without hesitating, he said, “That’s good, because we changed the product formula to be able to make it a lot cheaper.”

I then asked why we didn’t change the packaging and the name, and his response stunned me. His response was, “Why should we? If the customer doesn’t notice, we’re fine and we’ll make more money.”

Obviously what we were doing was in violation of multiple consumer laws. What hurt the most was what he said next: “Why should you care? You’re a salesperson. You people cheat all the time.”

That exchange of conversation 35 years ago still hurts. It hurt then and it hurts now.

I couldn’t believe the owner of the company I was working for would do something like what he had done. I couldn’t believe it. Or maybe I just didn’t want to believe it.

Was I being naïve about what was going on around me?  This was not an isolated situation. Although I had only been there a few months, I had seen enough and heard enough to know there was other unethical stuff going on.

The more I looked around, the more I noticed how many of the people in the company operated under the belief you can cheat all you want and it’s not an issue unless you get caught. It was at that point I learned another lesson. People who have zero ethics will tend to hang around with other people who have zero ethics.

Within a month of that conversation, I was gone from that company, and in hindsight I should have quit immediately. But I was too scared of being unemployed. The past couple of months I’ve been talking about this issue a lot and have received multiple emails from people sharing their nightmare situation about having their ethics challenged.

If you’re in a situation like this, I can’t say it loud enough — get out and get out quick! We become like those with whom we associate. You can’t afford to be compromised, and it starts by not associating with anyone who does allow themselves to be compromised.


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Copyright 2017, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.  



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