If you “sell out” on your personal ethics, you lose more than you can measure.  Guard your integrity.

It’s almost a shame this is even a topic that needs to be written about.  First off, I don’t write this from a “holier than thou” perspective.  Believe me, I’ve been challenged in my ethics and integrity many times along the way, and there have been times as I look back where I see I did not live up to the standards I profess.

We all have at one time or another struggled with this, which makes it such an important topic to discuss.

The single biggest thing I’ve found is once a line is crossed once, it becomes far easier to cross it again and again.  Too many times the “line” is something we feel we should not cross, but for one reason or another, we allow ourselves to do it once with the idea we’ll do it “just this one time.”

Amazing how “one time” can quickly become a second and third time —  and then we find ourselves doing it without even thinking about it.

One area where I find this happening in sales is with regard to phone calls and emails.  It’s too easy to shade or color a response to a customer to put ourselves in the best light.   The problem is the shading we do is nothing more than masking or covering up the failure on our end to do what we had said we would do.

Customers buy integrity — they buy ethics. If they aren’t willing to buy these, then you have to ask yourself if they’re a customer worth having.  What I’ve found is that over time, customers and salespeople begin to mirror each other.

Customers who have a lower set of standards in ethics and values will typically align themselves with salespeople who have similar standards.  Customers who have high ethics and values will align themselves with like-minded salespeople.   As often as I see this in business, I’m always surprised when I share this insight with clients.  Typically they’re shocked and initially don’t subscribe to my theory; however, as they begin to think it through more, they begin to see where it makes sense.

The piece that amazes me most is in my experience the salespeople and customers who subscribe to a higher level of integrity are the same ones who typically achieve higher profit and growth margins than others in their industry.

Ethics and values pay in the long-run, but the only way to achieve them is by being willing to forgo what appears to be a short-term gain that requires a compromise of ethics.

I’m not going to go into a full explanation here as to what I see are the meaning of ethics and values and how you can develop them.  The only thing I’ll say is ethics and values are built upon your core principles.

They take years to build and only seconds to loose.

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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