By Jeff Fortney
Another industry professional and I were chatting recently, and the conversation turned to ethics. He said, "There are two distinctly different types of ethics: business ethics and sales ethics. Businesses have to remain ethical so that their value increases. But salespeople sometimes redefine ethics to make sales."
This reminded me of a conversation I had with a mentor years ago. He emphasized that sales ethics must be at the forefront; salespeople must consider their actions and the impact on future sales. "Gaining one sale at the cost of future sales isn't worth it," he said.
The challenge ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) face is that ethics can stop a sale. Since many salespeople are independent, the line between business ethics and sales ethics is not only blurred, but erased. How can MLSs be ethical and successful?
There is potential in every sale to fudge the definition of ethics. Examples include, "I didn't say we could do it; I just didn't say we couldn't." Or, "There'll be no difference in what he gets, but he'll be OK if I drop the price. He doesn't need to know I can't improve his product."
MLSs often straddle ethical and unethical behavior. Sometimes it's easy to avoid the unethical side. During sales cycles though, it can be more difficult. The choice may make the difference between closing the sale at the cost of your ethics, and losing the sale. Choosing the former option typically costs future sales. Worse, it can lead to a merchant discovering the truth and leaving. You lose sales and your reputation.
Ethics and success need not be opposites. Simply follow these basic rules, and you'll see how well they mesh:
Our ethics are always under pressure, by both external and internal factors. Many in the business have succumbed to personal gain over ethical behavior and have suffered the consequences. Their short-term success may tempt, but avoid the temptation.
By remembering these three steps, the long-term success of your efforts will outweigh any short-term benefits derived from letting ethics slide.
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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