You’re at a client meeting when your customer asks you, “Your company can do this, yes?” You pause and think, “Sure, we could do it.” But you’re also aware of another company or service provider who would likely be better suited for the task. What do you do? You’re responsible for winning the account, and perhaps there is an incentive for your success. So, you agree with your customer, right?
I recently read an article that answers this question based on one simple truth – always serve the best interests of your customer, even if they are counter to your own or those of your company. Classic, perhaps, but in a business world seemingly full of employees who are looking to serve their short-term interests at your financial expense, I believe a refresher is in order. And if you wear the business development hat, this one’s especially for you.
Listen, I get it. We live in a short-term world. Sales pipelines, scoreboards, and stock prices, for example, all share the commonality of being evaluated constantly amidst a façade of “long-term objectives.” You’ve seen it before. Remember when Ron Johnson rolled out his “Fair and Square” pricing strategy in January 2012 as part of a four-year plan to turn around J.C. Penney? On Monday, less than 18 months after his hiring, Mr. Johnson was shown the door in light of failing to meet board expectations. Whew. That was fast.
The truth is, in business, you have to achieve both short- and long-term goals. But for those in the selling profession, that’s only possible if you put your clients first. Focus too much on the former and your poor reputation will inhibit your next sale. Emphasize the latter and you’ll likely be fired for poor performance. Balance, like many things in life, is necessary.
So stay true to your professional brand and that of your company. Forgo that sales incentive for now. Be ridiculously open and honest with people. Be direct. You will earn more, I promise. After all, if there is any benefit to being in a field known for incredibly low rates of professional ethics, it’s that the opportunity to standout is huge. Why wouldn’t you want to seize that opportunity?