We have all had the experience of buying a particular product or service and being cheated—the product or service, or the company delivering it, was fraudulent. We all know how upsetting that can be as a buyer. But what about its effect on the seller and the seller’s company? The “short win” isn’t sustainable.
It can be difficult for people to build something sustainable, especially in today’s “instant gratification” society. Some only want to make that quick buck because money is all that matters.
Today, though, some people increasingly realize that nothing in life happens instantly. A person is not born and immediately becomes an adult. They don’t instantly understand a complex subject such as mathematics. A human’s growth curve is substantially longer than that of many animals. Many animals, such as horses, can walk as soon as they’re born. A human baby isn’t mobile at all, and humans have an additional layer of complexity because they require the human touch of love and care.
Not Just Moral, but Intelligent
This series of articles is not designed to preach. I’m not here to say, “Oh, it’s so important that you are ethical and moral.” I’m here to lay out a theory that is intelligent, long-term, and a better path to walk. It’s also a superior path for reaching financial stability and profit. Today, business neglects the use of any moral compass.
A moral compass is not only crucial for a good and stable society, but also for a company not having its name trashed in the media and its products thrown away and burned. It is an intelligent way to reach these goals.
A moral compass is composed of principles. These go as far back as the Bible and principles such as the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Another deeply rooted principle of humanity is that of altruism, which means performing a good act without expecting anything in return. In today’s world, where you often meet someone twice in life, this is a superior way to operate, because the second time you meet someone, they’ll treat you as you initially treated them.
Such principles are not simply moral, but they are intelligent. They make sense.
It is not a coincidence that, at Pipeliner, we have created a slogan of “Win Together.” The idea behind this slogan is that neither party in a business deal tries to exploit the other unfairly. Sales management—or any management, for that matter—must pay attention to the business to ensure this is done. Winning together is a double-edged sword, helping both sides trim the unhealthy parts of a deal.
Our leadership today is certainly not setting an example of business ethics. Witness the sheer number of impeachments and trials of senators and politicians. It’s a very slippery road we are on.
In ancient times, a traveling merchant had to be careful not to cheat or betray a buyer because it could mean the seller’s life. A buyer being betrayed had a swift sword hand.
The principles of business ethics are laid out, again, as far back as the Old Testament. The book of Proverbs, in chapter 20, verse 10, states that unequal weights and measures are both abominations. In other words, merchants should not use weights and measures that are not accurate and give them an unfair advantage.
The fact that this statement was made shows that businesspeople, even back then, were cheating in this way. Weights could be cheated when buying goods. Measurements could be cheated when buying a piece of property. Why were these things being prohibited in the Bible? Because they bring about unrest, trouble, conflict and war.
Note that responsibility for dealing fairly isn’t just on the seller’s side. Later in the same chapter of Proverbs, an unfair buyer is also discussed, one who unfairly complains to a seller and thereby gets a lower price, and then later boasts about it.
Overcoming Unfairness Today
Today, we have social media that has tools to overcome such unfairness. We have all seen, though, that social media can be both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is when social media is used for honest reviews. Mixed in with these, we have reviews from “robots” that aren’t genuine. There are those companies, though, such as Amazon, that contain both pro and con reviews so that a potential buyer can view both sides.
An example of the curse side comes from my own experience in my company. He came to us with CRM requirements, asking if our system could perform certain functions. We demonstrated to him that it could. After he purchased the software, however, he changed his requirements to something he never went over with us, and came back to us saying, “Hey! You don’t do this!” He then demanded his money back, and went to social media and posted untrue statements about what had transpired. We cannot contest this online, so that’s definitely the “curse” side of social media.
The Sustainable Approach
Too many people today are following the shortest route to a quick win. In the long run, this is devastating because the only things in life that have positive impact and are good for everyone are those that are truly sustainable. Remember the general store in The Waltons television series? The people in that small town would not betray each other because they would then lose each other.
Only the anonymous trader, buyer or seller makes us all so vulnerable, for they are the ones with a short-term mindset. They don’t care how they obtain profit. This is unsustainable.
Today, this unsustainable approach is too often seen in the building trades. A contractor quotes a remodeling job for a kitchen at 80 hours. They then come back, at the end, and say that it took 120 hours—but during that time the homeowner observed them taking 2-hour lunches and spending a lot of time sitting around.
I recently had this happen to me. I hired a transportation company to move some goods, and they were paid by the hour. At one point, we left to go somewhere else, and they didn’t know that we turned around and returned. We caught them sitting in their car outside the house, listening to music and smoking.
The Biblical principles we have quoted above result in honesty, and come out of the understanding that a company’s customer will create their reputation. As I have often said, the currency of the future is recommendations. The transportation company that came to my house will definitely not be getting a positive recommendation.
I appeal to the logical sense of any company that works for recommendations: why ruin your customer base? Your customer base is your best marketing—when you are honest, ethically correct, have fair prices and deliver good service. That is the only route to sustainability.
Seeking Trust and Honesty
The principles quoted earlier are also deeply rooted in the fact that, as humans, we long for honest relationships.
What are people looking for today? People who they can trust. In a society where you can’t trust anymore, people are looking for trust. They don’t want to be cheated. It goes back to the Golden Rule quoted in the beginning of this article.
We all long for honesty because we know we can only trust a real relationship. When trust is betrayed and cut, it is very difficult to gain back. The deeper the relationship, the deeper the cut, and the harder it is to repair. In a marriage, it can truly be impossible, and I think the number one reason for divorce is that the parties involved cannot overcome betrayal.
In seeking trust, we seek a peaceful environment, because betrayal of trust leads to conflict. In business, who benefits most from conflict? Lawyers. A great deal of business law stems from conflict, which only occurs in the presence of betrayal and lack of business ethics.
Coming Back on Them
The last example for this article is one which happened again to us in our own company. We had a customer who was up for CRM renewal. The person in charge at the company had received the renewal invoice, and it appeared everything was fine. He had no complaints about the product or the service.
But then, he didn’t pay the invoice. Our system automatically suspends the customer from using the software when that happens. The man at the company immediately called his Pipeliner sales rep, apologizing profusely and saying he would pay the following week. They were restored, but they removed their data from the system over the weekend and blew us off.
I believe someone who commits an act like that will have it come back to them, perhaps even worse.
There are certainly principles that evolve from an understanding of what is good for your business, your reputation, and in fact all of life. The next article will be all about how we put these into effect.