Early in my career, I worked with a salesperson who thought whatever you had to do to make a sale was okay and fair game — as long as it wasn’t illegal.  I witnessed a number of tactics that made me cringe.

For example, this salesperson sat in a meeting with a F500 client days before the end of our fiscal year, a $500K quote in hand. The salesperson told the client how he was behind in quota and likely to lose his job if he didn’t get their order. The story went on to paint a picture of the impact this would have on family and career. I found myself staring down at the table as the story went on. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and was embarrassed.

Eventually, the client agreed to make the purchase before the end of our year. I have always thought they agreed to purchase just to stop the story and get us out of there. Disconnected utilities and foster homes for the kids were sure to be the next phase of pending doom were we not to get the order today.

When we got the parking lot, this salesperson turned my way, pumped a fist, and said “I got the order!” The excitement had nothing to do with making quota, saving a job or keeping face with family. The excitement was that we had the order…everything had been a tactic to get the order today.

I never again looked at this person the same. I’m sure our F500 client didn’t look at us or our company the same either. And this salesperson didn’t care. He got the order. And in his world, that’s all that matters.

What do you think? Is this going too far to get an order? Or is anything and everything fair in sales? Where is the limit on ethical behavior in sales?


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