Questions and Discussions

Here’s a good place for questions and discussions.

What is ethical in sales? What does it mean to be unethical in sales? Is it the act or the intent that makes a behavior unethical? If it is legal, is it ethical? What happens when you have someone act unethically against you?

Let’s talk about what you have seen as the biggest or most common ethical issue in sales. Post questions, comments, suggestions on what you would do, or even a good story of the most atrocious ethical lapse you have seen either in selling or as a buyer. We might not find or have the answer, but discussion can only be good for the profession of selling.



  1. You are approached by a buyer who says he or she would like to order from you but the current supplier has been with them a long time, and he would hate to lose trips to football and basketball games that happen several times a year.

    What do you do?

    • Thank him for the call and the opportunity to serve his company. Let him know that you are all about providing the best product/service at a fair price that will benefit his company as a whole. Prospects that have their hand out are not loyal and will leave you in a second for a better spiff. Be careful, this could be a trap, too. Years ago I had a prospect that wanted a kick back if he sent me a large project. I responded with the above message and he came back with, “Good, some of that has happened around here before and we do not want that with our new vendors.” I got that project, kicked butt on it, then only got a few minimal things in the future, so figure I busted him and he really wanted the kick back.

  2. I ran across this blog entry from 6 years ago. What would you do?

  3. I posted the following to LinkedIn and generated some interesting comments and thoughts.

    Sales ethics. What are they? Is the field of sales getting more ethical or less ethical? What have you seen as the most egregious example of unethical sales behavior? What did you do about it?

    Click here to see the Discussion.

    I also posted it to Smaller Indiana, a 6000 plus member site, for discussion.

  4. In my opinion people are getting much better at seeing through the BS. Think back to the simple commercials of the 50’s, all you had to do was sound credible to “be” credible. I see a return to genuinisty (heard it hear first) in the years to come. More business done on the local level, but it took us stepping out to the global economy to realize that some of our best prospects and business allies are right next door.

    • Maybe due in part to the acceptance and expectation of blatant bribery and graft in other countries? At least here some consider it illegal. But if you are in another country where it is common practice, accepted, and part of the system, does that make it unethical?

  5. So if everyone is doing it, it must be ethical. Depends on whether you view ethics as black and white or gray. If you have determined something unethical, it shouldn’t matter how many people are doing it…in a perfect world. I don’t view ethics as set in stone, but rather situation dependent. One could say that it is always unethical to take a life, but what if that person is in complete and total misery? Do your ethics change or does the situation.

  6. We had an interesting discussion in class recently. The topic came up on collecting competitive information from clients. Your client offers to let you see your competitor’s proposal. You didn’t ask, it was offered. You know that this is a good competitor who you go head to head with all the time, and any advantage you can get is helpful. At the same time, most proposals–including yours–has language at the bottom stating that it is confidential. Do you take a copy of the quote or do you decline the offer citing ethical concerns? If you take the copy, is your client more likely to share yours with your competition or if you decline, will that make it less likely that yours is passed around?

  7. This is intellectual property. Its a violation to take someones information and use it as your own. What if I was working for you and I rummage through your personal contact list for new contacts because I have decided I will start my own business in the same field with your clients? Some things come up missing and you start to receive calls from old contacts saying that someone called and tried to recruit me and used your name. Now your business gets fewer call backs and fictitious names are randomly appointed on the books for service but no one shows up. Another current staff member has begun her own business and cancels at one office to work in another, and possibly with your clients. Don’t hire criminals and liars, screen potential employees properly. What is the reason they are unemployed?

    • all situations are fictitious examples brought to light because it was too dark to see how low they could actually go. Thanks for letting me shed some light.
      ~ignorance is bliss~
      Know who you are about to open your life to, and give keys to the front door. THINK of all the hard work it took you to get there!!!

  8. If you are an owner or manger of a Auto Sales Business and you are noticing that some of your employees are using unethical sales techniques, such as stretching the truth to make a sell or false promising, What is the recommended course of action? What do you do to make sure this doesnt take place anymore?

  9. Hey Uplifted hearsay ! an foremostpresent
    Are you in?

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