The Ethics of Suggestion

The first thing is that we must clarify is the definition of ethics. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.” Taking the responsibility and knowing if a suggestion is right for the customer, not your sales. Think about it, what do you think of when someone says used car salesman. The most common knee jerk response is a picture of a sleazy salesman who is only after your money. No one wants that kind of reputation. At the same time it is the “upgrade” that brings profitability to your business.

The Balance

It can be difficult to know where the ethical balance of suggestion is. It is that balance that makes the difference of being able to pay the bills and profit margin. The best way to keep a person standard in business is to decide your limits, or how far will you go to make that dollar. This is especial important for small local businesses. Using me as an example: the last time I bought a computer I was having difficulty deciding which one was for me. This is where, as a customer, I have to rely on the integrity of the salesman. The salesman is going to want to sell me the most expensive item in my price range. He/she will also try to get me to purchase other things to go with the computer whether I need it or not. A salesmen with ethics will know when to stop trying to milk the cow. Establish trust with local customers to ensure they buy local first, and they will remember you for your honesty.

  • Know where to draw the line
  • Suggestions are fine to use as long as it pertains to the customer’s needs
  • Use integrity to help guide your ethical meter

The Suggestion

That suggestion for an extra item is focal point of balance between ethics and business. We have all heard the questions for an upgrade. If you go to a fast food restaurant and order only a plain hamburger, the very next thing you are going to hear is if you would like cheese on that, then you’re asked if you want fries with that. These type of suggestions are all part of business, this is were we make the money. Here’s the thing-knowing when the suggestion is truly necessary or are you just putting the squeeze on someone. I worded in auto-parts store for a number of years where I was trained the art of the up-sell. If someone came in wanting a single spark-plug wire, I was to attempt to convince them to buy an entire tune up. That would be fine, and yes it is important to change out all of your wires at the time, but sometimes all you need is just one. Instead of a $10 sale it was inflated to a good $150 before he left with his lifetime wire set, distributor kit, and a various assortment of filters. When all he really needed was one wire.

photo credit: Handshake – 2 men via photopin (license)