There isn’t one successful professional salesperson or business development specialist who hasn’t found themselves at the moral crossroads of having to make a decision to be silent, or to speak the truth to a business decision-maker and possibly put a deal at risk. The safest position in these cases has been to adhere to the code: “The customer is always right.”
The fact is, most buyers and sellers know the truth: sometimes customers do get it wrong, it’s just their being wrong may not necessitate comment and the prospect of them spending their money with you (or someone else) makes them “right.” If you’re a sales or business development professional and you feel conflicted in this scenario, congratulations! Your conscience and moral foundation are in fine operating condition. Sometimes moral standards and financial issues do come into conflict.
The Customer is Always Right is a powerful lie. What’s interesting is that over the years after hearing this same statement repeated over and over again from the mouths of intelligent, well-meaning business owners and executives, we should be impressed with the longevity and power of this falsehood. Why? Because ironically, there’sa contradictory but viable measure of wisdom that professional sales andbusiness development specialists understand:
- Customers have a right to be wrong. Be quiet and let them be wrong UNLESS the consequences would cause harm or injury.
- You’re not in the “Business Prevention” business and you probably don’t work for a non-profit organization. You’re in sales.
- When doing the morally right thing means it’s the wrong for your client OR your employer’s business… surrender the business opportunity – don’t do the deal and/or pass it on to a supervisor. There’s power in a clean conscience, and prosperity without peace-of-mind… is hell on earth.
Christopher Bell, III