Crossing that Line

I know that many people tell fibs, especially when it comes to business. Recently someone who works a direct sales business like mine remarked that they tell their hosts that company policy is that their show has to close before the end of the month. Technically, since it’s an independent consultancy, which makes it his/her business, that could be seen as true. There are many, many consultants who do this. However, that’s not really corporate policy.

You see, this consultant, like many of us, likes for her shows to close before the end of the month because that’s how most of our incentives are set up—held and submitted in a certain month. It can also make a difference in a consultant’s commission, since we’re compensated according to a sliding scale based on sales for each individual month.

I’ve talked before about making sure that I control the public perception of my brand. One of the hallmarks I want associated with my brand is integrity. If I imply something that is untrue, my host/customer is going to perceive that as dishonest. I’ve now broken trust with that person.

Imagine this scenario. I’m the consultant for Helen Host’s show. I tell her that her August 28 show must be closed before the end of the month in order for her to get the August Host Special. Two weeks later she talks with her acquaintance, Susie. Susie mentions that she, too, just had a show with the same company but with a different consultant. Helen says that she wished she could have had a couple of more days to close her show because a couple of people approached her with orders after her show had closed, but she really wanted that August special. Susie says, “Oh, I didn’t close my show until September 4, and I still got the August special.”

Do you think Helen will ever choose to do business with me again? Probably not. My business is only as strong as my word. Fudging the truth, semantics, or whatever you call it, it’s a line I’m not willing to cross.

I shared my opinion on a social networking site for my fellow consultants. I’m sure there will be people there who disagree with my opinion. Maybe some of you disagree with me. That’s fine. I’m not saying that people who choose to cross that particular line are horrible people. I just think it’s important to consider the consequences of crossing that line.

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