Integrity Matters
November 10, 2004

Your moral compass points in right direction

Question: (E-150)

Dear Jim:

A customer where I work asked to be helped by one of my colleagues, who wasn't there that day. He then approached me for help, specifying that he was looking for a high-end washer and dryer. I demonstrated several pairs that would meet his needs. I must have spent more than 45 minutes with this customer. I did everything I knew to be an effective salesperson by establishing a rapport and demonstrating my product knowledge on all of the appliances. It appeared I built some trust because he asked for my opinions and most importantly, "I closed the sale."

However, at the point of sale the customer approached me asking if we worked on commission. I replied by saying yes, and I would make sure that my colleague -- whom he had asked for originally -- would receive full credit for the sale. I also had promised my colleague I would do this for her.

The customer then said, "No, I want you to have the commission because you helped me choose my appliances. All that your colleague did was answer the phone, confirming that this company did sell appliances, clarifying the address."

Considering the customer's comment, what is the appropriate action to take?


You know what you promised to your colleague. You also appreciate the sincerity of the satisfied customer who wanted to commend you for your thoroughness and professionalism. How you choose to share your wealth is your decision. An old friend reminded me that "what goes around comes around." When individuals live with integrity, being good for their word, they establish their values (what they believe) and their standards, really their character (how they conduct themselves, even when no one is watching).

So, there is only one question to ask: What kind of reputation do you intend to build? Once you answer this question, you will know what to do with the commission.

The customer knows that you delivered knowledge, professionalism and timeliness. You confirmed to the customer that you earned the commission. Congratulations!

Your question of what to do reflects your own admirable "moral compass" -- that internal set of operating principles that guide your actions. A deal is a deal. A verbal handshake, between and among integrity-centered individuals, is as ironclad as an "attorney-worded" written contract.

In this instance, you have chosen the high road because you know that integrity (really) matters.

Be patient. Success is already yours. The economic rewards will follow, because you are good for your word. Any responsible leader would be proud to have you as part of the team.

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