Not long after beginning my sales career, my first sales manager hired his unqualified son as a sales person. “Nepotism is a basic human instinct, like sex and aggression” says Adam Bellow in the book, In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History. The actions of this father-son duo soon led to a visit from the company’s vice president, but I landed in the hot seat.
The sales manager had taken a call from a customer who wished to place a large order. My manager secretly funneled the order to his son. The sales person responsible for that territory found out about the secret order. She lodged a written complaint with the corporate office. This prompted the vice president’s visit and an unexpected offer to me.
It seems that if a customer submits a written request for a specific sales person to handle their account, then the customer’s request supersedes the protected territory guidelines. The vice president assured me this letter existed, but it had somehow been lost. He asked me to be a “good teammate” and help keep peace in the office. “All you have to do is say you saw the letter,” he said. The vice president promised me that my loyalty would not be forgotten and my future would be bright with the company.
I asked the vice president to envision this moment as a scene in a television sitcom. The setting would have us both at a moral crossroads where we must choose between right and wrong. I chose to be the character who had the strength not to lie about seeing the letter. A wise man wrote in Selling 101, “With integrity you have nothing to fear because you have nothing to hide.”
Which character would you be in the sitcom that defines your career?