27. Ethical Salesmanship
Inside Scoops
Approximately 30 minutes
The negative fallout from keeping customers “out of the loop” has created
glaringly critical outcries from the public. Witness the recent scandals involving
cars and tires that were sold despite the companies’ knowledge of dangerous
deficiencies or medical offices that fail to tell patients their doctors have been
convicted of malpractice in other states. Participants in this exercise are asked to
consider what customers want to/need to/deserve to/should/shouldn’t know about
the product or service participants provide.
To stimulate thinking about the kind of information that can be/should be shared
with customers without jeopardizing organizational policies.
Any size group, divided into subgroups of four or five.
Seating flexible enough to accommodate groups of different sizes.
Handout 27.1, “Information: Inside/Out
Small scraps of paper
Elicit examples of organizations that make their customers feel included
and/or important by sharing “insider” information—delivery companies, for
example, that allow the customer access to tracking information so that they
can learn the transit-status of their packages.
Ask participants to write a number from 1 to 5 on a scrap of paper. The
number indicates the degree to which their own organizations share
information with customers: “1” indicates very little “insider” information is
shared; “5” indicates the company is exemplary in sharing information with
Form groups on the basis of the numbers—all the “1”s will sit together; all the
“2”s will sit together, et cetera. Have them briefly discuss why they assigned
the numbers they did.
Distribute Handout 27.1 and allow 10 to 15 minutes for completion. (Note: If
participants are not all from the same organization, have the subgroups select
one representative organization to use in their handout-matrix.)
Conclude the exercise by having one group sit in a “fishbowl” with the other
participants seated around the inner circle. Have the fishbowl-group explain
their decisions while the others assume the role of customers.
Wrap up by having the “customers” provide feedback on the report they heard
from the fishbowl-group.
Consider using a focus group to learn how customers feel/would feel about certain
information-sharing changes your sales team may be considering.
Assemble a group of six or seven representative customers.
Advise them that you’d like to tape record or videotape their meeting.
Create a relaxed atmosphere within a structured (agenda-driven) framework
and with a moderator who can refrain from becoming involved in the
responses to the questions he or she poses.
Have the sales team in the background, taking notes on their observations but
not participating in any way in the discussion.
The sales team should meet as soon as possible following the focus group
meeting, with the original problem-solvers/decision-makers. They should
evaluate their impressions and compare them to the actual tape recording.
Focus-group input is one valuable means of determining what customers
would like to know and what they feel they need to know.
What information is “closely held” in your own organization?
Does your organization have its secrets?
Does the withholding of this information from consumers cross any ethical
What information not now provided to customers do you feel they would
appreciate having?

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