A short while ago, someone I respect in the sales training community asked me a question that took me aback for a moment – was it ethical for me to reach out to my community of readers and practitioners for recommendations?
You see, a major part of my practice here at Impactiviti is making recommendations – trying to help sales training clients find the best solutions and vendor/partners for their needs (“matchmaking,” if you will). But on a regular basis, I get requests that are outside of my sweet spots of knowledge, in which case I reach out to my inner circle of trainers and vendors for advice and recommendations.
I’m very open about this. My desire is to get the best possible answer for my clients, and part of my research methodology is finding out what YOU think – after all, I can’t know everything and everybody! Since the information exchange is done anonymously (the need is presented with no identifying company information, and the recommendations are presented as coming from others in the field, but without ID), this allows a free and easy exchange of information among all of us.
Now, if I was pretending that all ideas were mine, and was doing no real work except re-packaging other peoples thoughts and presenting them as my own, I’D have ethical problems with that, too! But I put forth a lot of creativity and thought in my consulting work, and I believe that part of the value I bring is the immense power of a living and sharing network.
I enjoy leaning on the expertise of others when it is called for, and many of you quite evidently don’t mind sharing. Which I deeply appreciate (as do the clients who benefit)!
Can a company actually be built, and thrive, on creativity and networking? Well, I’ve bet my professional life on it. And the results speak for themselves. But, as my clients will attest, I also practice full disclosure – my methods are clear for all to see, and I let my clients know plainly about business partnerships wherein I would benefit from specific recommended services (and, many times, I make recommendations where I gain no financial benefit – because the best solution to a need is sometimes not found within my provider network).
So there you have it. Yes, I’m an idealist. Yes, I believe in altruism, and in the power of networking. Yes, I am convinced that honesty and integrity can actually be the foundation of a successful business. When my clients thank me for my advice and recommendations, and my partners gladly take on new work that is right in their “sweet spot,” I am immensely gratified, because everybody wins. As long as we all know how it works, and value is added all around, it’s not only ethical…it’s downright fun!
“I get a tremendous amount of value out of the Impactiviti newsletter and blog, and my personal interactions with Steve Woodruff have always been thought-provoking and helpful. He maintains an extensive network that spans and goes well beyond the pharma sales training community. If you’re not calling on Impactiviti when you have training needs, you should!” Mike Kartman, Senior Manager, Sales Training and Development,Oncology