What are your professional values? How do they impact your relationships on a daily basis? Do they align with the values of the organization? Does that factor into your decision to work with a company? How about a customer?
Most people have a personal set of values they carry with them that were developed over their entire life. Perhaps instilled from family members, a religious doctrine, culture, or environment. Professional values, although rooted in personal values, comes from somewhere else entirely.
Brendan McDaid, the 2016 winner of the Critical Prize for Writing awarded by The Scottish Organization for Practice Teaching, wrote a paper on the contrast between personal and professional values. In it, Mr. McDaid writes “What is unique about personal values in comparison to professional values is that they can often change and alter as the individual develops, through life experience, societal influences, political awareness and as their understanding of people develops. Professional values, on the other hand, are not personal to the individual; they are a formal guide [professionals] must adhere to which aim to create a professional culture that improves practice and attempts to draw boundaries around what is deemed acceptable conduct.”
In the world of selling, your professional values are your bond to company and customer. They are what separates you from every other rep that is knocking on your customer’s door. They also make up the critical foundation of what it takes for both the company and the salesperson to work together and to truly succeed. Your ability to interact professionally with trust and integrity means having values that are shared across all teams, leaders, and owners.
Professional values are a reflection of yourself and your character. There was a time when a handshake was all you needed to seal a deal and the paperwork was a formality. These days, we bring out the paperwork first and shake afterwards (maybe a little less now with the pandemic).
I’m a member of Sales and Marketing Executives International, a non-profit organization established in 1935 dedicated to ethical standards, continuing professional development, knowledge sharing, and mentoring students. Members abide by a written code of ethics and a creed that sets the professional boundaries for how sales and marketing professionals deal with their customers. It’s a doctrine that I firmly believe in.
I would caution anyone who doesn’t investigate and understand the values of the company they want to work for, or the employee/contractor they are considering for hire. There are still a great of both out there who have yet to find their values.