When are Spin Ethics in Life and Business Valid?

For selling innovation, humour can be used to get a win over a sceptic who wants to stick traditional solutions just because they are trusted and true.

Handling such competition is not always about meeting it head on. A get out of jail card I like is this rhetorical quote embodied in a double dip third party endorsement;

“I think it was, Professor Roland F. Chessman (1), who used a famous Yogi Berra quote to answer that, – ‘Nobody goes there anymore; it is too crowded.“?

Yogi Berra was a champion US baseball player, not the kids show,“Yogi Bear”. But who cares who if you don’t know either of them? By attributing his clever one-liner to a so-called credible person like the Professor associates the ambiguousness of the “humorous one liner” to debunk “don’t go there” situations.

Ok, so you may have heard of one of the Yogis. but who is this Professor, Roland F. Chessman?

“He is a quick witted travelling mentor attached to the prestigious University Ofardnok and adjunct to the faculty at the National Space Center in Partakeinloif. He specialises in teaching the value of original thinking to move people away from the risk of just following convention wisdom.”

But hold on, name dropping a pedigree. is that ok?  Roland may also be concerned that his name as a professional is being linked in a sales pitch.

“Seriously Roland, I only borrowed your professional (2) credentials to get the show under way. Didn’t you do that by quoting Yogi? And we both got the deal done so everyone is happy.”

Ok so while my story is tongue in cheek, what about the ethical side of using this sort of “Come in Spinner” approach?

Before I address that, let me digress.

Some years ago my sister was stressed over how her son was handling his academic endeavours. One issue he had was a system that so often fails to recognize talent of people who just struggle with process.

My nephew, incidentally is a brilliant musician and very sharp, but the bureaucracy and its scoring system held no value for him. I told him Einstein failed at mathematics in grade school, but that did not  inspire him. So I took another tack using a Chessmen styled spin to a famous person quotation.

The initially unnamed quote begged a challenging question of the reader to ask,“Who am I?” In the title too “Who Said” it also begged the reader to also ask who begged the question.

In a blog entry entitled “Who said that” I re published it in on Humour for All Occasions and other third party blogs with some editorial additions. I then forwarded the link to my nephew.

To save you clicking the link here is the text.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Who Said That?

To quote a very famous man,

“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.  So don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.”

“Para-phrasing this great writer, I am reminded that the secret to success is having a clear view of where you are going. You must know too “you can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”.

Here are some other tips:

  1. Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish.
  2. When in doubt on integrity, just tell the truth so you can believe in yourself.
  3. Know the real secret to success in life is to make your vocation your vacation.
  4. Face yourself and got on with it.  Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
  5. Find people who encourage you and shun those who belittle others and their ambitions.
  6. Great people make you feel you can be great too. Small people do the opposite.
  7. It is much easier to start off as a great person so why not?

Posted by Gordon Wood at 9:39 PM

Thankfully it had the desired effect and he got right on track for a kicker result.

To get a credible message over to my nephew my tactic had been to appeal to his curiosity. He quickly cut and paste the quote into Google to identify the author was from Mark Twain, who himself was an enigma (5). In this case, I was clearly ethical, as I did not mislead to give an impression for my advantage. Nor did I infer a third party endorsement or that the quote was mine.

On that bootlegging score, just be aware. My opinion is, plagiarism is for fools (6) whereas adding to a creditable source is often admired. People these days’ research the web and on finding material often forget to acknowledge original authors as they cut, paste and edit furiously to meet deadlines. Such unaccredited material gets embodied leaving the writer in jeopardy to falling foul of a bad name. Another example is Google lowers the ratings on self duplicated material. So I could be judged guilty by Google here as I have reused some from my 2009 post.

Spinning off a credible base can despite good intent can be an ogre and a dubious activity in sales. So beware when quoting from customer’s stories and public domain sources to discredit a competitor for advantage. Using or implying misleading information added to relay an impression can come back to bite you very hard too.

Using Humor well, on the other hand, is often a good tactic to deflect objections or win the debate. As for my borderline case with Roland, I will let you be the judge. A good rule generally is, “The central theme must be original and stand on its own. Then the use of credible references or argued opposing references to support a proposition is usually fine if accurate sources are quoted without inference.”

Ethics aside, commercial integrity is even more transparent these days.  And for any copycats not yet convinced, copyright and related laws are real and enforceable with a commercial flow on and litigation a very likely outcome for breaches. And it is always expensive.

Traditional Solution Selling and SPIN Selling (7) are both legitimate methodologies. But there is no substitute for a quality product with well-matched customer needs. A transparent, honest sales process needs credible people who can think fast and listen well. They need a good process and skill to research prospects landscapes. The key is timing and being able to assess the value they can bring, while always understanding competitive influences.

This combination will always win over shortcuts and clever salesman tricks of deliberately misleading to relay an advantageous impression.

On the other hand not having a good approach to handling objections will invariably find you up the creek without a paddle.

  1. The real name and biography of Roland F. Chessman, if he exists at all, is withheld. It has no relevance to this article at all except to make a point.  So fictions or not he shall remain nameless and can rest easy and uncompromised.
  2. It is frowned on in many Professions and in some cases illegal for misuse of a practitioner’s  name. In professions with high standing of public trust, for examples such as medical, scientific, accountants and financial advisors, misuses of their standing for commercial advantage is unacceptable. Any spin-off advantage to a third party outcome, even with legitimate professionals themselves advocating it, is seen by many as dishonest. Professional people are therefore very wary of approaches for use of their names.
  3. 3 Yogi Berra us now one of my favorites now, thanks to my mate who is real and introduced his humour to me.  And I am very happy to quote him directly even if you don’t know anything about American baseball heroes. He is such a dry humoured man with a quick wit. Check him out?
  4. 4 Humour for all Occasions is a private blog with a humour collection from colleagues and friends. Humour material is often great as an aid to business understanding and a tool for learning.
  5. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. (Wikipedia).
  6. Publishers, Universities and such now routinely test for plagiarism by uploading a submitted document to software programs, that look for copied objects and text in millions of cross-references sources over the web.  There are also many free scanners e.g. http://www.scanmyessay.com
  7. Solution Selling and SPIN Selling are well tested and legitimate sales methodologies

Solution selling is a special approach to sales. Rather than just pushing an existing product the salesperson focuses on the customer’s pain(s) and addresses these in his or her solution to these problems. The goal is to present a “no-brainer” decision, whereby the sales person offers a solution to a “pain” or problem admitted to and preferably quantified by the customer. Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solution_selling“SPIN is an acronym for a well tested sales methodology that works.  It is NOT about dubious misleading practices but stands for Situation Problems Implications Solutions and makes up the as cornerstone of this quality sales process. See  Neil Rackham, SPIN Selling, McGraw Hill, 1996

  1. Come in Spinner – is an Australian phrase that refers to a sucker being taken in by confidence trick.

It is said to have come from and association with a famous Australia working man’s past time called Two-up. Here two coins are tossed for group betting. Many lost their wages in the process. But this gambling game was very popular in the pioneering days and a national favorite that flourished in the face of moralists of the time who also declared it Illegal. The truth is It was also subject to rouges and trickery in the side betting, Hence the spinner term association with suckers.The game is very popular in Casinos where it is now played.  Bets are placed on a mat on one of 3 squares in ring style format, Bets are closed on the call, “come in spinner”, as the two coins are then tossed off a flat batten by the spinner with the result being only one of three possible outcomes of heads and tails. The game is continuous as winners and losers are declared and wagers paid by the banker. This simple group gambling game is infectious and quite unique.

The  Come in Spinner Featured Image is taken from http://www.history.sa.gov.au/media_releases/images/twoup.jpg






One thought on “When are Spin Ethics in Life and Business Valid?

  1. Another relevant famous Yogi Berra quote may be something like this: “In theory there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice there is”

    To be precise the Mark Twain quote is: “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. But Yogi trumped that with “The future aint what it used to be”

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