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The Ethics Coach on Exit Strategy Etiquette

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This story appears in the May 2014 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: My contract with our salespeople says that if they make a sale but leave the company before the deal closes, they are not paid the commission. Is this policy ethical?

A: I don't think it is ethical or a good business strategy. The best way to attract talented people is to make it known that you treat staffers--current and former--fairly. Prospective customers sense when salespeople are upbeat about what they are selling. You may not be able to hold on to salespeople who get offers you can't match, but if they leave saying good things to their network about you and the company, your reputation grows exponentially. As you review your policy, consider taking the long-term view of the business and reputation you are building--the ROI for paying people what they've earned.

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