The First Rule of Sales, “First do no harm”

By Keith Center

(282 words)

In sales, the first rule should follow one of the most basic tenets of medicine.

“First Do No Harm”

This came from the same physician who said “Common problems happen commonly, and rare problems happen rarely.”  He attributed the statement “first do no harm,” to the Greek physician Hippocrates in what is known as the Hippocratic Oath.

Being a bit of a history buff, I did some research on this statement which was attributed to Hippocrates.  Surprising as it is, I found that this statement is not in the Hippocratic Oath.  And although some attribute this to Hippocrates, the evidence appears otherwise.

Some historians believe that this was actually stated by Galen. Galen was a Roman surgeon who made great advances in medicine through patching up gladiators so they could go back to the Coliseum.  Or at least lead as normal a life as a slave could have back then.

Galen was so great a surgeon, that he developed sets of surgical instruments that have modern equivalents.  Recent excavations of Roman sites in the U.K. discovered medical instruments that any surgeon today would instantly recognize.

That’s how advanced Galen’s skill was.  And it is to him that scholars attribute the teaching “First do no harm.”

But it doesn’t matter who said it, we should do it.  This teaching should resonate with us.  So when it comes to selling, “First do no harm.”

We should always be mindful of this edict and be honest, be open, and not mislead the customer.  If we don’t abide by “first do no harm,” the Rule of Fives will kick in, and we know who it’s going to kick, too.

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Copyright © 2009 Keith Center

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