Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel started the 2017 Formula One Grand Prix of Bahrain from the 3th position, but directly at the start could overtake Mercedes driver Luis Hamilton, what was an important move to stay in close distance to then leading Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Besides his driving ability and the speed of the car, he had a third advantage. As on the left side of the track there had been less dust, it was easier to accelerate there than for the competitors, who started from the right side.

US American author, salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar defined once: “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” Based on this two-step-plan, companies try to be perceived as sympatric as possible by their potential clients. This may include gifts & hospitality, but in times of implemented Ethics & Compliance programs, including the regarding ISO 19600 standard, and advanced anti-corruption laws, more companies decline even low value invitations.

External sales agents still play a relevant part in a company’s strategy. Thanks to their cultural and technical knowledge, or existing business contacts, they are able to “clean the track” and allow a company to gain a faster access to the potential client. These intermediates are an opportunity & risk factor, and it is business decision use them. Risks mean costs, so that the active monitoring of such intermediates shall be included into the cost calculations. A good start can be the first step to win the race. On the other hand the first curve already can mean the end of the race. It is the company’s decision how much risk to take on at the start and surely, you want to have the adequate Compliance Car.

Shortly before the start the drivers present the highest stress levels. This can block the ability of logical thinking. The results are numerous start accidents. Similar to that, employees face high stress, if a an important business relation has to be established and / or a “must win” project to be won. Business partners are not the enemy. The Ethics & Compliance department can take the opportunity for an active monitoring and expand its training sessions to the external partners. In the case that these are small companies or even natural persons, the Compliance Officer may offer him or herself as possible contact person for the different questions. This could be a first support, but of course not replace legal counseling. At the end both, company and intermediate, have the same goal, a sustainable and growing business relation.

After the start, the following part of the race is to establish a trustful relationship with the potential client. It has to be communicated that the company is capable and willing to offer the required solution in price, time and quality. The organization has to present itself as trusted company, including adequate ethical and complaint behavior, but also as trusted technical expert. If both is given, as in Bahrain, where Vettel could pass Bottas, the company wins the race thanks to its reputation and gains the contract.

Trust can be earned through positive experience, but also pure word-of-mouth. It needs time to be build up, but can be destroyed in seconds. The Compliance Car has to be reliable and the driver concentrated. Even a small error may signify the end of the race!

Henz, Patrick (2017): “Compliance is a Race Car.”