How to establish ethical behaviour in sales

Nov 28th '19

Sales by nature is very competitive. Healthy competition can motivate your sales team into completing the highest number of deals and capturing the highest commission.


However, high quota demands, and an emanating fast-paced environment can push salespeople into conducting improper sales practices. Thereby exploiting the trust customers place in you and the quality relationship which has developed. But the following practices can help keep a broad perspective and help support your customers and sales team.


  • Build trust towards your organisation and business

Sales interactions between salesperson and customer need to build trust and credibility throughout the journey. This requires, on the part of the salesperson, a strong belief in your organisation, products and how you conduct business. Therefore, knowledge in the company’s products and applications but additionally in understanding customers’ needs is paramount.


Building customer trust can be achieved through testimonials, providing customers with credible data, confidence in non-verbal communication as well as asking customers open-ended questions to better understand your customers’ prior experiences.


  • Present accurate information with clarity

Salespeople who show confidence in what they are talking about reassure customers that the information being presented is reliable. Honest information provides credibility and can alleviate any doubts prospective customers may have. In instances where the sales rep is unable to provide information, they should admit it and then arrange to present it at a mutually convenient date.


  • Offer honest competitive comparisons

An integral part of the job of a sales professional is understanding your firm’s market position in a competitive environment. Knowledge of competitors’ products is important especially in terms of features and how they compare. But the delivery of providing truthful comparisons is critical in that any criticism will be considered unethical. The quality and value of the sales rep’s own company’s products should be highlighted without speaking negatively about the competition.


  • Be accountable for problems that arise

It may be tempting to lay the blame on someone else for any problems that may arise. But taking immediate responsibility for your actions if you are at fault and providing a means to resolve the situation is a more ethical approach. Not taking responsibility could damage your relationship, thereby impacting future sales.


  • Address issues promptly and honestly

Problems do arise in the sales process. Examples could include delivery delays, quality concerns or unexpected price increases. It is important for the sales rep to resolve any issues or concerns the customer may have which will help maintain their trust. An ethos based on providing a solution makes an effective sales professional and gains the trust and respect of the customer.


  • Pursue commitments

Once a salesperson has taken responsibility and they make a commitment to a prospect or client, they need to ensure that they follow up, whether it be a promise to provide further information, make a follow-up call or attend a scheduled meeting. Failure to do so suggests a lack of commitment to the prospect’s business. Ultimately, not keeping your word indicates unethical behaviour.


  • Tackle objections with sincerity

Dealing with customer objections is not an easy task to deal with. How an objection is handled can either make or break your selling efforts. Unethical behaviour in handling objections could constitute dishonest reactions towards a product feature enquiry or arguing with a prospective client. An ethical response which acknowledges and appreciates the prospect’s concerns reflects positively as it demonstrates the sales person’s interest in the business and helps build trust.


  • Consider customer needs

Only by understanding customers’ needs and expectations are salespeople able to provide accurate information. By asking customers questions as well as conducting preliminary research, salespeople can find out more about their needs and expectations, which could range from an expected delivery date to customised training.


  • Generate and maintain an ethical selling-based culture

Sales staff will follow ethical selling if it is reinforced by their organisation. It is the responsibility of the sales manager to instil a culture which fosters ethical selling – if managers exhibit ethical behaviour themselves, and underline its importance, they are, in effect, creating a code of ethics. This incorporates an emphasis on developing customer relationships, training sales reps to sell honestly and simplify product information for the customer.


Advocating ethical sales behaviour not only provides a morally sound sales approach but also contributes towards an effective business strategy. The adoption of ethical sales practices positively impacts the organisation, brand reputation, customer trust and sales.


Creating engaging, compliant sales presentations, in a way that maximises the time you have to spend on other parts of your job, is an essential skill for all sales professionals.


Follow these tips and you could be on your way to producing more professional, successful presentations.


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