Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The ABCs of Sales - E is for Ethics

E is for Ethics

Salespeople are often lampooned as being sleezy, schmoozy, pushy, and not always ethical in getting people to buy their products or services.  While the cliche image of a used car sales person brings with it many negative connotations, actually most car sales professionals that I have met do not fit this stereotype. The reality is that the majority of people who sell for a living are driven to bring value to their customers.

If you work in sales, or are responsible for new business development to keep your company operating, then there can be a lot of pressure on your to make a sale. While it may sometimes seem tempting to stretch the truth in getting a prospect to buy, the best sales people operate from a strong code of ethics.  They know that a single sale is not as important as their reputation or that of their company. 

While some might argue that this topic goes without saying, it is always a good reminder. In a competitive environment there are always desires to win at all cost. The reality is that the best victories in business are win / win / win, which means the buyer wins, the seller wins, and the ongoing relationships wins.  If you ever cross an ethical line, then nobody really wins at all.

If your industry or company has a written code of ethics then the policy is spelled out clearly. However, most people are not working under a published code of conduct.  Thus, we each need to set our own rules for where we draw the line.  

A company I know was once asked to pay a secret commission to someone in order to win a big deal, and they would not do it.  Later their competition was exposed for inappropriate conduct and sanctioned.  By not doing things they knew to be wrong, they saved themselves a lot of headaches down the line.

The best rule of thumb is that if your actions were to be published in the New York Times, would you be proud of the article.  If you get into grey areas and you would not want your friends and relatives to know what you did, then do not do it.

Always treat clients, prospects, competitors, vendors, and others with  respect.  In too many industries people change jobs and have a way of circling back into your life.  If you have not behaved appropriately along the way then it will come back to bite you. 

Never misrepresent your product or service and do not lead the buyer to believe things that are not true about any part of the transaction. Be true to your own set of morals and remember that being in sales should never feel dirty.  If you think what you are saying or doing is somehow wrong, it probably is not right.

Success is a long journey. Never let short term gains let you damage your future position with your company or in your community.  Always remember to behave in an ethical manner as a sales person and you can make a lot of money and sleep soundly at night. 


Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking success.  http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

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