Ethics in Sales Management01/09/2020
Ethical sales behavior, in its purest form, is making a daily, task-by-task decision to put the customer first and serve them from a heart of honesty and servanthood.
Your sales team puts the customers needs ahead of their own.
When salespeople focus purely on meeting their quota by any means necessary, both the salesperson and their customers lose. Potential customers pick up on unethical sales practices almost immediately, and when they do, it immediately destroys any hope creating a fruitful relationship.
Ethical salespeople don’t see their potential customers as a list of potential transactions, but as a group of people whom they might have the opportunity to listen to, understand, and guide to a solution that helps them with whatever problems their product or service can solve.
- Your sales team builds customer relationships based on trust and reliability.
Day after day, regardless of whether a potential customer is seeking to make a purchase, ethical salespeople are always ready and willing to help customers tackle their problems and lend a helping hand however possible.
Being a consistent, reliable, and always-helpful presence is how truly fruitful sales relationships are cultivated and maintained for years, turning satisfied customers into devoted advocates for your product or service.
- Your sales team always gives honest and knowledgeable insight to customers.
When customers ask for insight into your product or service’s capabilities, it can be tempting to for salespeople to embellish the facts in order to secure the contract or finalize a sale.
However, over time, the truth eventually does find its way to the customer, and if your sales team has exaggerated the claims of your product, you will find yourself with a customer base that is deeply dissatisfied and distrusting of anything your company has to offer now or in the future.
Simply being knowledgeable and honest about what your product or service can and cannot do is the key to securing loyal, satisfied customers who trust your company and want to recommend it to others.
- Your sales team holds themselves accountable for problems.
When tempers flare over a missed shipment or a faulty piece of equipment, it’s easy and tempting to want to point the finger elsewhere.
While offering an excuse might diffuse some of the tension in the moment, and though it might feel like an innocent white lie, should the truth ever make its way to the customer as it often does the customer’s trust in your company is permanently damaged.
Accepting responsibility for when things go wrong, providing a truthful explanation of what went wrong, and putting in motion a plan of action to correct the mistake speaks volumes to your customers about your credibility and trustworthiness.
- Your sales team provides customers with prompt and helpful follow-up.
Whether one of your salespeople checks in with a prospective customer to set a meeting date or they are following up with after a successful sale, prompt follow-up with a customer communicates to them that you sales rep is truly invested in their success and the level of satisfaction they have with your product or service.
- Your sales team provides fair comparisons between your company and its competitors.
Throughout any salesperson’s career, they will naturally encounter the “Why should I choose you rather than your competitor?” question.
While it’s vital that you and your sales team believe in the products you sell, when comparisons arise, your salespeople shouldn’t seek to slander or belittle your competitors.
When those questions are encountered, simply give an honest assessment of your competitor’s offerings. Your salesperson’s honesty, product knowledge, reliability, and true understanding of the customer’s needs and expectations are what form the foundations of sales success not the slander of your competition.
There Are Eight Principles of Ethical Marketing
The common standard of truth will be observed in all forms of marketing communication.
Personal ethics will guide the actions of marketing professionals.
Advertising is set apart from entertainment and news and the line is clear.
Marketers will be transparent about who is paid to endorse their products.
Consumers will be treated fairly, depending on who the consumer is and what the product is.
Consumer privacy will be respected and upheld at all times.
Marketers will comply with standards and regulations set by professional organizations and the government
Ethics should be discussed in all marketing decisions in an open and honest way.
Ethical marketing, for all its positivity, has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages. To make the situation even more complicated, unethical marketing is usually pretty effective. Add to that the fact that unethical behavior is not necessarily illegal behavior and it isn’t hard to see why more companies use unethical marketing, rather than the ethical alternative.
Take the case of diet pills, for example many people buy them, even though they are hardly ever effective. Why is this so? Because companies that sell diet pills exaggerate their claims and manipulate customers into buying them. If such companies advertised their products in an ethical way, they wouldn’t last very long. While their business model might make you angry, however, it’s not illegal and so they continue to sell.
If you’re looking to build a positive brand image and develop good relationships with your customers, such unethical marketing practices can lead to your downfall. Customers do not like brands that manipulate them. In order to develop trust among your customers, therefore, you should consider using ethical marketing. If your product lives up to the claims you make when you advertise it, then it will reflect positively on your whole company. The consumer will feel like you care about the value you provide them.
Of course, we can’t say that any company is completely ethical or completely unethical. Ethics is quite often neither black nor white but a sea of varying shades of gray. The boundaries shift and what is ethical today may not be ethical tomorrow. Moreover, many companies that are ethical in one part of their marketing campaign can be unethical in another, or they may be ethical in their advertising but unethical in their production processes, which is another subject altogether.
Again, consider the case of Dove soap. The company ran an ad that featured supposedly real models. The point was to encourage girls to love their bodies just as they were and not feel pressured to live up to a supermodel ideal. The problem is that ads by Dove soap before that ad, as well as ads since that ad, have focused on the same stereotypes of beauty that were being shunned then. This shows just how hard it is to always be ethical. Any company that claims to be ethical in their sales and marketing will have to make it a part of all of their advertising, not just do it once and brand themselves ethical.