A Sales Approach You Can Live With

If you’re aiming to get the sale no matter what, someone or something’s going to get hurt in the process. Don’t be surprised if it’s your reputation.
Let’s say you manage a sales team. Do you know how ethical your salespeople are when they represent your products and services, let alone your company?
If you are a salesperson, have you ever taken a long, hard look at how ethical you are when
you sell?
If I’m honest with myself, when I look back over my years in sales, I know I haven’t been completely ethical during every sales presentation I’ve given. My particular weakness, especially when I was younger and working as a publisher’s sales representative, was hyperbole. I just couldn’t resist embroidering the truth a little, or sometimes 
a lot. I was enthusiastic, and got excited about what I was selling.
This tendency would sometimes result in seller’s, not buyer’s, remorse. I was like an evangelist preacher who touches a member of the congregation and they faint clear away. In my case, my customers would buy exorbitant quantities of books, and the next day I would realize what I had done and call to get them to reduce their order. My honesty, in the end, seemed to endear me to my customers, and they forgave me, but it took some years before I finally learned my lesson; even today, I have to catch myself when “Hyperbole Harry” rears his ugly head.
In the long-term, selling in an ethical manner makes economic sense, but too many salespeople never see past the short-term gains of manipulating the truth and their customers.
Take a look at the following statements; if you can’t affirm that they apply to you, your sales team, or your company, read on and see why creating an Ethical Selling Charter would be a wise addition to your current sales strategy.
{advertisement} • My company has clearly laid out guidelines for all sales staff regarding how honestly our product or service should be represented.

• I (or my sales team) always openly and honestly represent the features, advantages, and benefits of our product or service, as well as any downsides.

• I (or my sales team) encourage objections, deal with them honestly, and never avoid or skirt
around them.

• I (or my sales team) turn away sales when we know that what we have to offer is not the best option for our customer, or we know that one of our competitors has a better fit for the customer.

• I (or my sales team) always act in the best interests of the customer, no matter what.
But why do salespeople lie in the first place? For many, it’s a means to an end: get the sale at any cost, regardless of who gets hurt along the way. Others lie because they don’t know the truth; their lack of product knowledge means that they have to make up things on the fly to answer their customer’s questions, or overcome their objections. This lack of product awareness can be the fault of the company due to a lack of training, or pure laziness on the part of the salesperson.
Panic is another reason people lie to customers — they are so afraid of rejection they will say or do anything to close the sale; consequences will be dealt with later, or not at all. In some cases, unethical behaviour is ingrained in the philosophy of the company and structured into the sales processes staff are told to follow. I have friends who worked for certain car dealerships (who will remain nameless) but couldn’t handle the manipulative way they were told to deal with customers. There’s a well-worn anecdote that tells of Jim Pattison, during his early days running a car dealership, firing the worst- performing salesperson at the end of each month. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant, as I suspect similar methods are used by some companies today and I can certainly imagine an honest salesperson resorting to less than ethical methods to stay off the bottom of the sales ladder.
Finally, and far less insidious, is the fact 
that some salespeople just get carried away 
and don’t even realize they are saying things which aren’t true, and making promises they can’t keep.
In reality, there are two types of salespeople: the first treats selling as a job; the second treats it as a profession. The former is trying to make a fast buck, while the latter is building a reputation and a customer base that will, in the long run, act like a pension by ensuring regular, repeat sales.
Selling ethically means following set standards of professional conduct. These can be in the form of an Ethical Selling Charter that you can develop for your company, or even for you as an individual. Sales and Marketing Executives International (see www.smevictoria.com) publishes a sales and marketing creed that provides an excellent start.
When you sell ethically, you approach all interactions with existing and potential customers from the perspective of what you can do to help them, not what you need to do to get the sale. Think of selling as a collaboration in which you and the customer are on the same team, working toward a common goal. Listen to what they need and want, be empathetic, and arrive at a solution that provides them with something that answers their needs, at a price that provides you and your company with a reasonable profit. Above all, be open and honest with them and they will be open and honest with you. Remember: getting the sale is the start of the relationship, not the end.
Selling in an ethical manner works for a bunch of reasons. When you sell with honesty as your foundation, you don’t have to remember the lies you’ve told. Everyone gets the same story, the same facts, and the same treatment.
Honest and open relationships mean that any and all objections can be aired without fear on either side, and this means they can be dealt with effectively, which in turn leads to more sales.
Ethical selling is about building long-term, meaningful relationships with customers. It’s about becoming a trusted adviser, a solution provider, someone they can open up to without fear of being taken advantage of. It’s about being selfless.
As a reward, ethical selling means saying goodbye to seller’s remorse and hello to a good night’s sleep.