As a Sales Trainer and Coach, I’ve been there, done it, got the battle scars, made the mistakes, shared the highs and lows and seen just about everything you can imagine it is possible to see in a sales environment.
And in all that time there has been one consistent element that separates the long term high performers from the shooting stars, and that is their ethical approach to sales.
Because in business, to be successful, you must do one thing, solve a genuine problem – and you can only solve a genuine problem by taking an ethical approach to selling.
So, what do I mean?
Taking an ethical approach isn’t about moralising, preaching, or applying ‘do gooder’ values into the sales process, it is about making sure that when a deal is done and a customer has signed on the dotted line, that you and the customer walk away feeling that you have solved a problem, have mutually benefitted and both received value from the transaction.
Sounds like the perfect outcome, and it is, so to help you out, here is 20+ years’ experience distilled into my top 5 tips:
1. Solve A Problem
To sell something, you need an individual/organisation that wants to solve a problem and to be able to solve that problem with your solution – it isn’t about selling what you have, it is about selling what they need to take away their point of pain.
2. Helpfulness is Key
Approach the sale with a mindset of helpfulness, it’s not about you and what you can get from the transaction, it is about what your customer needs, their situation and their pain point that you are hoping to assist them with.
3. Openness and Honesty
There is a reason that sales professionals, especially within some categories, give the industry a bad name and that reason is that customers do not feel they have been dealt with in an open and honest fashion.
Approach every potential sale with integrity and transparency, your customers will value you for it and you will get the best outcome for them and therefore for you.
4. It is Ok to say No.
It’s hard when there are targets to achieve, but in sales, it is OK to say no to a customer and not to sell them something.
It’s especially hard when there is clearly money on the table and a sale is there for the taking, but in the long term saying no can be a really valuable and profitable thing.
Sometimes the customers is in real need and wants the problem to go away, so they will accept any solution, but you may not be the best person to solve this problem – in this case tell the customer the truth, refer them to someone else, because if your service or product isn’t what they need, the pain doesn’t go away and you are left with a dissatisfied customer who still has the same challenges.
5. Money is Not the Driver
If money is your driver then you will quickly burn people and relationships.
In my career I have always loved the people and used the money, NOT loved the money and used the people.
If you take an ethical, helpful, open, honest and problem-solving approach to sales, you will value relationships and the money will follow.
Your Ethics Are Not For Sale
As a sales professional, your role is sales is to create an environment where an act of good faith can take place.
So never sell out your ethical approach to sales.
Being ethical, being fair and having mutually beneficial transactions results in long term success for any sales person and for their organisation. It helps drive repeat business, spread word of mouth recommendations and means that unlike the shooting stars, you don’t burn brightly and crash to earth, you have a long term, highly valuable customer base and career.