What impression do your salespeople make on customers? That you’re running a reputable business or that your company is a little shady? If your sales team is willing to say whatever it takes to land a sale, it could hurt your company’s good name. So don’t overlook sales when building an ethical business culture.
A strong ethical “tone at the top” is critical to any company’s reputation. If you clearly demonstrate your own commitment to honesty and integrity, through both words and behavior, your sales team will get the message. Customers will, too.
But you also need to anticipate the challenges your salespeople may face as they attempt to meet sales quotas. Some may be tempted to sell more than your company can deliver, for example — or to recommend a product they know isn’t the best solution for a customer’s problem. Those strategies may land the account, but they do nothing to build the trust and credibility your business needs to keep accounts over the long haul.
Build lasting relationships
Require salespeople to be clear about what every sale includes and what it doesn’t, so that there’s no misunderstanding with customers. Reiterate that their job isn’t simply to make sales, but to build lasting customer relationships. You may want to reinforce that message by rewarding sales staff for customer satisfaction and repeat business, in addition to meeting sales revenue quotas.
When necessary, salespeople need to be prepared to tell customers that one (or even all) of your products won’t meet their needs. If a customer asks about a feature your product doesn’t have, your sales reps shouldn’t try to imply that it does. Instead, they should work with the customer to determine whether the desired feature is really necessary and emphasize your product’s other features and benefits. Ultimately, however, they must be honest about limitations.
This doesn’t mean that your sales force needs to steer customers to the competitor. But they shouldn’t disparage the competition, either.
You can help ensure your sales department is operating ethically by emphasizing that professional integrity is a big part of your definition of success. Contact us for more tips on ethics and fraud prevention.