What is Sales Ethics: definition and how to establish ethical behavior in sales teams
Considering sales is a naturally competitive environment, and the sales team is constantly evaluated using numbers and metrics, this segment is more vulnerable to the unethical mode of sales practices for quick wins. This, in turn, can affect the company’s operation and reputation.
As FTC claimed, 2020 had reported more than 2.2 million scams with an approximate financial loss of $3.3 billion. Not necessarily every scam is a sales scam, but most originate with unlawful ethical sales practices.
Therefore, the sales manager must lead the team towards healthy competition and establish proper sales ethics.
How to do this? We’ll talk about all the tricks in a bit. But first, let’s start with the term ‘sales ethics.’
What is sales ethics?
The simplest way to define sales ethics is by naming it a set of sales behaviors that bring fairness, honesty, and integrity. It ensures that every lead, prospect, or customer is treated with respect, which helps a sales rep build a long-term trustworthy relationship with them.
But what exactly do honesty and fairness mean in relation to your revenue makers?
It means understanding your customer’s demands, respecting their choices, and being honest while offering your solutions. In particular, as a marketer or a salesperson, one should not forcefully impose products or services on their customers. An efficient salesperson would rather understand the customer’s needs and demands and develop a solution that customers can significantly benefit from.
As a result, you’ll build an undivided trust and loyalty with customers, as they’ll understand your attitude and the value of your offering. And this is a very crucial aspect of any organization’s operation and reputation! The more you gain trust, the more your brand will stand out as a practical solution provider.
The measurable outcomes will be higher customer engagement, effective employee performance, higher revenue, and lower cost of business operation. Who doesn’t want that? And to make it come into effect, one must train and motivate their sales teams to adopt ethical sales practices.
Now let’s find out how to establish ethical behavior for your sales team.
How to incorporate an ethical culture in your sales team?
Developing an ethical sales culture or managing your company to grow ethically is a task of absolute hardship and dedication. It needs to be implemented from every facet of the organization. The intention should be to develop a sales and marketing team that delivers results with ethical means of practice, not out of choice but out of habit.
So how to instill such ethical behavior habits in your team? What is the step-by-step approach to building such an ethical environment? We’ll discuss five ways you can do it.
1. Hire the right salesperson
It all starts with hiring the right sales rep for your company. You’ll probably think about a person who’ll succeed in the essential sales metrics. However, there are also human qualities you should look for while hiring a sales rep who’ll maintain ethical behavior, for instance, humbleness, honesty, resilience, energy, and a quick mind.
Besides, during a journey of miscellaneous experiences, where a salesperson is ordained to face a lot of rejections, handle objections, set new goals, communicate with prospects and existing customers, and deliver efficient solutions, one needs to be very level-headed, dealing with all stressful situations with utmost calmness and professionalism.
Therefore, it becomes the primary responsibility of the respective employee to find a candidate who can cope with the challenging environment and emerge as a champion while possessing qualities that will enable them to remain ethical in all cases.
2. Develop ethical guidelines
Creating a space where employees can have a transparent conversation is crucial. Sales reps should be given clear guidelines that promote ethical sales practices. This enables them to operate efficiently and ethically amidst a lot of challenges.
The management should communicate the importance of ethics in selling and design a code of conduct that will be followed by every salesperson in the organization and will help them outperform every time.
A proper code of conduct for ethical sales practices should include several focused areas like:
- Company policies and values
- Ethical way of approaching customers
- The right way of communication
- The proper approach towards handling and resolving customer complaints
- Ethical practices and their benefits
- Unethical practices and their consequences
- Do’s and don’ts while converting new customers
3. Create a culture of ethical values
When we say creating a culture of ethical values, it’s time everyone in the team started implementing the code of ethical conduct sincerely. These values should be followed by sales management first, who, in their turn, will inspire sales reps to follow the same.
And that shouldn’t be just put on a paper in namesake. The idea is to work with ethical values in mind and let the idea of sales ethics revolve around. Set an example for others! This way, you’ll build a culture that everyone would die to follow. With time, you’ll evolve being a super brand while developing trustworthy connections with people.
And even though building an ethical sales culture needs a lot of effort, dedication, and time, if you adopt this culture and live by it, you’ll be able to set a benchmark and instill ethical values in your sales team.
4. Reward the right behavior
Another way to make ethical sales behavior a habit is to appreciate your people’s efforts in behaving ethically. Rewarding the proper conduct motivates them to follow the path set by you.
Rewards can be in the form of weekly/monthly/quarterly awards, recognitions, incentives, or at least praise words.
Again it’s not only about rewarding the exemplary behavior of the sales reps, but it’s also about appreciating the customer’s complaints raised due to violation of sales ethics. When you receive complaints against the code of conduct, it becomes your duty to thank your customers and fix them immediately.
5. Run regular training sessions
Last but not least, running regular coaching sessions that include performance tracking, rating, and other growth-related stuff is the inevitable part of establishing sales ethics in your team.
Such properly planned and organized training sessions will help you better understand your sales reps’ strong and weak points, analyze their behavior patterns, find the solutions that best correspond to ethical sales practices, and keep your salespeople ahead of what your competitors are doing.
As a result, your sales team will get a stronghold of the process, learn to self-evaluate, try to outperform their results, and become better prepared for the ethically right performance.
Make the best use of these sessions to answer questions like:
- Is your code of conduct clear and understandable?
- Are there any sales call use cases that we’ve missed out on?
- Do you need to modify the previous script, or does it still work?
- Are there any new ethical challenges coming up?
All these questions will help you strengthen your sales team on their way to better performance and ethical behavior.
Importance of ethics in sales management
The whole idea of introducing sales ethics in the sales team revolves around understanding its importance. Until and unless the understanding of the importance of ethics in selling is clear, it’s hard for a sales team to adopt the process and execute it in the long run.
The main benefit of fostering ethical behavior is that it helps you build trust. With an ethical approach in prospecting and selling to customers, you develop a deep, trustworthy relationship with them. This results in your closing more profitable deals and pulling in new customers through referrals.
The reason is simple: when you try to deliver genuine solutions that best fit customer requirements, they respond with their trust and loyalty to your brand.
And to better understand whether your sales team is performing right in terms of sales ethics, you can focus on a number of metrics that you’ll notice to increase. For instance:
- Increase in customer experience metrics
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Increase in customer referrals
- More deal closures
- Increase in sales
- More effective branding
The story’s moral is that sales ethics pulls you closer to your customers. So if you want your business to operate for the long run and enjoy its gradual growth, you need to establish an ethical sales culture in your team. The sooner you do that, the faster you’ll grow.
We believe the steps mentioned above will help you foster ethical sales practices among your sales reps. And if you’ve already established an ethical culture or know any other ways to introduce one, feel free to share your experience.