Sales ethics: How to sell effectively while doing the right thing.
In this essay I will describe the main principles for ethical sales from the book Sales Ethics: How to sell effectively while doing the right thing, and compare it to my own thoughts and experiences.
The preface of the book I chose is a description of a woman, working as a sales director in an ambitious organization. She describes the process behind the revelation she had to change the course of her professional approach, and how it freed her from a future of professional mental and moral distress.
“I had convinced myself that it was both right and “inevitable” to act according to the demands of the market. So I forced myself to follow the rules of a world I disapproved of deep down, certain that there was no way I could express my real style or give voice to my values. I was not yet aware that my own input could help change the rules of the game.”
The authors focus in the book is solely on the relationship of the salesperson and the customer, but I find parallels to what I´ve seen and experienced, and mental wellbeing as result of a value driven environment is one of my pet causes. Also sales involve an exchange between people, and if we consider the word sell, we will realize that it implies the giving of something to someone in exchange for something else in order to obtain or increase wellbeing.
Doing business is often linked to the idea of creating individual advantage by pursuing opportunistic behavior at the expense of the customer. This creates a conflict of interest between the customer and the salesperson. The authors of the book argue that this attitude of individualistic and materialistic behavior is a hindrance to profitability and I wholeheartedly agree.
With that in mind, the book describes four principles of Sales Ethics that are meant to guide negotiations and operational decisions:
1. The efficiency of the action: Giving customers what they really need while making the best use of resources and time, ensuring mutual satisfaction, seller and customer value.
2. Customer value: In any negotiation it is essential to identify the customers main object and work towards creating value for him or her. It is necessary to understand and accept your customer because the way we relate to others contributes to creating value.
3. Seller value: If we fail to ensure our own wellbeing we cannot build value to others, and you cannot build value if you are acting while being burdened by a conflict between objectives and individual interests. You must enjoy what you do.
4. Principle of the salespersons ethical responsibility: Relationships are complex and any action we undertake or even if we choose not to act will have consequences. We can do much to increase or decrease the value of an exchange in terms of wellbeing. The way we communicate and interact with a customer is a key element in either creating or destroying value for both actors in the seller customer relationship.
The authors Alessandri and Aleo present many exercises, tools and techniques for the readers to use in their professional life, but the four principles presented could be seen as a theory behind the following attributes I’ve noticed exceptional sales people possess: prudency, empathy, self-respect and conscientiousness.