During a conversation this past week with a sales rep, the importance of following ethical practices came up. It has become very difficult in many industries to have face-to-face timewith the real decision makers, which is causing sales people to be in a quandary. Many are wondering what the fine line is between “creative selling” and simply being unethical.
To make a sale, it has become customary to take clients out for lavish dinners, shows, sports events and trips. Sometimes personalized gifts are sent hoping they will buy a company’s latest products. Showing up unannounced and wiggling your way is another popular strategy. Of course there is the “first free consult” to get a potential customer curious to sign up for your services.
What would you say to some of these tactics?
- Adding someone to your email list without having them subscribe
- Researching where an individual spends their time after work and then showing up
- Calling a prospect and pretending to be someone else
- Offering products or services which a client clearly doesn’t need or want
- Quoting a lower price for your product or service and then changing it last minute
I am sure each of us can make a long list of sales techniques that we have either been a victim of or seen in our workplaces. And that’s the point. We can spot an unethical and insincere pitch a mile away and so can our current and potential customers. So is it really critical that we use ethical practices?
Five reasons why being an ethical leader matters:
1. Being Ethical Impacts Our Credibility
When leaders use their core values to drive their actions, decisions and goals they are clearly understood and authentic. If we behave in an ethical manner we are showing our colleagues and customers that we will always try to do what’s best for them because we care. A leader’s credibility is everything and that means they need to be honest and follow through with what they promise others.
2. Ethical Leaders Will Grow Loyal Customers
Ethical leaders know the difference between a passionate pitch about their products and services and being deceitful about what they can deliver. As a result of the honest relationships ethical leaders develop with their customers, there can be an easy exchange of ideas and advice. To achieve their customer loyalty, ethical leaders:
- Share the truth about their products and services, avoiding exaggeration
- Listen carefully to the real needs of their clients
- Communicate respectfully and clearly
- Validate customer concerns-never belittling their fears
- Create meaningful partnerships to solve problems together
3. To Be Influential We Need To Be Ethical
Whether we want to explain a new service to a potential client or persuade a team member to try a new approach we are selling. And to make that sale we need to be influential, allowing others to see our moral compass. Convincing others to buy our ideas begins with their belief that we can help them and that we always have their best interest at heart.
4. Ethical Leaders Cultivate High Performing Ethical Workplaces
To create high performing teams, ethics must be part of every assignment and decision. To make that happen each team member must feel empowered to lead from wherever they are by sharing their valuable ideas. Ethical workplaces consist of:
- Diverse and inclusive teams
- Open-minded leaders willing to explore unfamiliar roads
- Team members speaking out when processes are broken and need to be fixed
- Mistakes and missteps are able to be shared and discussed
- Honest interactions
5. When We Lead With An Ethical Vision We Sprout Ethical Future Leaders
The ultimate goal of ethical leaders is to not only serve customers with integrity but also grow future ethical leaders. Think how many loyal customers will continue with you if they know that ethical leaders exist at every level in every function of your organization. A company’s reputation is built on ethical leadership.
How has ethical leadership helped you and your organization grow?
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