Sales is a naturally competitive domain and therefore attracts people who are results-oriented. Friendly competitiveness is generally encouraged as it increases motivation and drives productivity. However, when the goals are set too high, people might be tempted to engage in unethical sales practices. Such practices seemingly produce short term results but are not sustainable in the long run and are counterproductive to both the salesperson and the entire company.
Managers need to be aware of this dynamic and strive to create a competitive but fair environment within their sales teams. This is by no means an easy task but there are ways to keep people motivated and productive while following a code of ethics. This only works if the code of ethics is well defined and enforced.
Here are 6 ethical strategies that will increase your sales results and create long-lasting profitable relationships both within the company and with outside clients:
1. Define the company’s goals.
How do you get your employees to put customers’ needs above their own? Finding the answer to this question could increase ethical sales activities, but that is only seemingly so. This question is, in fact, irrelevant and the true question should be:
“How do you show your employees that their needs are interconnected with the needs of customers?”
As a manager, you need to set clear business goals and show how those goals are directly correlated to the happiness of your customers. You might be able to scam a customer into a bad deal, but as soon as he realizes that, he will cut his relationship with your company. A satisfied customer, on the other hand, will come back and continue using your product and in this way, provide long-lasting revenue for your business.
All goals need to be measurable in order to be effective. If a company sets customer satisfaction as a clear and measurable target, it will be easier to evaluate its efforts towards those goals.
2. Set up satisfaction-based rewards.
Salary and bonuses within the sales team are usually defined by the number of successfully closed deals. This drives your employees to produce results but gives no indication that those results need to be long-lasting. Setting a system which rewards sales employees for creating long-lasting client relationships can change the way they approach business interactions.
For example, you could pay out bonuses not only when a new client is brought on board but each time that client renews his contract. If the goals you set are well-defined, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, then setting up a reward system which incorporates those goals should be relatively straightforward. Employees need to be both morally and financially motivated towards the longevity of customer relationships and the best way to do that is by making it part of your company culture.
3. Outsourcing as an ethical solution.
Outsourcing is the process of hiring an outside company or individual to perform contracted work. Businesses use this method to reduce operational costs and oftentimes as a means of gaining an outside perspective on the task at hand.
There are certain ethical implications when it comes to outsourcing as certain people question its morality. The arguments are that companies should make local employment rates a priority rather than focus on cost-effective measures. However, the economic implications of outsourcing are far more complex than that. Establishing a free market where companies have more diverse options drives competitiveness and raises productivity.
A company might want to hire an outsourced sales team in order to lower operational costs and make it easier to continue operations. An argument can be made that local jobs would be lost without the option to hire more cost-effective outside help. Therefore, outsourcing is an excellent way to stimulate the local economy and create additional jobs, even if part of the company relies on outside help.
4. Lead by example.
Enforcing actions and attitudes only makes sense if you are following them as well. A leader needs to be a personal and professional example to other employees. But just acting the right way is not enough. You need to truly believe in the values that you represent and that you are willing to put on your business cards for everyone to see.
People have a natural way of differentiating between honest and disingenuous behavior and will only follow leaders who also act according to the moral standards they expect from others. Therefore, the best leaders are those that lead by example.
5. Organize coaching sessions for your sales team.
Many companies will put together a sales training to ensure that their employees are well-educated and skilled in their day to day sales activities. Sadly, ethical implications are most of the time not mentioned during such educational sessions even though they provide the right opportunity to educate the sales team on the best practices that are used for building long-lasting relationships.
A company should use every opportunity to promote its values and remind employees about the influence that those values have on the success of the company. One on one coaching sessions is also a good way to produce quick results among individual employees. Try to talk to them about the way they build trust with their clients and what the areas are where they feel like there is room for improvement. Work together with your employees to build a stronger and ethically conscious team.
6. Organize external seminars.
If you want to raise awareness about ethical strategies amongst your team, you could organize external seminars where you invite people from outside the company to participate. Have your employees prepare presentations where they teach others various skills that they learned about the sales business.
This will have multiple positive effects on your company. Firstly, it will get your sales team to interact with other people, making them more aware of their problems and desires. And secondly, it will promote your company as socially responsible and open to communication with the community.
Use the tips above to lay the foundation for a sales team that is more ethically aware. In time, you will notice the rise of trust-based customer relationships within your company. Such an approach will make dealing with customers easy and significantly increase sales results.
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