Archive for the ‘Business Ethics’ Category

The importance of selling with integrity cannot be overstated. Ethical sales practices are the foundation of a solid, sustainable business. Let's explore why being one of the "good guys" in sales is so important.

Deciding to sell ethically benefits not only your own career, but also has a positive impact on the people around you. Here are three reasons to present your products honestly:

1) Being known as someone ethical by your customers will benefit your future success.

In sales, we live or die by word-of-mouth. Your customers are much more likely to refer others to you if they know you're consistently trustworthy. They will also reward you with repeat business that builds a sustainable income. This single principle is the cornerstone of a solidly-built business.

2) Your success will have a ripple effect on the people around you.

As business owners, our own success filters down to the people we employ, as well as to our families and our vendors. Building a business with a solid reputation means good things for them, too. Simply by deciding to always sell with integrity, we can build a business that improves the lives of many other people.

3) Your integrity fills the vacuum that might otherwise be filled with unethical sales professionals.

Let's face it €”without sales professionals committed to integrity, there's a real vacuum in the marketplace. That vacuum is quickly filled by people without ethical standards.

The decision you have made, then, to be clear and honest while selling your products also benefits your clients in this way. You are giving them the privilege of buying what they need from someone who will treat them fairly.

Think about these three principles as you move forward in building your business. The people who need what you have to offer also need someone to treat them with respect and honesty. Your future customers are depending on you to fill the integrity vacuum.

If you have not already done so, make a conscious decision now to always offer your products with integrity. Even when moving forward becomes a push, hold to your high standards and new business will come your way. The benefit you, your customers and those connected to you will gain will make the effort worthwhile.

One day, while at the gym, I made eye contact with someone else who was also working out.   A little while later, as I was working on my resistance exercises, he came towards me shaking his head. €˜No, not like that, let me show you.' he said.
From one look at his physique, it was clear that he had been spending a lot more time in the gym than I have over the past few years, so I was willing to take his advice. After he corrected my technique, I could instantly feel the difference. The way I had been doing it before was totally ineffective, and I was possibly even risking injuring myself.
€˜How long will you be in the gym?' he asked me. €˜Probably about another 30 minutes.' €˜OK I'll come and show you some other exercises a bit later.' He said. Then he left me to it, and got back to his own routine.
At this point I was thinking, wow, I'm so grateful he came over. It takes courage and confidence to walk up to a complete stranger and tell them they're doing something wrong. I was also slightly surprised by my reaction to him. I'm a bit sensitive on the subject of my body, and it occurred to me that I could have easily reacted defensively, but there was something very disarming in his approach. From the outset his genuine and sincere desire to help was so obvious he completely bypassed any defensiveness I might have had towards him.
I also thought, I wonder if he's a personal trainer. It would be great to have someone like that helping me with my workout.
As good as his word, he returned a bit later on. €˜What's your name?' he asked. €˜Bernie' I replied. €˜What's yours?' €˜Famous' he replied. I'm not kidding, and neither was he. His name really is Famous.
Now a name like €˜Famous' isn't one that you forget easily, and I realised I had seen his name on the class timetable. €˜Oh, you teach Tae-Bo here don't you?'
So he showed me another exercise or two, and as he did he asked me a couple of questions. €˜How long have you been coming here?' he asked.

€˜Not long' I replied. He said, €˜The most important thing is to stick with it. Rome wasn't built in a day.'
And then once again, he left me to it.
Now more than the dialogue, what I most want to convey to you is how I was feeling during these exchanges. At this point I was feeling grateful, inspired, motivated, encouraged, and best of all I was really enjoying my workout.
Famous' enthusiasm had rubbed off on me, and I wanted more! €˜When do you teach your Tae-Bo classes?' I asked him as I moved onto the treadmill. He told me the times, and I said, €˜OK, I'll be there on Wednesday.'
During the next 20 minutes on the treadmill, I realised that Famous was naturally doing what all €˜Client Magnets' do.
I doubt that he had marketing on his mind as he came to the gym to do his own workout. It's unlikely that he had a goal to recruit a certain number of people for his class. And yet just by being himself, and sharing his knowledge and expertise with someone who needed it, he did indeed recruit a new member for his class.
Now, some people may say that this is just a trivial story about aerobics classes, and might wonder why I am spending so much time on it.

What's it got to do with business?
Answer: everything.
My point is this. Every day you have hundreds of opportunities to see this type of magnetism at work. Do you notice them? Do you learn from them? You are surrounded by people who are attracting clients this naturally, with this degree of ease and effortlessness. Start to pay attention and see what lessons you can draw from the examples that surround you.
And in the meantime, I've drawn some lessons from this Famous example that we can all learn from. So, in a nutshell, I give you €˜The Famous Way to Becoming A Client Magnet'.

1. Spot a need. He saw me making a mistake and was willing to help me correct it. He isn't standing in the local shopping centre accosting passers by and saying, let me show you some press ups! The fact that I was in the gym indicated both my need and my want.
2. Have confidence and belief in the value you can provide. He didn't agonise over whether to approach me or not. His lack of self-consciousness totally disarmed me. He knew that I would benefit from him correcting my mistakes, which transmitted to me as confidence rather than arrogance.
3. Be the example of what you are offering. I could tell just by looking at him, and also watching him doing his own routine that he knew what he was talking about, and therefore I was willing to accept his advice.
4. Share your expertise in a way that adds value to the people who need it. He showed me a couple of techniques, but more than that he inspired me, encouraged me and uplif ted me. His belief in my potential was very compelling.
5. Give freely, with no expectation of return. His body language and timing communicated that he wan ted nothing from me in return. He was just happy to share his expertise.
6. Have no attachment to results. I doubt that he had marketing on his mind as he came to the gym to do his own workout. It's unlikely that he had a goal to recruit a certain number of people for his class. If I had sensed that was his motive, I would have been less receptive.
7. Make a series of short, low key contacts, adding value each time. When he did approach me, he showed me one thing and moved on. I was glad he €˜gave me my space'. If he had hi-jacked my whole workout, then I would have been resistant.
8. Let people €˜sample' YOU. Through our interactions, I'd also had a chance to sample something that couldn't possibly be conveyed on a brochure or flyer. He was inspiring and motivating and most of all he believes in my potential. That's the real reason I'm going to his class. The fact that he's teaching Tae-Bo is secondary.
9. Let the buyer progress through the buying process in their own time. He didn't ask me to come to his class, I asked him about the class. If I hadn't recognised his name from the class timetable, I almost certainly would have asked him about personal training.
10. Don't force or manipulate the process. I at any stage I had sensed that he had an agenda, my barriers would have come up. What I really sensed from him was his desire for me to succeed.
11. Be available. He was getting on with his own workout, yet I saw him help a number of people. He was available to answer my questions about his classes when I asked.
12. Have a €˜next step' for the buyer to take, for their sake and yours. He has a class that I can attend. It would be a shame if he was just a €˜gym-angel' who helps people and then disappears! That would be disappointing for everyone. Notice how I wanted more!
13. Package your services into a tangible form that is easy to buy. Have a clear offer. It was easy for me to make a decision about coming to his class. I knew the times, the price and what I'd be getting in return for my fee.
14. Commit to your clients. As I was saying good-bye he said, €˜OK I'm going to hold you to that. If I don't see you in my class on Wednesday, I'll be asking you about it next time I see you in the gym.' Did I feel pressured? No. I was delighted!
15. Enjoy yourself! This guy was just having a good time in the gym.
16. And know that you are most irresistible when you are just being yourself. Famous was just doing his thing, and doing what came naturally. He wasn't thinking about marketing and selling at all!

It's the big question. Should you offer a guarantee? The marketing gurus will assure you that guarantees increase customer confidence and therefore sales, but many of the small business owners I talk to are concerned about the potential costs of refunds, and attracting unscrupulous customers who will receive the goods or service but then take advantage of the refund option. So what should you do?

In my opinion, there is no contest here. After over 11 years of being in business, I believe that guarantees are essential, for the following 3 reasons.

1. It's A Question of Business Ethics…

While there certainly are dishonest people who will take advantage of your guarantees, the majority of people, in my experience, are good and decent and have genuine reasons for requesting refunds. Think about it, wouldn't you rather those customers were talking to YOU, giving you suggestions to improve your product and service, than running around all over town bad-mouthing you? It's been shown over and over, that a complaining customer who gets their problem resolved, is actually MORE loyal than a customer who never had a problem in the first place. So just from the point of customer relationship, you MUST offer a guarantee.

2. The Extra Sales You Generate Far Outweigh The % Of Returns

Many business fortunes have been built (and resurrected) on the strength of guarantees. Lee Iacocca turned around Chrysler when he said €˜If you want to know who builds them better, take a look at who guarantees them longer.' I know what you're thinking. That's a big car company and has no relevance to you as a small business owner? Not so. Whatever business you are in, offering a big, bold guarantee inspires confidence.
A guarantee is your way of saying to your customers, €˜I'll take the risk'. For a hesitant prospect, the guarantee can be the deciding factor that finally nudges them into action. I know you might be concerned about people €˜taking advantage', and the truth is, there are a couple of low-lives out there who will. But ultimately the extra sales you will make will far outweigh the number of returns (genuine or not).

3. If YOU Can't Stand Behind Your Product Or Service, Then Who Can?

If you are selling a product or service that you cannot strongly and fairly guarantee, then maybe you should find something better to sell. Even if you are in a situation where results are dependent upon the client, you can find something to guarantee eg €˜If you complete all the assignments, turn up to all the sessions and STILL don't get the promised results, then it's free.'
Even if you are selling something where the results CANNOT be easily predicted because there are so many variables, you can find SOMETHING to guarantee eg €˜you'll never be kept waiting more than 10 minutes for your appointment', €˜if at the end of the one hour session you don't feel like you've just had a weekend away, then it's free.'

The bottom line is guarantees WORK, and if you aren't using them in your business, you are almost certainly missing out on sales and opportunities, So what are you waiting for? Go guarantee something!

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