GrowTraffic is a digital marketing and SEO agency so you might be surprised that we spend a fair amount of time thinking about the question of ethics in sales techniques, however, we have to because the goal of much of the copy we create is geared towards converting customers. Understanding sales is essential for this process.
Sales are so important to businesses. Without making sales in one capacity or another a business will simply cease to exist. This is what motivates business owners, salespeople and marketers to ensure there is a steady stream of sales coming into a business. From time to time, this desire to keep a business going and the pressure individuals face can lead to unethical sales techniques being implemented in order to grow sales.
Whilst ethical sales techniques help to ensure a business continues to grow through the creation of long term relationships. Unethical sales techniques can be hugely detrimental to businesses. And I’ve worked in a number of businesses where the sales team and even business owners have blurred the boundary between ethical sales and unethical sales.
I’m not going to go into unethical sales techniques here because I don’t want to give them the light of day. Here is my list of ethical sales techniques you should be using, whether you’re a business owner, salesperson or a marketer, these points are fundamental to the way you communicate with customers:
Putting your pricing out there is something that all businesses can do to help their customers. It’s something we do at GrowTraffic when we start working with businesses. One of the first steps is to provide them with a price list that lets them know about what we’ll charge them for each service we provide.
Almost all of our pricing is based on our hourly rate (£60 per hour) but we don’t just say “it’s £60 per hour” we break that down for each of our different services. This means when our customers as for a blog to be written or a post to be added to Facebook they know exactly how much they’ll be charged. In addition, there is no temptation from our side to round up or down how much we charge.
We also don’t provide discounts for the amount of work a customer needs, this might work for some businesses, however, for a service business that bills out for time there is nothing to discount, it’s just time.
Genuine Data-based Comparisons
In order to close a sale, you may have to provide a comparison of your product or service with other comparable products or services. In order to sell a product ethically, you should be looking to provide an objective comparison between what your selling and what your competitors are. The product in this way sells itself. Online you might do this using a comparison table. And remember there’s nothing worse than hearing a salesperson badmouthing a competitor’s product, it never benefits the sales team.
At GrowTraffic we created our core values of honesty, integrity and transparency as a reaction to the SEO agency industry because there was a lot of SEO agencies who would take the money from their clients and the client would end up unsure about what service they’d had from their agency. We wanted to be really honest about what we would do and what we thought could be achieved for the client’s budget. This has been a hugely successful approach for us.
I’ve worked for businesses where the salespeople have promised the earth and then when the customer has had a negative experience or not had their expectations met it would fall in the lap of the customer service team to sort out. This simply creates short term relationships and medium to long term reputational damage. Honesty is the best way to deal with this.
Whether you are a business owner, salesperson and marketer, you have a role to play in creating and encouraging an ethical sales culture.
We’re all under pressure to perform and deliver. It’s important to remember when trying to convert a customer not to overstep the mark. Remember the old adage “Customer is King.” far too often we hear about advertising that has been pulled up by the Advertising Standards Authority for being misleading. Recently an ad by Deliveroo was deemed misleading because it seemed to imply that a customer could have delivers from multiple takeaway outlets in the same delivery, which wasn’t the case. This case also highlights how easy it is to act in a way that could be considered unethical despite probably having the best intentions.
False advertising and bate and switch techniques are more common in business to business scenarios. Bait and switch occurs when a customer first engages with a product or service only to be told that product is no longer available, but another similar product is available. Psychologically by the point of enquiry, it’s harder for the potential customer to go somewhere else.
Also, it’s important for marketers to remember that whilst we create loads of content that’s designed to entertain, educate and entice potential customers, at all times we are getting them into a buying funnel. Even when we create news or share comments on something happening in an industry. It’s very easy to become complacent and forget the marketing part of content marketing.
Good luck with your sales. Remember you don’t want to ruin your reputation and there’s a fine line between persuasion and manipulation in sales. Stay on the right side of it. You’ll feel better about yourself and your business, and you’ll build those long term relationships that will ensure the business soars long term.