In today’s world, consumers are demanding more from business. They are often spoiled for choice in a saturated market, making their buying criteria ever more stringent.
It is no longer enough to rely on old, tried-and-tested sales techniques while your competitors are out there forging relationships and building trust with clients using new, innovative methods. By moving with the flow of customer preferences, they are taking responsibility for winning sales and retaining business.
One of the most noticeable trends in consumer demand in recent years has been the rise in ethical considerations when choosing a product or service. Awareness of issues such as climate change, fair trade and sustainability has led to more probing questions about a business’s environmental and social responsibilities – and impressive responses can directly lead to better sales and an enhanced corporate reputation.
Of course, business ethics is not a new concept – many companies have adhered to a code of ethics for many years. Common examples include the adoption of corporate codes of conduct, labour laws, equality practices and policies that incentivise employees to maintain respectful client relationships.
But these days, people are looking for businesses to actively stride towards golden ethical standards. Examples of the dangers of unethical selling are everywhere – just look at how the irresponsible selling of sub-prime mortgages contributed towards the current global financial crisis, or how controversies over Nike’s use of sweatshop labour caused global damage to the brand and sales.
Here are our 4 top tips to help you increase your sales while boosting your brand’s ethical image:
1. Respect the customer – When selling, make the most of your customer-facing role to become the personable and likeable face of the brand you represent. Going that extra mile will demonstrate commitment, while actively listening to their individual concerns will help you tailor your product or service to their needs.
2. Act with integrity – Ethics in marketing your product is paramount for the short and long term success of your business. Remember, nobody wants to hear promises that you can’t keep and – if you do promise more than you can deliver – the customer will find out sooner or later. This will do your reputation no favours. Be realistic and honest with your clients, and trust in your abilities as a sales person to put a positive spin on anything.
3. Promote your ethical efforts – When delivering your sales pitch, use your knowledge of the product’s ethical features or your company’s ethical activities to your advantage. Is the product energy efficient? Is your company involved in community projects? All this information can be used to steer the negotiations away from just price because it appeals to both the client’s business and moral senses.
4. Be a team player – Supporting your colleagues and creating a motivated work environment can help build trust and communication. For your clients, this means a flawless service (even when staff are on leave) that keeps them informed with the most up-to-date information. Sharing sales techniques that have and haven’t worked with your colleagues, including the best ways to include ethical selling points, will lead to more efficient strategies and business success.
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase