Sales integrity is an undervalued but ultimately essential skill. Buyers need to trust salespeople. Especially now. When everyone is scrambling to hit targets, buyers could be inclined to be more wary and cautious.
As a profession, sales has a bad reputation. Trust is seen as a commodity in short supply.
Even in B2B sales, the image of a sleazy salesperson, or the used car salesman, is a hard one to get over. It often takes time for salespeople to earn the trust of prospects. Hence the value of sales integrity.
Buyers are more likely to go ahead with a purchase when they trust the person selling the product or service. Integrity is crucial. It helps take high-performance salespeople to the next level. In this article, we look at how salespeople achieve the level of integrity they need to succeed, especially in more challenging economic times.
How to achieve sales integrity
#1: Believe in your product/service and company
How can you sell something if you don’t believe it has value?
Selling is the art of transferring that sense of value from one person to another. Your prospect has to believe in something enough to want to put a budget into it. Surely, that’s easier to achieve when you care about a product or service.
If on the other hand, you don’t think it has value, then your whole approach is going to be hollow. Most buyers are going to see through that. Hitting a target is always going to be more challenging when you don’t believe in the product or service, or company you work for. Internal problems can often manifest externally.
When companies are struggling with internal challenges, such as service delivery or aspects of a product that don’t work, this can come across on sales calls. Confidence in the product/service and company is an essential component of sales integrity.
In many ways, confidence is the foundation stone of how you sell with integrity. So make sure your sales team knows what they’re selling, what it does, and how it creates value for clients.
As Forrester notes: “Today’s B2B buyers don’t want persuasion. With ready access to much of the information they need to make purchase decisions, they expect transparency, expediency, and partnership.”
#2: Be respectful of competitors
Most salespeople are fairly professional, the majority of the time.
Even if competitors are known for having a bad reputation, or if a client or prospect had a negative experience with a competitor, bad-mouthing them can be damaging. Don’t take the approach of a teenager at school.
Being respectful and appreciative of your competitors products/services and place in the market is more effective than criticising them. This means understanding the competitive landscape. Having a clear, accurate, and up-to-date knowledge of the landscape makes it easier to compete.
Instead of downplaying any competitor merits and pitching your product/service as the best (unless it unequivocally is, and you can prove it), clearly demonstrate how this is the solution your prospect needs. Doing that without bad-mouthing a competitor is the most effective way to win a sale, while maintaining integrity that a client will appreciate.
#3: Appreciate a prospects time
Another key aspect of sales integrity is an appreciation of a prospect’s time.
Even if you aren’t meeting face-to-face, sales video calls still take time. Whether you do this using screen-sharing or an Instant Demo, a prospect is still taking working time to speak with you. Thank them for taking the time. Be mindful of other priorities and responsibilities. Don’t push too hard for the sale.
Sales integrity is often measured on the sincerity of your commitment to the customer. What you want is the customer to say yes. To spend money. But the only way you’re going to do that is by ensuring what you’re selling is what they need. Be honest with them. If it isn’t, then it’s not likely they’ll benefit from it (that’s what the qualification process is meant to uncover), and therefore a customer is unlikely to spend more or refer other clients your way.
When you sell, aim to sell with long-term value in mind. Long-term value and benefits for your company, for you as a salesperson (e.g. when it comes to earning commission), and the customer. Hence the benefit of being mindful of a customer’s time and commitment to the sales process.
#4: Remain honest, and compromise carefully
Honesty is telling the truth.
Integrity is staying consistent within that truth.
It also means adapting to what a prospect needs. Say for example, a prospect’s budget has been cut 50%. They want to go ahead. But due to Covid-19 related impacts on revenue and therefore budgets, they don’t have as much to spend as they did.
In those circumstances, can you realistically promise to achieve the same with only 50% of the resources?
No, not even to secure the sale. If that’s not possible, you should manage expectations accordingly. If they still want to go ahead, which they should, providing they’re being reasonable, then you’ve acted with integrity and won the business.
Now more than ever: Act with integrity
As a salesperson, you help shape how your company is perceived. When you act with integrity and only sell what clients know they’re going to need, the result will be happy long-term customers. Whereas selling without integrity could create a customer base that’s not happy with what’s being delivered. Happy customers stay and spend more. Unhappy ones are more likely to vanish.
Selling with integrity is far better, for the long-term stability of a business. It also means salespeople give themselves peace of mind, knowing they’ve done the right thing for clients, the company they work for, and themselves.