Lois and I recently spent a few lovely days with Shel Horowitz and his wife Dina Friedman at their home. Lois, my wife, had known Shel for many years but this was the first time we had the pleasure of spending time with them in person. While it was mostly a social visit we did talk about business. We all had the same philosophy to sell with integrity. Shel has written many marketing books. He gave me one co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson: “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green”. In chapter five they discuss “Sales the Right Way”.
What Is The Right Way To Sell?
Shel, Jay and I have similar views on the right way to sell. Focus on prospects with a high probability to win the work, pay attention to match your communication style to the prospect, ask good questions, practice active listening, and sell with integrity.
What Is Integrity?
My short answer is doing the right things the right way at the right time for the right reason. We have all heard the horror stories of arrogant sales people brow beating an order out of a customer. While that may win the arrogant sales person one order there is little hope for a long-term mutually beneficial relationship. Great salespeople sell with integrity and are rewarded with customers for life. All the initial effort it took to win the first order pays off over and over again with reorders. And all great salespeople know that follow on work is much easier to win than having to create a new customer.
How Do You Demonstrate Integrity?
I worked for the Shickel Corporation whose founder J.A. Shickel made this commitment when he started the business in 1938: “We will give you the best service we can as promptly as we can at a price fair to both of us.” The current owners, his grandsons, still instill this commitment into the culture of the company.
Prospects and customers see integrity in great salespeople when they demonstrate honesty – always telling the truth. Integrity is evident when great salespeople turn down opportunities because it is not the right fit for their product or services, when the delivery time can’t be met, when the quality required is less or greater than their capability or when the opportunity doesn’t fit their value system.
How Can You Sell Within Your Value System?
Many of my close relatives were cigarette smokers and as a consequence died of smoking related disease. I refuse to do business with companies manufacturing cigarettes. But one day I received a call from a large tobacco company needing a specialized conveyor system. I politely explained my personal objection to doing business with a tobacco company. Then the prospect explained the conveyor system would not be used in the production of tobacco products. The company was receiving personal threats of bombings and poisonings. To protect the employees they were building a receiving facility at a remote location from the corporate headquarters. The conveyor system would be used to safely transport all packages and mail from the receiving dock through X-ray machines and into a sealed mail sorting area. Since the application was designed to prevent injury, I took on the project. Great salespeople maintain a strong code of ethics and when confronted with an ethical choice stay strong to their values.
What You Can Do Right Now
- Write your own code of ethics
- List your criteria for refusing business
- Review your selling process to be sure you sell with integrity
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Six, Characteristics of Successful Salespeople, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.