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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Integrity Selling: Honesty is the Best Policy

Integrity Selling: Honesty is the Best Policy

Who wants to deal with a salesperson?  Think about the descriptive terms that come immediately to mind: Pushy, slick, insincere, less-than-knowledgeable, less-than-honest, and so forth. It is often the used car salesman that bears the brunt of this dubious imagery.  It may be the first that comes to mind for most folks, but I’m afraid we all get painted with the same brush.
In fact, many professional salespeople feel that way (and, accurately), about most of their colleagues.   To go further, many of their uninformed and untrained colleagues take some pride in having this image. I personally know many of them and you probably do, too.
Unprofessional salespeople have themselves to thank for this reputation.  They have earned it. 
The good news for the rest of us is that by honing professional selling skills we have the opportunity to join the small inner-circle, the elite of sales professionals.  We, by internalizing concepts of integrity selling, can perform sales feats that stun the fly-by-night.
How do we do it? We continually perfect our skills and methods to the rarefied point that we can be honest with our prospects and customers. We can lead, rather than mislead. We sleep better, too.
Is this a quick fix?  Usually, but not always.  Remember, the snake-oil salesman has a few skills up his sleeves, too.  You are competing against him, in the eyes of your boss. His or her skills are those of fast talking, manipulation and slight-of-hand – sometimes impressive, all the same.  Our brand of selling – integrity selling – depends more on relationship building, which can take a little more time than the quick-sale artist will devote.
The perfect example of this exists in the car business.  It’s the so-called Super Sale.  This is where car dealers (usually cash-strapped) will engage an outside band of sales gypsies to overrun their dealership for a few days, popping off as many high-pressure sales as possible, then leaving town again like the low-rent circus that they truly are.  The bitter feelings of the dealership’s clientele left in the wake of this abomination notwithstanding, they do sell cars.  These folks have skills, just limited integrity, at best.  If you took the very same salespeople and actually put them permanently on the sales floor of a dealership, they would flounder and fail – unless they changed their ways.  The sales professional, complete with excellent product and industry knowledge and relationship-building skills would prevail every time.
The reasons for this are important and bear repeating: The sales professional knows their product to the nth degree, as well as that of their competition, and their industry so that they can present thoughtfully and intelligently. Therefore, they can be honest with their prospects and lead rather than mislead.  They will be so proficient at their job that they will easily be able to garner all-important referrals from their satisfied customers, too.  In time, the true selling professional will be able to rely on repeat and referral business almost exclusively. It’s easy to see why the charlatan cannot compete with one engaged in integrity selling, over the medium and long run.
There needs to be a note of caution, here.  Your sales management team will very likely know less about integrity selling than you do – if you study it. Sales management is almost always comprised of terminally average salespeople.  It is a different skill set. They may be fantastic managers, but they were generally not the company’s top-producers.  Let’s face it: the highest producing salespeople usually make more money than their managers. Also, companies are loath – and rightly so – to take their top producers off the sales team, for fairly obvious reasons.
In the final analysis, it is sustained volume that wins the day. Taking the time to perfect your professional skills will pay dividends well beyond your paycheck.  You will build lasting relationships with your customers and have a wonderful sense of self-respect, too.  Integrity selling is professional selling. Learn it. You will be glad you did.
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by Kevin Connell