Integrity is about more than simply being honest, though that is certainly part of it. Having integrity means having strong moral principles. This is crucial for anyone working in sales.
In the past, the perhaps unfair reputation of a sales rep was that they were a little slimy and maybe even underhanded; the type of people that would do and say anything to make a deal.
Today, those values wouldn’t get anyone very far in the highly visible and accountable world of social media and sales. What’s more, sales pros who truly have integrity are more successful in the long run because they don’t take short cuts or make questionable deals that come back to bite them. And most importantly, customers trust sales reps who have integrity- and we all know that a successful, long-term customer relationship is built upon trust.
We know we want our sales teams to have integrity but in the highly competitive, pressurized environment of sales, it’s easy for people to make mistakes. Here’s how to encourage integrity in your sales team and create a working environment that’s perfect for sales success.
Model the Behaviour You Want to See
The old saying goes, the fish rots from the head, and it’s often true that issues and problems in departments can be traced back to the leadership. If you want to encourage integrity in your sales team, you need to ensure you are modelling the behaviour you wish to see. Don’t just talk the talk; you must walk the walk. The key to integrity is consistency: it’s important that you always hold yourself accountable to a high moral standing. Be transparent, honest and fair. Don’t compromise your values - if you make a mistake, own up to it quickly, apologise and explain what you will do to rectify the situation.
Share Your Vision of Sales
Integrity shortcomings in sales teams often come down to a difference of opinion about what sales actually is. If a sales rep believes that sales is about solving problems and helping customers improve their lives in some way, then it’s likely that they’ll approach new opportunities with enthusiasm to improve a customer’s situation. If, on the other hand, they view sales more cynically as the art of selling people things they don’t really need… Well, it’s quite clear where that will lead… False promises and half-truths, or worse. Encourage integrity by asking people about what their vision of sales is during the interview process. Remind your sales team frequently about your vision of sales: that you are helping people find the solution they need to improve something about their life or business.
Believe In Your Product and Make Them Believe Too
If you don’t believe in what you are selling then selling with integrity is impossible. However, if you truly believe that your product or service solves a problem, then you have nothing to fear. Just like their vision of selling, your rep’s belief in your product can all too easily get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of trying to meet quotas. It’s your responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t happen. Regularly remind your team of why they are out there every day working hard - talk about how great your product is and why it’s needed. How is it helping people and making their lives easier/better? Start off team meetings by praising your product/service; share positive reviews and feedback from customers; draw your team’s attention to positive online mentions and press.
Reward Integrity Not Just Numbers
We know that reps are competitive and that’s a great thing. But too often, bonuses and commissions are only focused on hitting targets. This can be dangerous; it’s when a rep feels under too much pressure to meet targets that their ethics can become compromised. Of course, you want to drive sales and ensure your reps are meeting quota but don’t forget about rewarding those behaviours that demonstrate integrity. Try different reward types for reps who go above and beyond to help a customer or who secure a great deal because of their excellent customer relationship.
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