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How to identify the unethical sales person so you don’t become one

Ever wondered why some sales people never seem to fail at closing sales? No matter what they do, you only see them coming up smelling of roses? In my experience it usually means that they are likely to be showing the signs of an unethical sales person.

How do I know this?

The simple truth is that in sales you will fail to close, and you will fail a lot. Unless you have the must have, on trend product of the century (think the iPhone when first released), then you will rarely close every prospect you meet. That is if you adopt ethical sales tactics.

The only way to get round this challenge is to use unethical sales tactics to close every single one of your prospects into buying your solution. These are the sales techniques that “so called” sales professionals use to improve their closing ratios and cheat the prospect of a fair deal. Now if you are an ethical sales person then, you wouldn’t know any of these would you?

However, I bet you are curious to find out?

How to identify the unethical sales person

  1. You won’t provide details about your offer – Denying your client’s right to understand exactly what they will get when they buy from you, is like lighting the fuse of a ticking bomb. Even information relating to your terms of business, needs to be clearly laid out in your proposal. Your prospect simply has to know what is expected of them, especially when it comes to paying for your services. If you don’t ensure this kind of information is clear, then don’t be at all surprised if you don’t get paid on time.
  2. You call out your prospects – Until I entered the coaching world, I hadn’t heard of this one. Now I fully understand that existing customers do want to be challenged on their self-limiting beliefs. Many a time I have had to tell a client that they are quite wrong to make excuses about why they can’t do something. Confidence is normally the issue and it is common for a coach to call out their customer’s excuses. In the coaching world this approach is often referred to as calling out their BS (apologies, but this is a swear word and I simply won’t’ write it). However in my opinion, calling out a prospects excuses during the sales process is really unnecessary and downright rude. I have even heard coaches state that when the prospect says they can’t afford a package, they call their BS and say that they (the prospect) is using a lack of money as an excuse not to buy. For me when a prospect says that they are objecting in some way to my offer, I go through an ethical objection handling process to deal with that, which will never include telling a prospect that they are making excuses why they shouldn’t buy from me.
  3. You disrespect your customer’s time – Consistent tardiness is unacceptable and simply another sign of unethical behaviour. By the same token, taking up more time than you agreed with the prospect is also a big no, no. Dragging out the sales conversation longer than necessary is a sure sign that you are struggling to sell and why you obviously feel the need to adopt a tactic that wears down the prospect. Prospects have many genuine reasons why they might not make a decision there and then, so if you keep pushing and pushing the sale then you are clearly proving yourself as a non-ethical sales person.
  4. You talk over your prospect at every opportunity – Interrupting your prospect in mid flow is a risky strategy and I must admit I am no saint when it comes to the occasional lapse in good behaviour. I get so excited when I am selling that I frequently jump in before the prospect has finished. However, your prospect can easily tell the difference between enthusiasm and downright rudeness. Constantly interrupting will only show you up as an untrained and unethical sales person.
  5. Your unshakeable belief that you know better than your prospect what they really need – Only unethical sales people assume they know what their prospect needs better than their prospect does. Remember Aesop’s fable about the Hare and the Tortoise? The Hare assumed the tortoise would be so slow in the race, so when the long-eared bunny took a nap his slower competitor over took him to win. The same principal applies if you try to present and close your prospect before they agree your summary of their needs. Incorrectly completing the questioning step of the sales process can then lead to you coming across as pushy and often unethical in your approach to closing.
  6. You openly criticise the opposition – Ethical sales people never criticise the opposition. They have no need to. If you regularly share negative comments about your competitors, your prospect will very quickly lose any faith in your ability to be anything other than unethical.

    Unethical sales approaches

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  7. You lie to prospects to win the business – Lying to prospects is simply unethical and in many cases it can be criminal. So why do so many sales people feel the need to openly lie to their prospects? The fact is that they just aren’t good enough at selling ethically, to earn the big bucks . It saddens me that there are still so many self-proclaimed sales gurus in the marketplace who have, and still consistently advise sales people to lie to prospects to get them to buy. They don’t say that in their marketing, but having seen the training materials, I can assure you they do. Some have even publically been recognised as fraudsters, but seem to gloss over, or even glamorise the experience to generate further revenues from their adoring audience. However, what shocks me to the core is when a business not only knows the sales people take this approach, but does little to prevent them from doing so.
  8. You need stimulants to “Get going” – If you can make yourself believe that stimulants are necessary to help you sell big, then you are doing a great job of kidding yourself. Even copious amounts of coffee can change a mild mannered, effective sales person into a hyper sensitive unethical seller who will struggle to concentrate on anything other than their own selfish objectives. Selling successfully, but ethically is all I need to give me a buzz. Why not give it a go too?
  9. You implement a follow up strategy that alienates the prospect – The objective of a follow up is to ensure that the prospect has everything they need to make a decision in your favour. They might have been distracted by something else in their business, so the follow up is a gentle reminder that they need to take some kind of action. The follow up is not a relentless pursuit of the prospect until they tire and feel compelled to give you he business just to get rid of you. Hassling your prospect to give you the order is not only bad practice from a sales perspective, but a sign you are more bully than sales professional.
  10. Avoid responding to a client’s request for further information – When a prospect asks for more information they are seriously considering buying your product or service. Essentially it is one of the biggest buying signal’s you can get! Therefore, only a non-ethical sales person would be reluctant to respond to a buying signal. The reason they do this is because they know that their product or solution won’t stand up to close scrutiny. If you feel uncomfortable that your product or service is not up to par, then you perhaps need to consider moving to a company, whose products are.

Some of these signs are truly bad, whilst others are simple errors of judgement. Poor sales techniques such as these are usually an indication the sales person hasn’t had the training and support to help them become successful, AND ethical.

My passion for over 30 years has always been to sell ethically. I am proud to be a sales person, despite there still being many unethical sales people in our industry.

The challenge in changing this is twofold.

  1. We need to educate sales people about the right way to sell, which will always avoid quick big revenue wins and replace them with sustainable and profitable growth.
  2. We need to raise the profile of sales to a level where it is a well-respected profession to be in, not one to go into purely for the money. There are some fabulous organisations that support this objective, but I would also like to see the academic world put sales training education on the prospectus rather than leaving it to the self proclaimed gurus. Simply adding it to a business or marketing degree just down plays the importance of sales to a profitable company.

Now if hand on heart you know that you use some of these tactics to sell successfully, then we need to talk. It’s ok. I won’t judge you at all.

My aim is to simply to help you become the very best you can be at selling, without feeling the need to adopt unethical sales tactics to earn the big bucks. The flip side to this process is that you will not only become a lot more successful at selling, but you will be able to sustain that success beyond what would have been possible using more underhand techinques.