What's the secret of being able to sell ethically without being manipulative, salesy or pushy?
No, seriously. It's marketing.
Why Marketing is the Key to Ethical Selling
Let's think about what might cause someone to sell unethically. To manipulate or push someone into buying something they perhaps don't really want or need?
Or to bring it right home, what might cause you or me to sell unethically?
I'm a nice person. I'm sure you're a nice person. In fact overwhelmingly, most people I know are nice people.
None of us wants to sell unethically. So why might we do it?
Selling is a pretty simple process when it comes down to it. You sit down with someone, disucss their problems and challenges, goals and aspirations. You talk about what it would take to solve or achieve them – and what the impact would be. Then you discuss how you might be able to help and whether you're a good fit for working with them.
Why might that conversation stray and become manipulative?
The answer is desperation.
If you're the only potential client a professional has met for a month and he needs you to hire him so he can pay the mortgage and feed the kids, then the chances are that even if you're not a perfect fit, he's going to try to “sell” you.
Desperate professionals overstep the mark. If they really need the sale, they perhaps claim their service is that little bit better than it actually is. They ignore some of the alternative options the client could take even though they should really mention them. They try to get the client to sign up quickly, instead of when the time is right for them.
So if it's you, how do you stop that desperation causing you to sell unethically?
Well, you either develop an iron will…
Or in the real world, you remove the cause of the desperation.
And that's where marketing comes in.
Marketing makes sure you have a service that's in demand. That lots of potential clients want and need and that will deliver great value to them.
And marketing makes sure you have a steady stream of leads – more than you need – so that when you sit down with that potential client, he's not the only one you've seen that month. You have a backlog of potential clients to see.
And that way, when he's not a perfect fit, or the timing isn't right for him, there's no need for you to push or drive for a sale you really shouldn't be pushing for.
You can do what's best for the client and move on, confident that the bills will still be paid and little Johnny will still have plenty to eat. Because there's a steady flow of high quality leads coming in to your business. If this one isn't right, the next one will be, or the next one.
Truth be told: ethical selling is pretty easy if you've got more leads than you need.
So marketing, good marketing, is the key to ethical selling.
–> By the way, one of the very best resources on behaving (and selling) ethically is Charlie Green's Trust Matters blog. Lots of very thought provoking articles that will help you come to grips with this tricky topic.