Sales ethics


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Britain's other 2012 legacy
How will a new age of ethics affect selling?

In Autumn 2012 I was asked to give a talk on the ethics of selling to a network of ethical businesspeople. As a lifelong salesman, I felt a little like a lonely lion being thrown into a den of Daniels. To my surprise I managed to make a good case for the ethical approach of most salespeople. But I've since realised there was more to the invitation than I realised ‒ 2012 was a truly remarkable year ‒ Britain appears to have rediscovered ethics!

The feedback from my broadcast of this slide deck was intriguing ... to follow later.

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Sales ethics

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  2. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Was 2012 the start of a new ‘age of ethics’?
  3. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Britain’s other 2012 legacy Despite continuing poor economic performance, perhaps in part caused by the fear of a Grexit facing our European neighbours and major trading partner, Britain had a wonderful year in 2012: ► We celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s . ► The London Olympics went off almost without a hitch ‒ even the weather was good! While we wait to see if Britain reaps the Olympic dividend promised by our politicians from the legacy of the games, something more significant is happening. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 3
  4. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | An outbreak of ethics It is almost a Bankers’ dream come true, even as the LIBOR scandal was breaking their reputations have faded into the background while the press, politicians, the police and the rich suffered severe reputational damage: ► The newspaper industry was subjected to a lengthy public enquiry, with the 53rd journalist arrested for phone hacking in early December. ► Multinationals were criticised by a Parliamentary committee for manipulating their UK tax liability, leading to a consumer boycott. ► Tax avoidance proved not to be such a funny matter for the wealthy, with several extreme tax scams exposed in the press together with their users. ► Following his forced resignation, even a politician appears to have told the truth after all. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 4
  5. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | The new triad: press, police & politicians? The Leveson Enquiry “For the seventh time in less than 70 years, a report has been commissioned by the Government which has dealt with concerns about the press. It was sparked by public revulsion about a single action – the hacking of the mobile phone of a murdered teenager.” “During the course of the enquiry the relationship between the press and the police … [and] inclusion of the press and politicians followed.” 337 witnesses gave evidence in person, nearly 300 others gave evidence in writing. The report made 92 recommendations. We have yet to learn what will change following the report, but public outrage at the scale and indiscriminate nature of phone tapping by the press might just help to re-establish a balance between freedom of the press and the privacy of private individuals. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 5
  6. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Tax Avoidance The Times exposed a series of extreme tax avoidance schemes used by the rich and famous including several well known show business personalities. ► HMRC estimates that £10.2Bn of tax is at risk through aggressive avoidance schemes. ► Up from £9Bn in 2011. ► Avoidance schemes are used by 40,000+ individuals and small businesses. ► This figure pales into comparison with the £25Bn of tax at risk from larger businesses. This continues despite 93 anti-avoidance laws having been introduced since 2004. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 6
  7. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | “In deciding to invest in the K2 scheme, Carr did indeed make what he has called ‘a terrible error of judgment’. For while this scheme may be legal, it is a blatant example of aggressive tax avoidance that most reasonable people would have felt was neither in the spirit of the law nor fair to the taxpaying fans from whom he earns his living. … But there is a world of difference between protecting savings from tax in an ISA, for example, as millions of people do, and investing in tortuous schemes involving offshore trusts in order to reduce tax payments to minuscule levels. This is the kind of “aggressive” tax avoidance that the Chancellor has called morally repugnant. …The issue is not just about Carr. He has climbed down, and quickly, from K2. That is to his credit.” The Times 22 June 2012 © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 7 Not so funny!
  8. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Multinationals under pressure In November the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee summoned representatives of Google, Amazon and Starbucks. Subsequently, perhaps as a result of consumer pressure, Starbucks agreed to “pay a significant amount of tax”, thought by experts to be about £20m “regardless of whether they were profitable”. Meanwhile, Amazon have reported Christmas 2012 sales “up more than 250% on 2007”. Against this Amazon’s worldwide sales grew 342% from $14.8Bn in 2007 to $48 Bn in 2011. They rarely break out their UK sales figures, but in 2012 my hallway looked slightly less like Amazon’s goods inwards than in previous years. So far Google appears untouched. Only the might of the German Government seems to be taking them on by trying to require Google to obtain permission before it publishes links to news web sites. Though you could try switching your search to they won’t track your searches either. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 8 Revenue UK Corporation Tax Google £2.6Bn £6m (0.4%) Amazon £3.3Bn nil Starbucks £398m nil
  9. “Plebgate” turns into “Plodgate” Andrew Mitchell, the Government’s Chief Whip was forced to resign in October having been accused of referring to the Police as “plebs” a particularly toxic term for a Conservative politician to use. Yet his reputation may yet be restored. In December an “independent” witness, previously thought to have been a member of the public, was reported to be an off duty policemen who wasn’t even present at the scene of the altercation.
  10. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Only the Church of England… © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 10 … could prove so contrarian. On November 21st the General Synod decided not to allow the ordination of women bishops, 37 years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act.
  11. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | How will this affect the way we sell?
  12. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Attitudes vary In the UK people are wary of being sold to, whereas in the US people are more positive. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 12 Attitudes will also vary from market to market, but if there is a new ethical climate in Britain, we should consider being more open about how we sell.
  13. Here are a few ideas Is any of this unethical?
  14. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Some of the traits of good sales people ► Ready to search for prospects. ► Listen to prospects carefully. ► Explain how their solution works. ► During their campaign they: ● Prove the value of their product or service. ● Check for missing information. ● Minimise any weaknesses. ● Emphasise their strengths. ► … and they are good at managing their time by qualifying out. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 14
  15. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Be more transparent when qualifying out ► Don’t just drop a prospect cold, politely explain why you can’t help. ► Spending time trying to sell to someone who doesn’t need what you’ve got wastes time. It’s also dispiriting. ► Explaining why you can’t help can be an investment. The next time the prospect may return asking for some advice when you can help. ► Good salesmen try to attain “trusted advisor” status with their prospects and clients. Being honest when you can’t help encourages trust. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 15
  16. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Encourage a shift in attitude Encourage people to think of selling as a combination of: © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 16 detective work finding prospects teaching explaining benefits
  17. © Consilium Consultancy Ltd 17 Pictures courtesy of Microsoft clip art, Wikimedia and others. Improve your sales performance Sales and marketing Coaching Consultancy Training More sales and marketing insights here