How to sell when limited by ethics

Limited by ethics or not, whichever tactic the seller deploys requires that he insert himself in the buyer’s business. 

To begin with, looking at marketing purely as giveaways or advertising is limiting, even idle. Usually, sellers compete on one or a combination of what are called marketing P’s. That is, product quantity or quality, price friendliness and promotion (marketing). Then there is processes being user-friendly, people (competent staff), or place (where services can be accessed).

What to do when limited by ethics and the 7 P’s

Sometimes though, a seller is constrained on freely playing about with these P’s because of ethics or it is not sustainable.

When pricing or ethics limit the negotiation potential, try wooing instead. Take medical representatives (commonly referred to as med reps) who’s job is to ‘sell’ their drugs to doctors. Or, some bank relationship managers (RMs) whose job is to seek institutions with access to large sums of money. And having done so, convince them to deposit the funds with them. Such institutions could be churches with funds from members’ collections, or non-governmental organizations, donor funds.

Missionary selling by medreps

Bound by ethics, med reps are limited to sharing information as a way of selling. This is why detailing (which is what selling to doctors is called) is commonly referred to as missionary selling. Yes, they can use promotion as a sales gambit and they do. Only problem is, many limit themselves to branded giveaways.

Limited by ethics

And the problem with this, is that it becomes a competition. With some doctors objecting to the sale with, “Is this the pen you brought me? Let me show you what your competitor gave me.”  When the competitor is a multinational pharmaceutical powerhouse, and your firm is barely a blip on the industry radar, this statement shrinks you further.  

Limited by ethics? Woo

As for the bank RM, limited by cost of funds (meaning how much his bank can afford to give as interest), he would be unwise to negotiate via a price war. For these sellers, and their kind, wooing can work.

And, yes, wooing is a form of promotion. Only, those that do if effectively do not limit themselves to branded giveaways. There’s a bank RM, for instance, that was known by her NGO clients for her cakes to celebrate every small milestone the NGOs made. Yet another, is willingly accessible to donors despite of the sometimes wildly different time zones each is in relative to hers.  Whichever tactic the seller deploys, it requires that they insert themselves in the buyer’s business. 

This is the same with the progressive med rep.

In addition to giving birthday cards, there’s one who makes the PowerPoint slides for any presentation the doctor (potential ‘buyer’) is making to fellow doctors. In other words, he ‘promotes’ himself by seeking  opportunities to make the doctors hectic life easier. You see, he knows that the doctor, at any time, has five or more medreps itching to pitch him. He also knows that he can only inform the doctor of his drugs, that many times. Beyond which he becomes an irritant, because he is repeating himself.

So he removes himself from this insensible frenzy and wisely inserts himself in the doctor’s life with the intention of lightening his work load. 


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