Sell ethically for sustainable business and commissions

To begin with, I was recently invited to a sales achievement awards ceremony and five things stood out for me. Today I share one. Sell ethically for sustainability. Next week. I’ll share the rest.

Now. Like in any other awards ceremony, there were different categories. The one that I found of greatest interest is the category that rewarded those whose business had not turned to loss. There was an acceptable cut-off point for loss, of course. And those above it were rewarded handsomely. It was interesting to note that only a select few of the overall winners met this cut off point. In my world, they were awarded for selling ethically. This category had my absolute attention. Here’s why?

Salesperson is gatekeeper

Being at the frontline, the salesperson has the grave responsibility of determining whom he lets into the fold, and whom he doesn’t. Like the askaris, receptionists or nurses he must pass through to meet his prospect, he too is a gatekeeper. Only time will tell whether it’s a sheep; a glaring wolf; or, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Admittedly, genuine losses will occur but it’s irresponsible of the salesperson to look away and let Lucifer in. Usually this happens for the short term gain of earning commissions, while compromising their long term sustainability. In effect biting the hand that feeds him.

Now then. Ethical selling cannot be overstated. If the sales process were the alimentary canal, the sales person would be the mouth that opened to let the poison in. Once past the throat, only the resulting seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea would raise the red flag. With luck, the system get’s cleaned and the host doesn’t die. You may once recall the relentless punitive campaign a telecommunications firm held against a former employee charged with fraud and the court proceedings involved. This is how painful irresponsible gatekeeping can get.

Fraud starts with an account. Sell ethically for sustainability

Now then. According to reports, last year alone, financial institutions lost a staggering Kes. 2B to fraud. These losses are not all made by the frontline, of course. Still, a portion of the fraud that occurs in these financial institutions is possible because an account was opened. Such an account is not limited to that of a bank. Suppliers, distributors, creditors and all business significant others irrespective of industry have an account through which they pay or are paid.

Sell ethically for sustainability

Sell ethically for sustainability to avoid double edged sword

The sales person in the manufacturing concern, insurance company, or media outlet is charged with the responsibility of canvassing for the new accounts, proceeds from which will keep the entity afloat. This responsibility is a double edged sword. It can benefit or bleed the company. An organization’s frontline is truly its Achilles heel. A country’s borders can be porous and let in elements bent on ill, as we have recently experienced in Kenya with terrorist attacks. Equally, a company’s border, manned by its points of contact, is just as exposed to the extent of their being ethical.

To be fair, there could be innocent reason for letting in the wolf. The salesperson, naive in matters operational, and driven purely by the pressure to meet targets, may not make the mental leap from harmless sales statistic to potentially harmful account. Again, to be fair to him, in the quest to rapidly stimulate the sales numbers, focusing largely on the importance of sales contests, some organizations have forgotten to educate sellers of the repercussions of not selling ethically for sustainability, and so, letting the snake into the garden. Consequently, an avalanche of accounts has been opened and an equally painful onslaught of closing many of them has followed.

Financial and reputational risk

Sell ethically for sustainability. Selling unethically presents both a financial and reputational risk to both the salesperson and the business. The Daily Nation has a Public Notice page. It’s sad that most times the mug shot is of a salesperson turned rogue. Such repeated actions by a firm cast aspersions on its credibility. Selling responsibly is a mutual task. Continual education and reinforcement by the business owner on the one hand, while on the other, the sales person being ethical, and not a con.


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