11 Jul Why honesty matters in sales
“What’s the most important quality in a salesperson?”
I’ve worked in sales for decades now, and I’ve seen that question pop up a thousand times.
My answer is always the same, and it tends to surprise people. But recently, I answered that question in the usual way, and the response was not just surprise. It was cynicism, as if to say “you can’t possibly think that.”
Well, I do. In my view, the most important quality in a salesperson is honesty. Yes, honesty. No, that’s not a typo! And the reason for this blog is to explain why I’m convinced this is right.
Stereotypes about sales
I’m well aware of the negative stereotypes about sales. And I’ll be blunt – those stereotypes exist for a reason. There’s a long list of scandals in sales. Endowment mortgages and PPI are two examples among many. Everyone’s been bothered by cold-callers and door-knockers.
No doubt, those misselling practices are still going on today. Let’s face it – the reason salespeople have a bad name is because of bad salespeople! But they’re just a small minority of an overall great group of people.
The benefit of honesty in sales
It’s unethical to mislead people. That’s reason enough not to do it in sales. But there’s another reason to make honesty part of your sales strategy: it works.
I’m not completely naïve here. You may well get some short-term gains from deceiving people. But the key phrase there is short-term gains. It won’t last. Best case, you’ll get a bad reputation and lose custom through word of mouth. Worst case, you end up in legal trouble.
With an honest approach, it’s the exact opposite. You may well start slower if you’re less pushy. But be patient, and you’ll get a reputation for being honest. That kind of trust is priceless. It means customers will come to you knowing that your advice is with their best interests at heart.
What we do at One Connectivity
At One Connectivity, where I’m Sales Director, we offer business-to-business communication tech. Our wheelhouse is in things like phone systems and internet connectivity.
Some telecoms providers upsell and upsell like there’s no tomorrow. They’ll always recommend the most expensive solutions, and every unnecessary add-on they can.
What we do is the opposite. First, we consult with our customers on their needs and budget. Then, we use our knowledge of the tech to offer something that’s going to work for them. It’s as simple as that. Expertise and trust are what matter to us.
Clearly, this is better for our customers. But I also think it’s better for us. Quite simply, a reputation for honesty is the most reliable path to a business that’s sustainable in the long-term. And there’s only one way to get a reputation for honesty – by being honest!
This is what we apply to service, to client relations and to sales. I’m proud to be able to help our customers thrive. Not only does it feel good, but it also works for us in the long run. Our customer retention rates are exceptional, and we generate loads of new business from customer referrals.
That’s a direct consequence of a long-term commitment to honesty. And that is why honesty matters in sales. Sometimes, the right thing to do is also the smart thing to do!