Most companies and salespeople strive to be highly ethical when dealing with potential customers. Alas, some unethical sales tactics still do appear from time-to-time, usually to the misfortune of all involved with them. Here are three common unethical sales tactics you should work to eliminate from your sales repertoire:
Never badmouth your competitors
Saying bad things about the competition does several things which are not in your best interests. First, a potential customer is more likely to remember someone you speak badly about than if you say nothing at all. Second, potential customer (especially today) are quite savvy and capable of reading between the lines. If you say something negative about other competitors, it must probably be because their offerings threaten you, which means your products and services are inferior, right? That may not be the case, but it is what your potential customers will think. Third, if you say something bad about a competitor which is false (and they find out about it), they can sue you for slander, or for libel if you print the statement about them. Therefore, speaking poorly of your competitors is an unethical sales technique you will want to avoid.
Never promise things you can not deliver
This is just a basic principle of good business. Yes, you might win a sale or two in the short-term but your customers will eventually find out if you do not deliver on your promises later. Furthermore, if your customers are dissatisfied, they will complain about the under-performance to you, and if it is not resolved to their satisfaction still, they may tell others to avoid you and your company. Even worse, they may provide negative reports about you to various media sources (local news, the internet, etc.), which is publicity you really do not need. When in doubt, under-promise and over-deliver for those who choose to be your customers, instead of using this unethical tactic.
Never use large amounts of fine print (especially for important parts of a deal)
Here is another unethical sales tactic which really needs to go the way of the dodo. Potential customers know that almost nothing beneficial lurks for them inside those 16 pages of 4-point type, and it is a major inconvenience to them to have to read through every section before doing business with you, let alone expecting them to hire an attorney to do so as part of a "standard agreement." Keep things simple, and if you can not do without the fine print, at least emphasize any major items which customers should definitely want to consider. If your reasonable customers would get mad or feel tricked later on upon discovering the finer points of your "deal," then it is probably an unethical tactic you should do without.
Thus, when you avoid badmouthing your competitors, only promise things which you can deliver on, and drop the excessive use of fine print, your sales go up, while your headaches and legal problems tend to drop significantly.
Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays
Marc Mays is the creator of http://www.myplatinumparachute.com/, which helps first-time small business owners obtain the critical skills needed for their small business success.
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