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The Surprising Benefit of Ethical Standards: Increase Your Sales

The Surprising Benefit of Ethical Standards: Increase Your Sales

Can you develop ethical standards and still grow your sales and profits? Yes!

When you strengthen your customer relationships, that is exactly what will happen. But there are strongly seeded challenges that you need to overcome first. Sales and marketing professionals routinely struggle to overcome customers’ distrust—largely because traditional sales and marketing tactics often emphasize evasion and manipulation.

Seller Beware or Buyer Beware?

When you show the buyer a product that is not as it appears, you are deceiving someone’s eyes. You are misleading a buyer since they cannot see what is really there, much like the rock in the path of the blind man or putting a fresh coat of paint on a previously damaged vehicle. The buyer has the right to full disclosure, to know the truth which lies in front before the sale is finalized. As the seller, it is your responsibility to make these things clear.

As a general rule, there is the business concept called caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, which states that it is the buyer’s responsibility to perform due diligence. However, the sages disagree, stating that it is the seller’s responsibility, caveat vendor, let the seller beware. Thus, the seller provides full disclosure by not lying or concealing defects. The buyer should presume that there are no problems unless informed by the seller. It is the seller’s obligation to be honest and transparent.

Building Your Reputation on Truth

I remember a story about the importance of telling the truth. There was a wise teacher who founded a learning center in New Jersey. He acquired a small building for this purpose. The walkway leading up to the building was lined with trees, two on one side and three on the other. A photograph of the building was taken, and a graphic designer felt that the picture would look better if another tree was added to the walkway so that there would be three trees on either side. An extra tree was drawn into the picture.

When the teacher saw the finished picture, he was very disappointed and exclaimed, “This is not a true likeness of this house of learning!” He ordered that the picture be discarded and new ones prepared. He declared: “I’m building a house of learning based upon the foundation of the principles of truth and honesty, so I do not want even a small trace of misrepresentation or dishonesty to be involved in the foundation of this institution!”

Today, the house of learning has more than 4,000 active students, and five trees still stand in front of it.

The school’s founder established an ethical standard and the student enrollment grew exponentially. The employees and parents believed that a major factor of the school’s success was the result of the high standards of ethical behavior—in theory and practice. Clearly, the ethical practices and success of this non-profit organization can apply to for-profit corporations too!

In sum, . Your sales and profits will increase from new business through customer referrals, you will receive larger orders from existing customers, and you will even have more time available to source out new business rather than trying to repair poor relationships because of customer mistrust.


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by Joel Malkoff // Joel Malkoff, a.k.a. the Ethics Giver, demonstrates that ethical business decision-making isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the profitable thing to do. Over the course of his 45-year career as a business executive and entrepreneur, he has generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. A writer and speaker on ethical business practices and principles, he serves as general manager and vice president of a corporation that manufactures and sells medical and scientific research products worldwide. Selling Ethically: A Business Parable Connecting Integrity with Profits is his debut book.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.