Ethical Selling: How Sales Leaders Can Foster a Culture of Integrity and Respect with Dr. Nadia Brown {Part Two}

Delve into the world of ethical sales practices with Dr. Nadia Brown in this episode of Straight Talk About Sales! Dr. Nadia Brown sheds light on the vital role of transparency and client-centricity in fostering trust and success in sales. Throughout this engaging discussion, Dr. Nadia emphasizes the need for clear and honest communication, both within the organization and with clients, to establish a strong foundation for ethical sales practices. She also underlines the importance of equipping team members with the knowledge and tools to operate ethically and provide an exceptional client experience. Join Dr. Nadia Brown as she shares her expertise and provides valuable insights that can revolutionize your approach to sales. Whether you’re a sales professional or a business leader, this episode offers a wealth of practical advice to elevate your sales strategy and set your organization apart. Get ready to gain a fresh perspective on ethical sales practices and a client-centric approach. Press play now and take your sales game to the next level!

Go to Show Notes here.

Here’s the transcript:


Throughout season three on the Straight Talk About Sales podcast, there’s been a lot of conversation around clarity and communication and culture. So in the final episode for this season, I wanted to actually complete part two of one of the earlier episodes that we did for this particular season around ethics and selling. And when you are building a team and you are creating a sales culture, one of the things that you have to look at is honesty, integrity, ethics, and what are those things that really are going to help set your company, your organization, apart from the others? And in doing that, there are certain aspects of it that we have to take into consideration because it goes beyond us as we are building out organizations and teams, and we are now kind of imparting, if you will, our values, our viewpoint in the world upon and sharing that with the other people on our team or within our organization, it’s really important that we are really clear on what those things are and we don’t pay lip service to it.        


You talk to people all the time and there’s like that written, whether it’s mission, vision, values, whether it’s a large corporation, I’ve been in corporate and there have been times, and it’s like, that sounds cute. But in reality, our lived reality in terms of the experience within an organization, or even the way that clients experience an organization, could be very different in this day and age that could be essentially detrimental to your company. So as we’re looking at ethics and we’re looking at really building out integrity and throughout an organization, there are a couple of things that I wanted to share on today’s episode to really help set the stage for that and continued work around why you might want to have these conversations throughout. Like, it’s not a one and done type of thing, but it’s really something for founders and leaders to really start thinking about how are we doing in this and how can we continue to do a great job. So the first thing is making sure that you’re truly a client centric organization.        


There are a lot of things clients are first and clients in this. And I don’t mean that clients are necessarily more important than team. That’s not what I’m saying. There is that place where if you take great care of your team, your team will take great care of your clients. So team, definitely.        


And as you are thinking about processes, as you are looking at your policies and procedures within how you operate along, I would say your buyer journey or your client journey, is it client centric? Are you really focusing on the needs, the desires, the aspirations of clients and what that experience will look like? Or is it a focus that is not client centric? And so you’re setting policies or you’re doing things within an organization that don’t necessarily align values wise. So when you look at it could be return policies, it could be refund policies, it could be just how people communicate within the organization.        


What are those things that as you’re putting together your client journey and really mapping those pieces out, what is the focus on the client and what is that client experience and how is the team coming in to really support and undergird that? The cool thing about team is when you talk to your team and you really get their input, people within different spots in the organization obviously have different experiences. And so that’s a great place to bring in team and have conversations and get feedback so that you’re making decisions not just from one place in one viewpoint, but you’re getting different inputs. And now you’re able to really influence how your clients and prospects are experiencing your organization or your company. And so that you want to have that experience be a pleasant one and not a negative one.        


I think a big part of that, though, also ties into my second point, which is transparency. This season, I feel like I’ve talked a lot about transparency, not so much even from a company to client standpoint, but also just within the organization, leader to team standpoint, being transparent, sharing the vision, being transparent about certain information. And the same way that level of transparency creates and breeds trust within the organization, it also creates trust and goodwill outside the organization. So when you start looking outside, what does that look like? And there were a couple of different places that I wanted to talk about.        


When you’re talking about integrity, ethical selling, really value centric selling, transparency is huge. And looking at different ways that you can do this. One is just in marketing and advertising, truth and advertising, I’m really paying attention to what are those things that you’re putting out there? Information that you’re sharing claims that we may share. Is it true?        


And are there moments when the truth might get stretched or it might be a little white lie, like really identifying those? I think the majority of us, is not that there is an intention of being dishonest, but it’s really easy to do if we’re not more intentional about the level of transparency that we have within and without the organization. Right. I think that is also important to again, go back and assess your values and what that looks like. So I know for us internally, we’ve really been doing a lot more around getting eyes on what information are we sharing?        


Statistics. And some of this is just my own academic training. There’s just certain things you just don’t do. But really, what information do we share? How do we position it?        


Can that be taken the wrong way? And don’t get me wrong, there are times when you think you hit it all and it’s still like, did not see that coming. But I think when you put the intention behind it and you’re really a lot more intentional about what type of information are we sharing and are we making a commitment to not making wild claims? Are we making a commitment to not making claims that we can’t substantiate? Are we making a commitment to really setting realistic expectations?        


I think that’s also a big part of it. As prospects and clients are going through that journey and they’re making buying decisions and they’re building a relationship with a brand or a company or organization, are we setting realistic expectations? Are we having those conversations to really help people understand what things could look like? Actually earlier, just today, a team member and myself were on a sales call where we were actually the buyer and potential buyer. So the prospect and the organization was just talking about how they could help our team achieve some of the goals that we want to achieve.        


And so one of my questions was, what’s a realistic time frame to expect results? I know that I should not expect results in 24, 48 hours, even for me, is unrealistic, but what’s a realistic time frame? And their response was, at least give it six months. So when you’re making this type of decision, and they were like, whether you go at our company or another company, give it six months, like, give it time to work and really looking at the data and the feedback and the things that we might need to tweak, et cetera. And I was like, okay, that’s good to know.        


I don’t know. I don’t know if six months is a good time frame or not, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb given that particular service that we were looking at. And so again, when you are communicating with your clients, what does that need to look like? Right. Another example, I know it’s a client that we actually worked with, and she was just you know,        


Dr. Nadia, one of the challenges that they were having, one of their services was a done for you service, and they were having some challenges with client expectations. So they onboard a client and a client was expecting a lot faster turnaround and results. Kind of similar to my questions, like, when should I expect to see a return or start to see results or whatever, right? And part of the challenge with that was a lack of communication during the sale.        


So kind of that marketing, advertising, sales process. And I advised her, I was like, you know what, we’re going to shift this. It’s not that your clients are being unreasonable. They just don’t know what to expect because you have not communicated that information to them. So we shifted her sales and onboarding process.        


And I was like, I want you to start communicating this before they sign on a dotted line. And I know it can be frightening because you want, obviously, to work with people and you get excited and all of that, but it’s important to start setting those expectations even before people sign or they pay. Right. They submit payment for their invoice. And she was like, okay.        


And then we took it a step further. So her team, they didn’t need the three to six months. Like that was a different time frame, but they needed at least 30, 45 days to get some things in place, get people up to speed, get things set up before they could really start cranking things out for clients. So not only did we commit to communicating that throughout the process, we took it a step further and we made it part of the onboarding sales process, that they had an agreement that outlined expectations and the clients would initial that they understood. Now, will that eliminate all concerns, complaints, et cetera?        


Possibly not. However, it does help to really set a different expectation and it’s a different experience for the client. So they know that, okay, this is what happens. We say, yes, we sign, we pay, and then we do X, we do Y, we do Z, and then we can start to expect results. So depending on how your organization is structured and your different offers, it’s important to really communicate these things along the way.        


Now, obviously, sometimes experience is our best teacher, but be paying attention to that and really look for those opportunities to refine that process. As you’re communicating throughout the sales process and even in marketing, you might begin to educate and create content pieces. If you do content marketing that really help your buyer understand what to expect. And similar to that sales conversation I had earlier todAy, he was like, whether you go with us or not, this is kind of what you can expect for this type of service. We don’t know.        


We’ll continue the conversation. But again, that level of transparency, it’s not promise the moon, the stars, and then you can only deliver a carton of milk, right? Like, it doesn’t even compute. So you want to be really transparent in that. I think another piece is also really providing information to help buyers make informed decisions.        


And so studies, and I don’t have the stats with me, but they’re not in the favor of sellers in terms of buyers really don’t want to engage too early because a lot of salespeople just have a bad rep and a lot of salespeople feel, let me rephrase that. A lot of buyers feel that salespeople don’t listen very well and that they don’t necessarily provide a lot of value in maybe some of those earlier stages. So that’s of the buying cycle. So again, that’s one way your organization can stand out by providing information and resources and really positioning yourself as that strategic ally and building actual trust. Right.        


Again, client centric, client focused. What is the experience? How can we make this buying journey and experience a pleasant one, but also where people are coming in eyes wide open and not waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Another area where it comes to transparency is pricing. Now, there’s a lot of debate.        


I’ve heard the debate. Do you tell the price up front or do you save it for later? I’ve been on both sides of that fence, but I think that in terms of, again, really helping buyers, especially certain buying types. Like I know that there are times when I kind of have an idea and it doesn’t matter as me personally as a buyer, but obviously not everyone buys the way I buy, and I also buy differently from my business when I have on my CEO hat versus when I’m just impersonal. Right?        


So there’s that. But really being open about pricing, I think sometimes, and this is actually full transparency, a challenge that we are currently facing. I haven’t yet quite figured out how I want to do that or how I feel the best way to do that is in terms of sharing, because some of the work that we do is custom, so it is more proposal based. But I think giving ranges, I think that’s the direction we’re going to end up going. It’s kind of giving a range so people can just kind of budget and really understand, because budget and money, the investment is a big part of that decision making.        


So again, you don’t have to have it all figured out. So if you were to go to our website, like today, it’s not there. We’re still trying to figure out how we want to position that, how much we share about our services, and just some revamps that we’re making at the time of this recording to our website, but also some of our other materials but it’s definitely something on my mind. I really want that experience to look different. And so we’re working towards that.        


But again, when you’re thinking about creating that integrity, creating that ethical selling, it really does help when a buyer goes into that conversation having some idea, even if it’s not down to the penny. And again, it depends on your organization, your offers, how you work with clients, and also what are some of those materials along that journey that you can share to really help them to understand? Because one of the arguments for not sharing an investment ahead of time has been that the buyer won’t understand the value without a conversation.        


And so they feel like there’s information you share, there’s information that’s shared both ways, then a conversation is had, and then that allows the sales team or the salesperson to really set the stage and help the buyer connect the dots in terms of understanding value and fit.        


This episode is not to debate that. However, I understand. Like I said, I’ve been on both sides, and for our organization, we’re making a commitment to really shift that for us. And how can we do that while at the same time understanding that our process is a little different for certain things that we do. And so we’re still committed to really flushing that out more, to be more transparent.        


Whereas in the past we hadn’t been that transparent about it, we didn’t even have our services at one point listed. So it’s a process, I get it. But again, when you’re looking at sales culture, creating that ethical sales process and really building that in, that is definitely a consideration because people want to know. And depending on what it is you’re offering, people need to know and have those conversations. So even if your sales process does require conversations, I think in those conversations, because some sales processes are multiple conversations, multiple people, is the sooner you can start to lay those things out, the sooner you can start talking about pricing, the sooner you can help people start to really understand.        


In the sales process. I think it’s a win-win, honestly, on both sides. So whether you have them published for whatever reason, you make a decision as to yay or nay. But I think as soon as you start that sales process, to start having those sales conversations and pricing conversations, I should say, is definitely helping people understand. If you are a proposal based organization, then what are those standards and what kind of ranges can people expect so that they can budget accordingly?        


And then the final thing that I want to share for this particular episode is really around employee training or team member training. What information or training does your team need to have in order to perform well and to also be able to show up ethically. So, for example, sometimes team members just don’t know. I work with teams, and this person over here didn’t even know that these were options, right? They were like, we do that.        


There’s that, like basic team knowledge across the organization. This is what we do. This is how we do it. I think that also goes back to really having a defined process that people are aware of. And then again, founders, leaders sharing vision, mission, values, it’s not A one and done conversation.        


I remember being in banking. I was in banking for several years, and every year we had different training around ethics. And what are the rules around banking that could land us in trouble, right? The banks are like, look, that’s a whole nother conversation for another day. My brain just went, but again, that was an annual thing.        


So every year you sit down and you go through, here are the rules, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, to keep you out of trouble. And I think that maybe to a lesser degree, we all need that even within our organizations. What are our values? What’s important to us? What do we sell?        


Like, it’s important for team to know that. And what is that process like? What can people expect? So even when you have people that may not be on a formal sales team, but they’re engaging with clients, with prospects, they can speak not only ethically, but they can speak confidently. They can speak knowledgeably to whatever that question is.        


And when they get to the point that it’s like, okay, I don’t know the answers to this anymore, they then know who to hand that person off to so they can be fully supported and creating a process for that handoff. We’re going to bring in this person because I want you to be well taken care of, not I want you to feel like, I don’t feel like being bothered and passed off, you’re still being handed off, but the experience is very different. And part of that, again, is the responsibility of leadership within an organization to ensure that team members even know what that is. That also may require you to actually go define what that is. So thinking about employee training that emphasizes operating ethically, but also some of it is just making sure they even know what’s going on.        


They have an awareness, even if it’s not their actual job to do some of those things. If they’re interacting with clients, they’re interacting with prospects. If they’re somehow part of marketing, like all these different things touch the sales process. Even if it’s not a formal sales role. And so I think that those are some really important pieces that as you’re looking at, okay, how do I create this sales culture?        


How do I help people understand that we’re all on the sales team? Like sales is a team sport. How do I really start to share this? And then also, how do we create this experience, this client journey that as people are becoming aware of our brand, as they are learning about how we may be able to help them solve a problem or help them achieve an aspiration that they have for themselves personally or within their organization, how can we equip them? How can we provide a level of transparency and what it is that we share?        


How can we demonstrate results and share client feedback and all those great things, but do it responsibly and within integrity and so that people have this amazing experience. And surprisingly, doing these things really start to help set organizations apart because unfortunately, it’s not common enough in my opinion. And so when you start to do these things within your organization, no matter the size, it really does help you to really stand out and stand apart from other organizations or even what you might consider your competitors, your competition. That’s also another podcast for another day. So really quick recap.        


So looking at ethical selling client centric, I would also add team member centric. I know we have some episodes just talking about teams, specifically transparency. Transparency within the organization, team transparency outside the organization, prospects, peers, community, all of that good stuff. Transparency in marketing and advertising, providing information so that buyers can make informed decisions and pricing. And then finally team member employee training.        


What skills, tools, information do team members need in order to speak intelligently, knowledgeably about certain things within the organization, but to also make sure they’re operating ethically. And obviously, depending on the type of company, you may have different guidelines and things that govern how you operate and how you do business. So making sure everyone is aware so that keeps not only the organization safe, but also, again, it provides a different type of experience for team members and buyers. Great. This is Dr.        


Nadia with another episode of Straight Talk about Sales. Thank you so much for joining me for season three. It’s great to kind of wrap this up with part two about ethics and stay tuned. Really excited for information that we’ll be sharing content for season four as we talk more about building teams. How know do we need a salesperson?        


What does that look like as you’re shifting your organization and really moving a founder outside of being the only salesperson, but then also really equipping sales team members to do much better, work confidently and generate more revenue and have a lot more fun. This is Dr. Nadia signing off. I’ll see you soon.