Build your trust fund and unlock business opportunities
Companies that work in partnership with the Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP) say fair, ethical selling promotes customer trust and loyalty, higher morale amongst sales teams and has a significant, positive impact on the way they do business.
By Patrick Joiner, ISP managing director
Trust is the key to good business relationships. It opens doors, helps to win contracts and drives the wheels of commerce, and for salespeople who are the interface between their company and the customer, it’s crucial. A salesperson who can demonstrate honesty and integrity will stand out from the competition, and in a challenging market this can be the difference between winning and losing.
Stephen MR Covey, a world-leading authority on trust, leadership, and culture in business, and best-selling author of The Speed of Trust says: “When trust is low in a company or in a relationship, it places a hidden ‘tax’ on every transaction, every communication, every interaction, every strategy. Every decision is taxed, bringing speed down and sending costs up.”
Covey says that in his experience “significant distrust doubles the cost of doing business and triples the time it takes to get things done.
“By contrast, individuals and organisations that have earned and operate with high trust, experience the opposite of a tax - a ‘dividend’ that is like a performance multiplier, enabling them to succeed in their communications, interactions and decisions, and to move with incredible speed.”
But how can a salesperson or a sales team guarantee, even before they have met a customer, that they will act with integrity and can be trusted?
Professional credentials are a reliable way to demonstrate knowledge, skill, and ethical behaviour and that is especially true now when many business interactions happen by videocall or phone, rather than face to face.
Clients expect to see professional certificates displayed by their solicitor or architect so why not a salesperson? In the past, that has mainly been because it was almost impossible for salespeople to demonstrate their expertise and honesty, but that has changed with the Fair framework, code of conduct, ethics exam, and professional register, established by the Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP).
Under the Fair programme, salespeople who are members of the Institute pledge to Follow the rules; provide Appropriate solutions in the best interests of their customers, stakeholders and the organisations they work for; act with Integrity; and Raise the bar with continuing professional development.
To appear on the ISP’s professional register, salespeople must pass the Institute’s Fair ethics exam which tests their professional knowledge, decision-making ability, and honesty in doing the right thing for their customers. The exam is not a simple test. To pass, candidates must score at least 85%. A new exam has to be taken every two years, so salespeople need to keep their skills and knowledge up to date to remain on the ISP’s public register of competent, ethical salespeople.
Unlocking business opportunities
Once they have passed the exam, sales professionals can display their qualification on digital signatures, presentations, and other marketing material. It shows potential customers that they will be dealing with a reliable and trustworthy business professional. For sellers, it becomes a dividend which unlocks business opportunities.
Organisations whose sales teams have passed the Fair ethics exam back this up when they report that the ISP’s professional endorsement has made a fundamental difference to the way they are viewed, respected and trusted by clients. Sales teams where at least 75% of salespeople pass the exam are presented with the ISP’s Investor in Sales Award, though in reality the ISP’s corporate members are keen to ensure that all their salespeople pass and are registered as sales professionals.
Three of our partner companies - Ideagen, Arco and Safestyle, working in business-to-business, and business-to-consumer environments - who have all gained the Investor in Sales Award say that their partnership with the ISP helps them create a stronger connection with their customers, and gives them a priceless commodity: trust.
Honesty and integrity
Ben Dorks, the CEO of Ideagen, a leading provider of software solutions to businesses in highly-regulated industries, said: “Trusted, ethical sales colleagues are one of the most valuable assets we can have as a business and our membership of the ISP is a fundamental part of our long-term, customer and employee-centric growth plans.
“Our membership of the ISP is part of our strategy of investment for future success. It sets the foundation for customer loyalty, higher morale among our teams and sustainable growth for our business.
“Customer experience is key and treating our leads, prospects and customers with fairness, honesty and integrity is absolutely crucial.”
Values and goals
Chris Lett, sales director at Arco, the experts in workplace safety, said: “Arco is committed to being ethical in what we sell and how we sell and was proud to become the first business in our sector to secure the prestigious Investor in Sales Award from the ISP.
“The work we are undertaking with the ISP will ensure that our sales colleagues can provide expert knowledge and advice to customers and that they sell products and services in an ethical way.
“For Arco, it was important that we worked with a partner, like the ISP, who shared our values and goals.”
Gary Pickering, chief commercial officer at Safestyle UK, the windows and doors company, said: “The Institute of Sales Professionals has been vital to our success.”
Pickering puts much of the company’s sales transformation down to the “impartial standing and reputation of the ISP and the rigour and value of its professional registration” which has enabled the company to accelerate its programme of sales ethics with extraordinary results. So much so that local trading standards, once interested in Safestyle for the wrong reasons, have visited the company to learn more about the positive change in its sales culture.
One of his first acts at Safestyle was to enrol the company as corporate members of the Institute of Sales Professionals because Pickering said it was vital to work with “an independent body that sets professional standards and tests its individuals for their understanding of right and wrong”.
He continued: “Introducing a better way to sell creates a better experience for customers and wins more business. It also creates more voluntary referrals and a more positive word of mouth, or positive chatter on social media.”
For these, and other companies that work in partnership with the Institute of Sales Professionals, trust has had a significant impact on the way they do business. As the Institute expands its network and registration process, more companies and more customers will find reassurance in the ethical selling practices that we are working hard to promote, develop and support.
To learn more about our Fair ethics programme please follow the link, because customers and businesses depend on sales professionals and organisations they can trust.