There is an old Buddhist saying:
“Integrity isn’t a new place from which to play the game, it is the game”.

The sales process has rarely been able to integrate the concepts of integrity and trust and many of the existing selling processes are in fact contrary to this position. So then why is it so and what do we need to do to acknowledge the value in a business relationship that has as its major focus the position of integrity and trust.

It is constantly amazing to find that little seems to have changed in the way sales people approach the sales function. There has been much greater change in the marketing area where advertising and promotion strategies have constantly altered and improved to cater for massive changes in buyer behaviour. Why then has the sales culture not kept pace with the changes that occur in the market place?

The answer is simple. Most businesses have developed with a culture which I would describe as operational, financial and/or administrative, and as such the senior management, by that I mean, managing director level have usually come through these areas of business. As such their specific skill or focus on the selling function has been minimal, and as a result they have spent most of their time in developing their organisation’s ability to have the most operationally effective products and services with little or no sales strategy of communicating this to the market place via interpersonal selling.

Historically, twenty years ago “if you could manufacture a product you could sell it”. The reason was quite simple, there were a large number of buyers with large amounts of cash who desperately sought new products and services. As a result most businesses have focused their attention on the production process. Today the reverse is accurate ” If you can sell it you can manufacture it”. This is because the production processes of most businesses are so sophisticated, so automated and so computer driven that there seems little limit to the flexibility of style of product that they are capable of manufacturing. The opportunity is, however, to be more sales receptive and market receptive in order to ensure that the existing market is activated to purchase this vast new range of products and services in a highly competitive and demanding market.

There is a second reason why little has changed in the face-to-face selling system. Most of the sales training and sales skill development programs used by organisations have been designed around an antiquated, out of date, selling philosophy and in the absence of any alternative approach, we have continued to use these philosophies where overcoming objections and closing the sale had an immense priority. In the new world of selling, “the relationship is always more important than the sale”. So what can we do to not only appreciate this process, but ensure that in all cases our clients appreciate the significance of the relationship regardless of the products or services we sell.

This is not the easiest question to answer. We can commence this enquiry by asking ourselves some simple questions.

1. Do I care for my clients in terms of what my product or service can contribute to their profit or future?

2. If I seem to be driven by my own profit, then is this preventing the excellence of a relationship between my clients and myself?

3. Why don’t I call back on my clients to regularly enquire as to how they are using the profit that I have contributed to their business?

4. What strategy do I have to ensure that I communicate integrity and trust in the relationships that I develop, not only with my clients but in my personal life?

The answers to these questions will assist you in doing a stock take into how you feel about the relationships you have developed or need to develop in your day to day business life.

Perhaps it is impossible to differentiate the quality of this relationship, with the relationship you have in your private life. So if you cheat a bit, then it must be okay by you, for others to cheat on you. If Jehovah Witness’ call in on your home and you tell them a heap of lies, then it must be okay for others to do the same to you. What is being alluding to here is the importance for a “new revolution” which will be sales driven, which has the potential to assist us to cope with what appears to be a down turn in the market (based on little trust and low confidence), and to change the market ‘s perception of the basis of business interaction from being one of little or no trust, to one of quality, integrity and trust base relationships.

I wonder how many people reading this article would be prepared for a supplier of a product to trust them with deciding on what price they should pay for the product based on its real value to them the consumer. Here is a hypothetical question, which you may care to answer in your private time.

If you were invited to attend what appeared to be the best Sales, Motivation and Marketing Convention ever to be held in this country, for which no fee would be charged, but you would be requested to pay for it after you had attended the seminar, and that what you pay will be totally up to you, how would you feel about attending such a Seminar?

Would you attend, and if it was the best you have been to, would you pay a fee, whether it was $1 or $1,000, or would you walk away cheating on a relationship of trust?

We need to have enough faith in the quality of human beings to believe that most of us would honour the trust placed in us by a supplier. So what process does your company have to show its clients that it not only cares about them but that it trusts them in terms of the relationship they have? These are the questions we need to address in order to move the sales and marketing systems from being invalid to being valid and applicable to the existing values of human interaction.

Maybe the successful sales executive of the future will not look like the people that have been successful in the past. Maybe the sales training processes that have proven valuable in the past will become grossly obsolete, as will the selection criteria for sales people. It is certainly possible that success in this field will be based around a brand new set of parameters, which will support the philosophy that “the relationship is always more important than the sale”.