How’s your Sales Integrity?

Many of us have seen the ongoing saga in the NZ Herald this week, of a customer wondering just how much water came out of the chicken breasts when he went to cook a lovely stir-fried meal.  This story has created such an uproar that Newshub’s Tristram Clayton was filmed cooking his 1 kg of chicken, and measuring the water that came out.

The question everyone’s asking is this – Did someone add water into the chicken breasts, to make them appear larger (so they appeal to the customer) and/or to make them weigh more (so the customer gets charged more)?

This story highlights the importance of integrity in sales and in our customer relationships.

Even more staggering – integrity might just be the most under-utilised tool in many companies’ sales arsenals.  I heard an incredible definition of ‘Integrity’ several years ago.  Allow me to share – ‘Integrity is who you are in the dark when no-one else can see’.  The funny thing about integrity is that it is often revealed later – so it’s wise to operate with integrity even when no-one can see.

Some of you might already be laughing.  Sadly, the image persists of the used-car salesperson, spinning a good yarn to flick on another rubbish vehicle to a poor unsuspecting customer.  Can integrity and sales exist together?

Yes, they can.  And yes, they should.

Telling the truth to our customers is often how our businesses can demonstrate integrity.   Sometimes, it will cost you a sale.  This happened recently here at Magnify.  We exist to grow sales and grow business for our customers.  Trust is an important part of our client relationships.  Clients trust Magnify to tell them the truth about their sales needs.

In one case, a recent potential customer was keen to get started on their sales campaign.  However, their website was just a simple landing page, and as such, it did not support their high-value offering.  Buying processes have radically changed.  Before purchasing, potential customers will look online to validate your high-value offering.  If your website needs serious help, or if you don’t even have a website – you’re in trouble.

The truth of the matter was – we could get started on the customer’s sales campaign.  And some good things would happen, because Magnify is good at sales.  However, the customer would obtain far more benefit by having a decent website, which validated their high-value offering.

So, at the risk of losing a sale and offending the customer forever, I told them the truth about their website.  I also suggested a website designer I know who creates quality websites at an affordable starting price; they’re now working together to craft just the right website for this business.

In another situation, I told a customer the truth about how little time they needed to achieve a small sales goal.  Potentially, this meant a much smaller sale for Magnify.

Recently, I’ve been impressed with the integrity displayed by a couple of other businesses whom I referred Magnify clients to.  In each case, these businesses have told the truth to their new potential client about what the client needs.  The website designer is very honest with her clients, a branding specialist is also honest with his clients.

Sometimes integrity means a delayed sale, or perhaps no sale.  This can be a challenging result to live with when you want to make budget.

What I love about these two suppliers is that they value Magnify clients as much as we do.  Their integrity makes me more inclined to refer new business to them – because I want the best for anyone that I refer, as I’m sure all of us do.

Integrity may cost you a sale in the short-term.  Long-term, integrity protects your business reputation, which ultimately increases your sales.  When those customers are market-ready, you will get to talk to them again.  And you’ll get better results because you’ve done the right thing to create those results.  Even more exciting news – the customers will tell their contacts that you are honest to deal with.

So – what about the chicken breasts?  Is there water in them?  From today’s news story, we can see how important it is that customers can trust what we’re saying about our products and services.

Integrity is important.  Tell the truth.  Your customers will benefit, and you will too!