Code of conduct within the sales industry
Code of conduct
Code of conduct regulations apply to many different professionals. The NHS, Police, Fire fighters, lawyers and government run organisations, all follow a code of conduct. Regulated by their governing bodies it makes individuals accountable for their actions.
Regulations are designed as a template for employees, companies and organisation to follow. Most importantly, it encourages good practice and promotes ethical behaviour. Code of conduct guidelines are created to protect recipients/customers, employers and organisations from wrong doing.
Conduct within the sales industry
The sales industry has, over the years, struggled to fall in line with codes of conduct. Fundamentally, this was mainly due to the high demands and pressure on sales professionals achieve high sales leads, often by any means necessary. Unfortunately this created a cloud of distrust from consumers and left the sales industry battling to rebuild is reputation.
In recent times sales professionals and employers noticed that loyalty and longevity with clients is more beneficial and can be achieved by forming a relationship based on trust and transparency.
Because transparency and trust has become a vital part of consumer retention, the importance for the profession to be regulated and for individuals to follow a code of conduct is much needed. Therefore making individuals accountable for their actions and to encourage ethical practices.
Is there a code of conduct for the sales profession?
The APS (Association of Professional Sales) is one of the first to set its own code of conduct regulations, which can be applied to every sales person. Their code is not a legal document, but it does outline some key protocols and behaviour of which would do no harm for the profession to follow.
Companies and sales professionals can follow the APS template as a guide to creating their own code of conduct document. Take a look at https://www.associationofprofessionalsales.com/professional-development/sales-code-conduct-aps-ethical-professional/aps-sales-code-conduct/
Key points to consider as part of your code of conduct
The APS states “do the right things and thereby get the right results”. The code of conduct states that professionals should;
- Maintain the highest standards of integrity in all business relationships.
- Provide customers with a buying experience in which you “do the right thing and thereby get the right results”.
- Promote and protect good sales practices.
- Always act in line with my organisation’s codes and within the law.
Made up of four principles
- Integrity: being straightforward, honest and truthful in all professional and business relationships. Avoid conflicts of interest and avoid being associated with any information that you believe contains a materially false or misleading statement, or which is misleading by omission.
- Solution appropriateness: ensuring that you are configuring and selling customers solutions that are absolutely appropriate for their needs and in their best interests.
- Promote and protect good sales practices: committing to continuous development of your level of professional knowledge, skills and ability to exercise judgment. Promoting the eradication of unethical business practices, and enhancing the proficiency of the profession.
- Always act in line with my organisation’s codes and within the law: ensuring full compliance with laws and regulations and acting in the public interest. At all times also avoiding any action that could negatively affect the reputation of the profession.
Why is it important for the industry?
Consumers are aware of their rights and we must now protect ourselves and our customers against wrong doing, to avoid expensive legal cases and bad practice which had previously tainted the profession. As a result, like most professions, we are constantly facing a change in the way we practice and are open to ridicule, lawsuits and claims made against us.
As any professional, a good sales person will naturally already practice ethical behaviour, naturally following their own and companies rules, such as politeness, helpfulness and honesty.
Setting a code of conduct, or following a code of conduct, can only benefit and assist the sales industry in building its reputation for honesty and transparency. More importantly, it enforces good practice and protects consumers from wrong doing.
If you already follow the recent GDPR guidelines and have a policy, this will form part of your code of conduct. GDPR guidelines fall in line with integrity, one of the principles mentioned. It protects the user from breaches of personal data and encourages employees to deal with personal data in a professional manner.