The 7 guidelines of ethical selling

Aug 10, 2021 | Acquisition & Sales

How does ethical sales work? How can I sell without manipulating the other person?

Hanna Steingräber, Podcastliebe

Hanna has also recently joined the movement of ethical marketing and I’m happy that she is now also dealing with the follow-up question, which is my specialty: ethical selling. To that end, I’ve designed a complete online implementation program for learning, practicing and then implementing that with you. In this post, I would like to briefly share with you the guidelines of ethical sales that we are implementing step by step in the implementation program.

What is ethical acquisition? In Aristotle’s classical rhetoric, ethos designates one of the three types of persuasion, namely that by the authority and credibility of the speaker (moral appeal). The other two are pathos (oratorical violence and emotional appeal) and logos (consequentialism and evidentialism). But how do we apply this to ethical acquisition? Aristotle anticipates it: through our credibility.

The principles of ethical marketing have already been nicely laid down by the ethical move: no psychological tricks, no emotional manipulation. The principles of ethical sales are identical in essence. In ethical sales, the person is also the focus and the complete acquisition process is characterized by honesty, transparency, responsibility and integrity.


Here are the 7 most important guidelines for ethical selling.

Guideline #1: Focus on people

See, understand and treat your counterpart not as a potential buyer, but as an individual who has interests, i.e. needs, wishes, requirements, fears, hopes or constraints. Understand them. This can only be done by asking and listening. So ask and listen well. Practice active listening: Restate in your own words what you have understood. Ask questions.

Guideline #2: Be a real helper

Help this person to satisfy his or her interests. Be a real helper. Help your counterpart make the best decision for his or her (and not your!) needs. If your offer or solution doesn’t fit, or isn’t the best, be honest about it and make a recommendation for an alternative that would fit better to their needs.

Guideline #3: Do not manipulate

Avoid any psychological manipulation, such as artificial scarcity, artificial time pressure, emotional high pressure, fear of loss, inducing a “yes” by skilled rhetorical questions, telling half-truths, etc.

Guidelines #4: Be honest and sell with integrity

Be honest. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. Set the right expectations. (Over-) fulfill them. Never lie. Always tell the whole truth. Do not claim that your solution is the only one, because it is not true, there are always alternatives, even if your approach is “unique”, there are other, alternative approaches, with which the customer can also achieve his goal(s). Keep commitments. Explicit commitments, and implicit commitments as well.

Guideline #5: Provide transparency

Be transparent. Regarding your approach, your product and service, the process, the challenges and risks, your pricing. Communicate clearly and don’t withhold information. Talk clearly about expectations, from both sides.

Guideline #6: Take responsibility

Never wash your hands of responsibility. If you make a mistake, admit it openly, talk to your counterpart about how to fix it, ask for support and forgiveness, but whatever the answer is, bear the consequences. Take responsibility not only for yourself and your company but also for your industry: make sure that you, that you, are constantly improving, also act in the sense of your partners/competitors, in order to strengthen the entire industry through your actions.

Guideline #7: Do not discriminate

Let everyone (i.e. in a meeting) have their say, also the quiet ones, and listen to everyone. Treat each of your contacts with the same respect – not only in terms of gender, skin color, religion, but also regardless of doctorate, level of hierarchy in the organization and other characteristics.

How you implement these guidelines in your everyday life is what we practice in the Online Implementation Program Acquisition for Good Cause.


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Andrea Mörike is a bundle of energy and burns for social innovations. In her IT past she used unethical manipulation tricks in sales and felt very far away from her vision of a more sustainable economy, society and environment. Today, she is part of the sustainability movement and the ethical marketing movement, sharing her experience & expertise through coaching and training. She helps impact companies to increase their income and impact without feeling bad, because sales and acquisition can be done differently: ethically and sustainably!

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