Ever wondered why some people consistently make millions at the top of the sales ladder and others struggle to meet quota?
In this series of articles, based on 999 Legendary Selling For The 21st Century, we review the differentiators between those who consistently over achieve and those who do not. Many of these people are legends in the selling profession. This is the first article where we briefly review a key differentiator – Integrity.

Integrity is defined as honesty and soundness.

It is essential that a Sales Legend maintains an honesty at all times about who they are, what they represent, and that they be honest in all dealings with a client and within their own employer. It is of course preferable that they be honest at all times, and in all things.

Never has it been more important than in the 21st Century, with all the regulatory change in recent years, to have integrity at all levels in your work as a sales person; to declare all conflicts of interest; and to be sure that what you are selling to your client will effectively meet their business needs. It is necessary to also be aware of regulations regarding discounting.

It is important to remember, that the smallest slip in integrity (the lie that didn’t seem important at the time) can cost you everything in the end. Most importantly it can cost you your reputation.

First, we will look at personal integrity as this is the foundation of being a successful sales person. Yes, you can still sell if you are dishonest, but you will have to keep moving from client to client, from employer to employer; from region to region. A reputation damaged by dishonesty is almost impossible to repair, it is a long and hard road back to integrity.

You need to know and understand who you are, first and foremost. You must live in this person, and not try to be someone else. If you lie about your background, the school you went to, the place where you live or lived, who your parents were or are – then you are placing not only yourself at risk but also your opportunity to be a great salesperson.

Now, this does not mean that you turn every buyers’ office into a confessional – that would not be a good idea! It does mean however, that you never lie about, or try to hide, who you really are. It does not mean that you live your whole life in your suit, or never have any fun. It just means that you must always remain honest with, and about, yourself.

Personal integrity must not be confused with a right to privacy. However, you must be prepared to be open and honest if any subject is ever raised.
From your personal integrity, will be formed a large part of your reputation, and that reputation often precedes you into a sales process. You may be called by a new client because you have an excellent reputation, and you will always be respected by clients for the same reason.

If you want to be highly successful in a sales career, then it is important to be able to manage any intolerance, impatience, or prejudices that you may have. It is preferably, especially when it comes to intolerance or prejudice, that you manage them so well, you manage them right out of your space!

Prejudice and intolerance have no place in selling.

As a salesperson, you must be able to sell to a client, regardless of the colour, race, religion, level of education, disability, rating on the ‘pain in the butt’ scale, or the incompatible personal interests of your client employees and decision makers.

To be able to remain in integrity, and do this well, it is best if you can rid yourself of such judgements. If you cannot change your heart, it will be tough to remain in integrity, but then you at least must change your behaviour and demonstrate genuine tolerance. You do not have to agree with anyone else’ beliefs, to be tolerant of them.

We do have to respect customers but do not have to share the same views as they do. You must however be tolerant of their circumstances; their race and religion; their culture, customs and background; their level of stupidity, brilliance or arrogance; and even be able to remain respectful when they are unpleasant to deal with!
You do not need to approve, or condone their behaviour. You do not need to agree with their activities, religion or culture. You just have to accept it is their right, and get on with the business of finding enough common ground to connect and close your sale.

This Century is a whole new world full of regulatory traps placed everywhere in organisations to catch an unwary sales person, or their buyer, and rob them of an excellent opportunity, or possibly ruin a career and even get you, or your client decision maker fired!

In 2010, and beyond, no professional sales person should engage any longer in inappropriate behaviour with any client, at any level, ever!

Professional integrity means never accepting bribes, or gifts that are inappropriate. It also means never giving what your client may not receive. It is your responsibility to understand the regulations of your country, and the rules in both your clients’ organisation and your own. It is your responsibility to play the game within those regulatory boundaries. It also means always doing business that is honestly a good solution for your client and at a fair price to both.

As mentioned above, be very well informed of discount policies and how they can impact your partners and your clients, and ultimately you and your organisation. Breaching Discount regulations is a criminal offence similar to price fixing, or competitive agreements. Many, even senior sales people have not yet fully understood the ramifications of discounting.

If you sell from a platform of both personal and professional integrity, then you will be in a position to build a fabulous sales career, operate with a greater sense of self esteem, and show your face everywhere, at anytime without fear of repercussions, or discovery.

Author's Bio: 

Terrie Anderson has spent more than twenty years studying, speaking and coaching in legendary selling, motivation of high performance teams, and human empowerment whilst enjoying a very successful sales career.

She is the author of 999 Legendary Selling For The 21st Century, a guide to be launched on March 15, 2010 and the corporate training program.

She has worked in Senior Sales Leadership roles for some of the top companies in IT Software, Hardware and Services; Telecommunications; Manufacturing and Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Terrie has demonstrated an outstanding track record of achievement and success in her career, and has a particular passion for complex solution selling.

Terrie is a recognised authority in the areas of sales, leadership, strategy, change management and a specialist in new business and turnarounds. Terrie has repeatedly built high performance teams by motivating the people to achieve their best willingly and happily.

She is also the author of 30 Days of Inspiration, The Little Red Success Book and many articles on success, leadership and motivation. Reaching senior level management in an international corporation by age of 28, she attained Board level positions just a few years later.

She is a dynamic and passionate speaker and recognised globally for motivating sales people to over achieve.

She approaches the world with warmth, happiness and an open honesty that has won her considerable esteem. Terrie is totally committed to the practices, and philosophies, outlined in her books and continues to live them as part of her daily life.