Ethical sales practices
Clearly defining and communicating a code of ethics and code of conduct for selling will help your business meet its ethical selling obligations. Demonstrating ethical sales practices is good business – it helps earn the trust and loyalty of your customers and strengthens your reputation.
Developing a code of ethics
Developing a code of ethics for your business helps build a culture of ethical selling. Your code of ethics might simply be a statement of principles defining the way you operate, make decisions and treat your customers, suppliers and industry peers. For example, your code of ethics might include statements such as:
- We recognise that what we do is more important than what we say.
- We give our customers and suppliers honest, accurate information.
- We make sure our customers' purchasing decisions are based on their preference, not our pressure.
- We sell our customers' products today that will encourage them to return to us tomorrow.
- We give our suppliers every opportunity to build long-term, loyal relationships with our business.
- We compete in our market by building our own reputation, not by damaging the reputation of our competitors.
Developing a code of ethics will also help you create your own code of conduct for selling.
Developing a code of conduct for selling
Many businesses develop codes of conduct for ethical selling and train their sales staff to follow them closely. Codes of conduct are designed to:
- describe desirable and undesirable selling behaviours
- promote high standards of practice
- reduce the risk of fair trading breaches
- help staff make ethical decisions.
Writing a code of conduct
Write your code of conduct with your staff and customers in mind, clearly setting out the purpose and structure of the document.
Template for a sales code of conduct document
Your code of conduct can include the following information:
- overview – outlining why you have created the document and what it will do
- statement of business values – including your code of ethics
- ethical conduct sections
- soliciting customers – identifying appropriate steps for finding and approaching customers
- communicating with customers – stating communication principles that will guide your business's range of interactions with customers and industry
- pricing – identifying ethical approaches to product pricing
- handling complaints and conflicts – listing the principles that support your complaints handling policy and principles for resolving conflicts
- lay-by agreements – stating terms for lay-by agreements with customers
- selling methods – setting out appropriate selling steps and methods
- bills and accounts – stating your commitment to providing proof of transactions
- warranties, refunds and repairs – identifying product or service guarantees you make to your customers
- procedures for identifying and responding to code of conduct breaches
- additional information – listing contacts and sources for more information.
Remember to use examples or scenarios in describing ethical practices so that your staff understand clearly what you expect of them.
- Learn more about customer service.
- Find out about ethical ways to manage customer complaints.
- Read about how to manage online customer reviews.
- Learn good ways to resolve disputes with other businesses.
- Find out about business requirements under trade measurement laws.