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.

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