"The one weird trick that local singles in your area are using to make $10,000 dollars a month by losing weight fast."
If any of that scam-y sales copy sounded familiar, you probably saw it in a sketchy ad or website.
We all want to think that we can spot a swindle like that from a mile away. We recognize all the usual suspects: the too-good-to-be-true promises, vague guarantees, and aggressive sales tactics.
But people continue to fall for scams and other sketchy sales rackets every year.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, the number of fraud reports made in 2017 was more than eight times higher than in 2001. Total reported losses due to fraud in 2017 reached nearly a BILLION dollars.
As a sales manager, these numbers should be concerning. They’re part of the reason a recent survey of B2B buyers found that a full 60 percent question the integrity of sales reps. Every snake-oil-salesman-type out there makes it harder for your honest, helpful salespeople to get through to buyers and earn their trust.
How can you spot a shady salesperson and keep them off your team? Look to the past. How can you keep your sales team on the sales straight and narrow? Look to the future.
Sales, scams, and trust in 2019
As Hubspot’s 2016 research indicates, sales is one of the least-trusted professions out there, with just three percent of people considering salespeople trustworthy.
Salespeople are tied in trustworthiness with investment bankers and come out just slightly ahead of stockbrokers, politicians, and lobbyists.
How did sales get here, relegated to the basement of public trust?
Well, when you think of a stereotypical ‘sleazy salesperson’, what image springs to mind?
Maybe an old-timey travelling salesman, twirling his impressive moustache as he bilks the townspeople out of their hard-earned money.
The Snake-oil Salesman
“My product can cure anything that ails you!”
Or maybe a used-car dealer in his loud polyester suit, full of pushy charm and aggressive sales tactics.
The Stereotypical Used-Car Salesman
“What can I do to get you in this car today?”
Today’s scamming salespeople aren’t quite as easy to pick out of a crowd, but they’re still there, still hiding behind too-good-to-be-true promises and, now, the anonymity of the internet.
The Fyre Starters
“Click the link in my bio! Sorry, not sorry!”
How do you keep sleazy salespeople off your team? Watch out for the warning signs.
How can a sales manager reinforce ethical behaviour?
Some areas to monitor for sleazy sales tactics:
With 42% of salespeople citing establishing urgency as the biggest obstacle they face today, it’s easy to see why so many do it wrong.
It’s fine to impose deadlines or inspire that FOMO, but make sure it’s true and your sales reps are prepared to back it up. Will the deal really be gone forever if the prospect doesn’t sign within the next 10 minutes? Unlikely.
Only 17% of sales reps think they’re pushy, but half of all prospects think the same.
Make sure your sales reps are reaching out to create relationships, not just to hit numbers.
It’s no wonder sales reps use testimonials, case studies, and reviews: 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a review.
However, testimonials need to be trustworthy in order to have sway. Make sure any case studies your team provides are clearly attributed to clients and customers. Point prospects to reputable user review sites like G2 Crowd.
35% of sales reps say price objections are the biggest challenge they face. Why would your reps make it harder for themselves by raising objections faster than the lead does? It looks sketchy: “I know this sounds like a pyramid scheme but you’d be your own boss!”
It’s reasonable to bring up common objections you know will be on prospects’ minds. Like security, if you’re selling business software or certifications if you’re selling a food product. These are big things that will be top of mind for any prospective customer and knowing will set their mind at ease.
How you talk about the competition
68% of B2B buyers prefer to research solutions online, without sales help. Prospects will often ask how your product or service compares to that of another company. Know that they’ve likely already done a comparison online.
They’re mostly looking to see how your sales reps handle this question. Have integrity. Hit your product or service highlights without exaggeration and without putting down your competitor. Differentiate based on value and features, not fear.
6 Ways to Sleaze-Proof Your Sales Team
Concentrate on helping
No fast-talking or dirty psychological tricks here. Your sales reps should be focused on trying to help the buyer find solutions.
Lots of people want to buy but few want to be sold. Review sales calls and demos to make sure your salespeople listen more than they talk.
Provide your sales team with strategic content they can use to educate your prospects. Ensure that your sales reps are focused on educating and inspiring, not just selling.
Be prepared to walk away
Have your team sell based on fit and make sure they know they can say no to prospects if it’s not a good fit. Don’t try to force it—that usually leads to unsatisfied customers and increased churn.
Give them an ‘out’
If your sales team has done the selling part right, customers are unlikely to cancel or ask for a refund. But offering that kind of guarantee provides peace of mind that your salespeople and company won’t disappear on them once the deal is done.
Go all in on successful customer experiences
Under-promise and over-deliver, not vice versa.
Check out our fact-packed infographic below for more advice on how to sleaze-proof your sales team.