Ethics and integrity in the modern sales era

Ever heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it”? The problem with that phrase is that it’s based on a lie. Quite literally “faking it”. Not sure how you do business but where I come from/was raised, we don’t take lightly to bullshit. You BS me, I can assure you that will be the last conversation we have.

And I get it. People want to inflate their experiences, both negative and positive, their knowledge or grasp of a certain topic, especially sales people. Because it will help them land a customer, help close a deal, maybe create a bigger clout for them on social media.

You see that all the time on social media. Hell there is a special subreddit called LinkedIn Lunatics for folks that exaggerate and are oblivious to the nonsense they are posting. I see it almost on a daily basis. You read something that just does not pass the smell test but folks accept it, like it, praise the author like they are the second coming of Jesus.

Does that seem normal to you? It certainly does not to me. What we are doing as a collective is creating a population of people that believes it’s ok to lie or BS others in order to gain some credibility. The whole concept is hysterical. Because if they do, they are rewarded with a higher social credit, more credibility, likes, fame, whatever you want to call it but it all starts with an incoherent understanding of credibility.

I see this quite often in sales whenever the sales rep is wanting to close a deal and the prospect is not giving them a lot of lee-way. If it’s a feature that is blocking the deal, the rep would say it’s on the “product roadmap”, if it’s pricing that is a blocker then lo and behold, my manager just offered a 30% “one-time discount” for you to avail. Sigh.

It’s so apparent that this is all BS coaxed in horseshit and it’s tiring. Problem with these approaches is that after a while everybody realizes that you are just lying to them because they have seen this game play out multiple times before. You are never going to build that feature out that you said is on the product roadmap, sure the customer may buy the product and you might close the deal, but as soon as they realize that it was an empty promise they will churn.

You might give that discount out to the prospect to close them but what you didn’t realize was that pricing wasn’t a blocker to begin with, you just didn’t do a good enough job in the discovery phase. You didn’t uncover all the pain points and the customer failed to see the full value of the product which will leave to a churn inevitability.

This right here is the consequence of spewing “alternate truths”, because it has short legs. It might get you to where you are looking to go in the short term but long term the effects are devastating.

It’s becoming more difficult by the week to know what the truth is. You see that with the news, with social media, in business practices and it’s eroding the very social fabric that we have a society. Now I’m not saying we should all become monks and never utter anything negative in our lives or not try to be strategic with our approach whether that is promoting your brand or just simply selling a product. That’s not the goal here.

I was watching Batman, the movie, the other day and some guy in there says that this town deserves a better class of criminals. Ha. I loved it. While i’m not going as far as saying folks who BS are criminals, but what I do think is that my profession, even all this nonsensical social media platforms, they all deserve a better class of influencers/people with the power to change people’s minds or ones that have a lot of social clout. I will not go down the path of social media ranting as that might take up a few hours to explain my disdain for social media. So for now, let’s stick with sales and SaaS and why ethics and integrity are critical for sales reps.

In this fast-paced world of sales, where targets loom large and competition is fierce, it’s easy to get caught up in the race to close deals. The pressure to hit targets and the fact that they reset every month is a nightmare, I know, been there done that. However, amidst all the hustle and bustle, there are two guiding principles that should never be compromised: ethics and integrity.

Ethics and integrity are the bedrock upon which successful sales relationships are built. They are the keys to unlocking long-term customer trust, fostering loyalty, and driving sustainable business growth. Let’s dive deeper into why these principles are indispensable in the realm of sales.


I trust my wife. It’s the reason why we’ve been married for the past 12 years. The foundation of any relationship starts with trust. Sure, people will sometimes buy things from you even if they don’t trust you because they might not have a better option at hand. But rest assured they will never do business with you again because they will not trust you.

Thing about trust is that it can take a lifetime to build and you can lose it within a split second. Which is why, being ethical and having integrity is not a one time act or thing. It’s a path that you choose to be on and it will carry you wherever you go in life. Especially in sales where you are dealing with people on a daily basis.

A long time ago, I promised myself that I will always tell people things straight up no matter how difficult they are. Especially as a manager, it’s your job to make sure you are being honest with the people who work with you. They depend on you, their livelihood depends on you. That’s a lot of responsibility and the least you can do is be honest with them as to where they stand.

Same goes for customers. If you want to foster a long lasting relationship with a customer(s), you need to make sure that you are being honest and upfront with them. Chances are they will respect that and be more open to making a buying decision because of that fact alone.

If you are late for the demo because you slept in, just tell them that. Don’t have to come up with BS like you were at the doctors or you got in to an accident. You forgot to send an email after the demo, it happens. Tell them that you forgot, don’t tell them you sent an email and it got frozen in the outbox. Jesus, who buys this nonsense. Just be honest folks. Shit happens, all this just makes you human and people appreciate when you are just simply honest with them. It’s refreshing.

Trust really is the only currency in sales. Customers will do business with you because they trust you. Even if your product is slightly inferior they will still go ahead with you because of the fact that they trust you. And honestly, the way business is being done nowadays, it’s a relief to see sales reps that are just straight up honest. It’s a rare pokemon.

Protecting reputation

It feels like every month there is a company that is ousted as it turns out they were blatantly lying to their customers or hustling them. It just ruins any possibility for that company to get a point where the customers will trust them 100%.

I mean until and unless you are a giant oil corporation you will be in trouble if you cross that ethical boundary. There is nothing worse then losing trust from the very customers that buy your products. You are not only shrinking your customer base and losing market share, you are creating a cycle from which few can go unscathed.

We live in an interconnected world, where information spreads rapidly through social media, online reviews, and digital platforms, reputations can be both fragile and powerful. Sales professionals and companies that prioritize ethics and integrity understand the importance of safeguarding their reputation in the digital age, recognizing that it can have a significant impact on their success and longevity in the marketplace.

Think of it like a restaurant. I never really select a restaurant to go to until I have read some reviews and seen what their rating is. If you are below 4.3, chances of me visiting that joint are slim to none. Meaning that reputation that you have plays a massive role in regards to the kind of business you will get, if you will get it at all.

Your reputation, should it be tarnished will not easily heal. Best to avoid this painstaking lesson and just be upfront with people. It’s a small cost to pay for doing business, and most importantly it’s decent.

See the thing is if you are lied to once, you will always have that doubt in your mind about whether or not that company or sales rep is telling the truth. Not a great place to be in.

Attracting talent

Yeah so this is a big one. No one wants to work for a company that has a really shady track record or past. Have you seen a company’s glassdoor reviews?

Boy are they fun to read sometime, ha. While a single review might not mean the company’s culture is bad. An array of reviews showcasing the same exact thing are definitely going to cause a lot of issues. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago where I argued that the customers nowadays are a lot more conscious and knowledgeable about what they are buying, thanks to the readily available information on the web.

It’s the same exact thing for talent. Folks know exactly where to search for things before applying for a role at a certain company. If your company’s reputation is consistently negative, you will not get a lot of folks wanting to work for your company, it makes it that much harder to find the right talent.

Sure some people still need a job and will work regardless but rest assured you can never expect them to be loyal because they know how the company they work for treats their employees.

One of the worst things a company can do is fail in their communication with their employees. Nothing burns a bridge faster than this. Not being honest or not having the best interest of the employees at heart certainly plays a big roll.

A stellar reputation by being ethical, not only attracts customers but also talent and potential business partners. Sales professionals and organizations known for their ethical practices and integrity are more appealing to top talent seeking employment opportunities and to other businesses seeking collaborative partnerships.

It also helps with attrition as well. Talent that is happy and satisfied with the company will more likely stick with the company for a longer period of time. The benefits far outweigh the cons here.

Look, I know as a society we have lost all meaning of the word integrity but just like in sales and almost every aspect of life, integrity and being ethical go a long way. You will almost always come out on the top if you are genuinely honest with the people that you work with or want to do business with.

In conclusion, ethics and integrity are not just buzzwords that sound hip. They are the guiding principles that underpin successful sales relationships. By embodying these principles in our actions and decisions, we not only drive short-term success but also lay the foundation for long-term sustainability and growth. In a world where trust is the ultimate currency, ethics and integrity are our most valuable assets. Let’s try and cherish and uphold them so we can have a better class of criminals, ah sorry people. Ha.


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