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What is Ethical Sales?

Picture of Corinne Thomas

Corinne Thomas

Founder & Managing Director

What is Ethical Sales?

As the world’s first ethical sales agency, we often get asked about our approach and why we chose to call ourselves ‘Ethical Sales’.

Because we don’t want to leave any questions unanswered, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to ethical sales which outlines:

  • Who are we?
  • Why do we recommend an ethical approach to selling?
  • What makes an ethical salesperson? 
  • Why is an ethical approach to sales more successful for purpose-driven businesses? 
  • Our 5 top tips for selling ethically in your business

Who are Ethical Sales?

Our mission is to take the sting out of sales so you can change the world, one customer at a time. We partner with forward-thinking businesses in order to develop highly effective sales strategies that are based on mission-driven values – not just profits. 

Our highly skilled team brings decades’ worth of expertise in sales, strategy, and account management to the table. Our expertise goes far beyond simple lead generation and conversion. 

We have a proven track record in supporting passionate entrepreneurs to develop their startup or social enterprise business, who have raised funds and are entering top-tier markets for the first time. 

An active member of the Future Leap Network of sustainable businesses, Our MD is also a contributor and leading member of the Institute of Sales Professionals, we plant trees for every new client we bring on board with Trees for Life. Always keen to do more, we are currently assessing our charitable giving strategy and carbon footprint impact as a business. 

Why do we recommend an ethical approach to selling?

We believe sales are the lifeblood of any business. When done well, it is authentic, meaningful, personalized, and human. We advocate a relationship-first approach to sales with targeted, strategic sales activities that generate real results. 

We help businesses of all shapes and sizes launch new products and services into their chosen market by targeting their specific customers. With our support, our clients can launch their offerings into the market with confidence and can celebrate sales success that aligns with their ethical values. 

Sales with ethics at its heart will generate long-term, sustainable sales for your business. This is because customers will feel valued, listened to and well looked after. They in turn recommend your business to others and you become a trusted, go-to provider of what you are an expert in. 

High churn, short-term approaches to sales may generate results quickly, but they will not last long! 

For further reading and insights into sales ethics, visit the Instiute of Sales Professionals to learn more about their FAIR Ethics programme and membership. 

What makes an ethical salesperson? 

Ethical salespeople possess a unique set of attributes. It takes a special kind of individual to succeed in sales whilst maintaining their values, particularly when they are under pressure to hit the target. 

From our own experiences, we’ve outlined the qualities that ethical salespeople have which sets them apart from the rest: 


Integrity is defined by walking the talk. This attribute builds trust and demonstrates that you are responsive, trustworthy and that a potential client’s their business is important to you.


Customer focus is the key to good customer service. It means actively listening to customers and truly understanding what they need. Don’t sell products; sell solutions. Salespeople that perform the best are committed to understanding, developing, and flexing their style depending on what their potential customer tells them. 


Respect the buyer and their time. Give them options, but do not pressure them into buying something they don’t want or need. Walk away if it is not right for them but do not cut corners on products you sell by pushing poor value services onto people just to make a sale. 


Flexibility allows you as a salesperson to support a variety of requests while maintaining the highest quality standards. Potential customers want to feel that you are flexible and willing to go the extra mile for their needs. Flexibility doesn’t mean discounting or cost-cutting however, it will ensure the prospect comes away from each interaction valuing your product or service offering more than they did before.  


A responsible person is someone who takes responsibility for their own success AND failures. They won’t pass blame in difficult situations; they will own up to mistakes and are driven to take action in every situation where needed. Great salespeople need to take responsibility and ownership of their potential clients, even when things go wrong. 


Honesty is the best policy. Be honest with your prospective customers, it will be reflected back to you in the long run and they will trust your company more. People have strong reactions to liars and if they sense that you are bending ther truth they will immediately stop trusting you. This never leads to sales – it may lead to the business having a bad reputation. 


Knowing your values will help you with your approach to sales. The values that you have affect how you act, feel, and think. In fact, value judgments are an important part of human decision-making processes. If we are aware of our own values, we are better able to understand ourselves and others, and make more accurate assessments about what makes people tick. If you can connect with your buyer on a values level you will find that is an incredibly powerful sales tool when done authentically and honestly. 

Empathy and active listening 

Be empathic towards your customers. Empathy along with active listening is a skill that requires the salesperson to be able to read the customer’s words and behavioral cues to build a full picture of their situation. This enables the salesperson to establish rapport with the customer and make them feel comfortable about sharing information about their problem. They should be made to feel they are in good hands and can trust the salesperson’s advice.

After completing all that, never compromise your honesty and integrity to close the deal. You can always win more business but trust and integrity can be irrecoverable to a business reputation. 

What makes a


Why an ethical approach to sales is more successful for purpose-driven businesses 

What type of sales approach do you respond to? Cold impersonalized emails, spammy LinkedIn messages? Robotic cold calls that do not deviate from the ‘script’? 

Or a thoughtful, sincere and relevant conversation with a real person from a credible business who has taken the time to research your business and is curious about your challenges and experiences? 

An ethical approach to sales is about building relationships, rapport and getting to know who people are before suggesting solutions.

Here’s some expert viewpoints on ethical sales approaches:

“It’s a balancing act of volume and authenticity. Linked In became a key tool in our arsenal, but we worked hard to create authenticity and added value, and show we were relevant.” – Jon Fletcher, CEO, Big Clean Switch quoted from our Virtual Sales Stories webinar

As a business, we already had a strong moral compass…..for us, it’s about creating more transparency and trust with buyers. If you end up with alignment across your business team, accounts and operations then all the conversations come from the same direction. 

There are three things I am looking for in conversations with potential clients, the sincerity of the conversation you are having, the competency of the person having the conversation and your consistency throughout the sales process. By having mission and purpose in your sales conversations, for me it is super important, as it ensures sincerity, competency and consistency’” 

Oliver Harrison, Director at Compare Your Footprint when asked about the importance of mission and purpose in sales conversations in our recent webinar. 


Our 5 top tips for selling ethically in your business 

  1. Be clear on your purpose and business mission and build this into your value proposition as a business. 
  2. Create a sales strategy that puts people first, then deliver it by setting realistic targets and aligning the business goals around them. 
  3. Adopt a highly personalized, humanistic sales approach that is tailored to your ideal customers.
  4. Train your team in ethical sales methods and values that you uphold as a business which must be reflected in their activities. Set an example and create a culture where employees know what’s expected of them and they are rewarded for living by the standards you set.
  5. Review, reflect on results and learn from them as a team. Celebrate successes and focus on learning from the failures. 

All in all 

We believe that to generate best sales results, an ethical sales approach is essential. For purpose-driven and values-led businesses it is even more important to align their core values with their sales processes. 

We’ve got lots of resources and further reading on this topic if you are interested in learning more:

The Art of Mission Driven Sales – blog

Ethical Sales Trends in 2022 – blog

Top Ten Tips for Virtual Sales Meetings – FREE Guides

Mission Driven Sales – lunch & learn webinar