Book Review: Integrity Selling for the 21st century

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Integrity Selling for the 21st century
by Ron Willingham
Currency/Doubleday ©2003
210 pages

How to Sell the Way People Want to Buy

Integrity selling, according to sales expert Ron Willingham, is a process that is focused on the customer but satisfies both buyer and seller. In his continuing effort to remove shady deals, “bait and switch,” and other deceptive practices from the sales profession, Willingham has written Integrity Selling for the 21st Century to add a process of self-evaluation to the field that helps salespeople evaluate their own goals and personality traits and thus create more trusting and productive relationships with customers. As the founder of Integrity Systems, a leading sales and customer services training business, he has developed a system for selling that includes values and ethics in the process of identifying and filling people’s wants and needs while creating mutual value for customers and salespeople alike.

The cornerstone of Willingham’s integrity selling system is the underlying premise that customers want to do business with people they can trust. He explains that when a salesperson’s values and motives are right, and they are accompanied by the desire to help customers, then selling success can be attained. He writes that his experiences observing hundreds of unscrupulous salespeople who were taught to sell using deceptive practices have shown him that those who sold this way were so stressed by their behavior that they were often plagued by alcohol and substance abuse, divorce, job-hopping and low productivity.

Greater Customer Satisfaction

Willingham explains that he has also seen salespeople in the same industry succeed with greater customer satisfaction, profit margins and job retention when they used their training on high-integrity selling.

Integrity Selling for the 21st Century not only debunks old myths about selling, but it also demonstrates the power of Willingham’s ideas by highlighting the positive effects they have had on companies who have used them. These organizations include the North Atlantic Region of the American Red Cross, which reported a 35 percent increase in blood sales after implementing Integrity Selling, and dropped its employee turnover by 50 percent.

Willingham has broken down his Integrity Selling system into these six steps: approach, interview, demonstrate, validate, negotiate, and close. He also provides a guide to show salespeople how long they should spend on each one of these steps, and offers salespeople detailed action guides to help them practice each step.

Integrity Selling for the 21st Century begins with an exploration of these four traits of highly successful people:

1. Strong goal clarity.

2. High achievement drive.

3. Healthy emotional intelligence.

4. Excellent social skills.

Willingham explains that salespeople sell well according to the extent that they possess these traits, and the more they develop them, the more they will find their potential for the further development of their skills.

Do Only Half the Talking

One facet of the Integrity Selling system that epitomizes the balance between buyer and seller is the concept of allowing the customer to do half of the talking during a sales presentation. Willingham points out that asking questions, soliciting opinions, getting feedback, and asking for clarification must be accompanied by a healthy dose of listening. He explains that this interaction with a customer is vital in order for a salesperson to make the right impact. It also gets both seller and buyer involved in helping the buyer make the best decision.

When Willingham discusses the closing of a sale, he explains that salespeople don’t sell in the close; they close after they have sold. He writes that closing should not be seen as a strategy to win at the expense of customers, but it should be viewed as an attitude with an ethical intent. While explaining the essential steps a salesperson with integrity should take while making a close, Wellington describes the proper actions and motivations that should be considered. ~

Why We Like This Book

Willingham’s Integrity Selling system combines concepts from self-image psychology with a sales philosophy that takes into account both the needs of both the customer and the salesperson, creating a straightforward approach to selling that leaves everyone feeling that his or her needs have been met. Guided by the concept that selling creates value for customers, and grounded in serving and helping customers find the right solutions, Integrity Selling for the 21st Century puts ethics, values, honesty, trust and sincerity into the process of selling and presents strong examples that demonstrate how these concepts work to make customer-focused salespeople more successful and productive. ~

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