Ethical Sales Pitch?

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by sellthefish, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. sellthefish

    sellthefish
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    I am currently employed as a traveling sales rep for a commercial seafood distribution company. A big part of my job is to prospect new business. My cliental is mostly chefs, but sometimes I will deal with restaurant managers or even the owners themselves - basically whomever is in charge of purchasing the seafood.

    It's a very competitive industry. It's not difficult to get a brief meeting with the prospective customer, but it is difficult to get them to see the value in my company to ultimately have them begin buying seafood from me instead of their current supplier. My pitch consists of embellishing the quality of our product, the affordability of our prices, and the capabilties of our dispatch team.

    But I want to offer more.

    Websites like foursquare and yelp.com are becoming huge components in a person's first impressions of whether or not a restaurant is worth trying. People read the general consesus of reviews of their peers and then make an assesment accordingly.

    What I want to offer to prospective customers as an added incentive to do business with me is to promote positive reviews of their restaurant via multiple different accounts on multiple different restaurant review websites (all accounts controlled by yours truly). I would rate the prospective or current customer's restaurant with 5 stars and then say something unique for the comment box like "excellent quality of the sashimi grade fish, the salmon tastes like it was just caught from the ocean and brought right to the table"!

    Now here's my big question: Is this practice of business promotion ethical?

    Especially considering that for the vast majority of these restaurants that I will entice with good reviews I will have never actually eaten at. Also, any advice or do/don'ts or the sales world that you could share with me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. Fergal

    Fergal
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    Welcome to Business Advice Forum sellthefish, thanks for joining.

    Other members might disagree with me, but personally I would not consider it ethical to write positive reviews for a restaurant that I have never eaten in. When buying from businesses myself, I prefer to deal with people who are honest and lots of your potential customers will probably feel the same way. If you offer to do something for potential customers that they consider to be dishonest, that may tarnish your reputation with them and make them wonder if you are also being dishonest in what you are telling them.

    My approach would be to try to get to know your customers and potential customers better, find out what their needs are, what they value from a supplier and then explain how what you are offering can deliver what they value.
     
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  3. Ted

    Ted
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    Hey Fish Guy….

    What competitive advantage do you offer your customers over the competition?

    Hopefully you have one.

    If you are in a “me too” business where you have no competitive advantage, then your only advantage is going to be to capitalize on your personal relationships or on the mistakes your competitors make. In that case the only way people are going to buy from you is if they are dissatisfied with their existing vendor and they happen to know you.

    If you do have a competitive advantage to offer your prospects, then you need to focus on that.

    I would not use the fake reviews as a way to build relationships as it may get those people to question your integrity as a man. You don’t want them to question that or else you won’t have a very good personal relationship.

    Instead, you want to reward the customers you do get by using your positive review as an unexpected bonus that they got just because you are a nice guy who likes to spread the word about his friend’s business. Make it a point to dine at your customers restaurants. Then once you have left an awesome review, drop them an email and let them know how much you enjoyed the meal and also that you made sure you left a great review on Yelp too or wherever.

    I wouldn’t do the multiple fake account thing though. Just give them one honest review. If the food sucks, then don’t give them a review at all.
     
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  4. smo9marketing

    smo9marketing
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    Ethics is a very personal thing.

    Everybody is going to have a different view.

    Reputation, however, is not.

    If you get a reputation of being a sell-out,

    nobody will ever again buy-in.
     
  5. sellthefish

    sellthefish
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    Thanks for the insight guys. I'm now realizing that it's better not to go through with this idea of mine. You're right, it could show prospective customers that I'm a dishonest person. Ted, I really liked your idea about looking at the reviews as more of a "reward". To actually eat there, give them some positive reviews online and then mention it to them. Great idea!
     
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