Code of Ethics for Sales Professionals


Share on LinkedIn

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Wartburg College students about Professional Selling. Since we’re in the business of elevating the sales profession, I jumped at the opportunity.

During the presentation, one of the students – Nathan Welsch – asked about the ethical dilemmas that arise during the course of selling.

Nathan’s question got me thinking about the ethics for the sales profession.

Sales professionals are in a unique position to influence the decisions of the people they meet. This skill, which sales trainers like those here at The Brooks Group help hone, can be used for good or bad. There’s no question that the persuasive abilities of great salespeople can become manipulative. And that’s not good.

Other professions have developed “protections.”

By way of example:

> Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath.
> Lawyers have the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
> Accountants have their Code of Ethics, too.

It’s about time to develop a Code of Sales Ethics.

Here’s my first stab (of course I’m not saying that this blog post can compete with the Hippocratic Oath, but at least it’s a start)…

  1. I will always work for the best interests of my prospects and customers.
  2. I will always fulfill my obligations to my prospects, clients, and company.
  3. I will remain loyal to prospects and clients and never use what I learn from them to advantage their competitors.
  4. I will respect my profession, my product (or service), and my company.
  5. I will always perform my duties in a professional manner.

What’s missing?

Let’s get it built and then…let’s implement it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeb Brooks
Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world's Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book "Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call" and writes for The Brooks Group's popular Sales Blog.


  1. I appreciate the sentiments of the author but if someone is unethical in sales I believe it always comes back to bite them eventually. In big ticket sales ones personal credibility is paramount and I really don’t think an unethical sales person would survive long in a company that had a high profile and they would be rooted out sooner or later. As far as protecting customers from unethical sales people, that’s what agreements and contracts are for.

  2. Hi Jeb: I admire that you’ve taken this on. Bad ethics has sunk more than one company (can you spell ENRON?). What constitutes good ethics depends on many variables, and it’s hard to define. One thing is true: however well-intentioned the written code of ethics, good ethics starts at the top.

    Asking “what is the right thing to do?” and being able to look at yourself in the mirror while you ask and answer that question can take care of most, if not all, ethical risks. Few people do it.

    You’ve taken a good first step in providing a code of conduct, but in saying “I will always work for the best interests of my prospects and customers,” you’ll find that salespeople have divided loyalties right out of the gate. Many salespeople are understandably torn. Who does the salesperson work for? What is their fiduciary responsibility to their company and to its shareholders? What happens when bonus money is on the line? When bills are due and commission is required to cover the expenses. There are many competing issues that have to be recognized, and that the formulation of good ethics is seldom a “black and white” exercise.

    There are many resources for a sales code of ethics that are available online, and many companies have developed them. Lockheed Martin is a company that has pioneered this idea.

    Two related blogs might be of interest to your readers:

    “On My Honor as a Salesperson: Why Sales Ethics Matter,”


    Can Sales Productivity, Ethics, and Shareholder Interests Coexist?


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here