Ethical Use of Sales Tools
The term "sales tools" includes almost everything that an agent uses to create interest in purchasing or keeping the products marketed by the agent. This includes everything from the stationery and business cards the agent uses, to advertisements he or she places, direct mail sent, personal brochures distributed, magazine and newsletter articles written, to the seminar scripts and product illustrations used in the sales presentation.
Various regulatory bodies may assign these sales tools different names -- advertisements, educational materials, invitations to inquire, invitations to purchase -- this course will refer these collectively as "sales tools". Every communication designed to influence a decision to purchase or retain a product that is seen or heard by the client or prospective client should be considered a sales tool. Although this is a broad interpretation of what a sales tools is, it may be no broader than the courts would interpret the term. The overriding sales tools ethical issue is that they convey information fairly and honestly without misleading the client.
The important points addressed in this lesson are:
The term "sales tools" includes almost everything used by the financial services agent to create interest in purchasing or keeping financial products.
Information contained on the agent's letterhead and business cards must be sufficient to identify the agent and his or her company without misleading the prospect.
Advertising and direct mail present special ethics challenges because their necessary brevity makes it impossible for them to provide full disclosure.
Personal brochures give the agent an opportunity to showcase his or her experience, education, skills and credentials but must not mislead the prospect.
Magazine articles published under the agent's name are generally designed to position him or her as an expert in the subject of the article; an ethical problem may arise if that implication is incorrect.