Sales Ethics Is an Oxymoron
Conversely, Sales management ethics is the specific component of business ethics that deals with ethically managing the sales function as sales manager’s priorities is to supervise the relationship bonded between the customer and a salesperson by ensuring that the relationship between the customer and salesperson is an honest one. Making the right decision can be very difficult for instance a majority of people would agree that honesty is an important ethical principle. Take in consideration an honest salesperson that have to meet ends of a looming end of month quota and is required to close one big deal to avoid falling short of the number.
Will that salesperson fall short or will he or she undertake measures which may be unethical to reach those numbers. Sales Ethics provide aid in helping to shape a beneficial outcome for the concerning parties and stakeholders. Are salespeople more unethical than anyone else? It is proven that Sales managers and salespeople are not more likely to engage in unethical practices than are people with other marketing and management jobs. In reference to (Gene R. Laczniak and Patrick E. Murphy) significant questions are needed to be answered before taking action: is it legal?
Will it infringe any regulations or laws enforced by the organisation? Does it contradict moral obligations that are specific to a certain organisation body? It is not always simple to act ethical and to oblige with the regulations denoted by the organisation. ‘It is possible to teach ethics and ethical behaviour; however can these be learnt and be easily enforced within an organisation? ’ You either are or are not (Isn’t Business Ethics an Oxymoron? 2008) Hence, some agree that sales ethics is an oxymoron.
Acting ethical can be extremely expensive; one of an organisation’s main goals is to maximise profits; if they do not meet breakeven equilibrium point whereby profits equal to costs of production; a loss is incurred dispelling them to be unfit to compete in the market. The organisation making a loss would go bankrupt and would have insufficient capital to fund any operational circumstance unless they borrow the capital from banks which can be very risky depending on the organisation’s liquidity. Striving for a 100% in ethical commitment and regulations in order to be valid is impossible to achieve.
Another aim of an organisation is to minimise costs as much as possible, acting ethical may increase costs of production creating a challenge for the company as a whole. When Salespeople are poised with the challenges that may seem impossible to achieve, giving up is the first response. On the other hand, it is not negative to strive for perfection in ethical standards; however to demand a 100% can sometimes bring about an opposite; an uncharted cause of actions that may apply pressure on the employees and stakeholders which may result in a destructive consequence.
Additionally; research conveyed that age is positively related to ethical behaviour among sales managers; older sales managers tend to make more ethical decisions and relatively high levels of relativism are associated with less ethical decision making among sales managers. Relativism demonstrates the process whereby an individual reaches moral decisions based on their actions they view to be acceptable when they provided a particular scenario. On the other hand, relatively high levels of idealism are associated with a lower likelihood of hiring a controversial job candidate.
Idealism conveys a set of principles where individuals determine morality; a set of standards expected to be abided by with no exceptions or excuses. This is an example of moral philosophy; which deals with systematic methods whereby individuals recognize and resolve decisions having moral content (Hair, J. F, Anderson, R. A, Mehta, R, and Babin, B. J. ) Businesses strive for perfection, an impossible standard which the organisation can only work towards but can never achieve; hence this is the perception viewers may argue upon business ethics being an oxymoron.
Conversely; Sales ethics is not an oxymoron because perfection is the impossible to achieve; that doesn’t mean organisations should give up; instead they should strive for the best possible solutions to the obstacles encountered. ‘These solutions aren’t always perfect, but they often represent the best we can achieve. ’ (Johannes, B. 2002) It can be difficult to apply business ethics but nobody and no organisation is perfect; striving to achieve a higher level is the best perception organisations can enact in order to reach several goals set by the organisation.
One of the most important stakeholders of sales is the customers. ‘The first sale is always the hardest’ claims (Hair, J. F, Anderson, R. A, Mehta, R, and Babin, B. J. ) if sales people do not sell their product or good, they cannot earn the income to source the needs they require such as shelter, food and water. Therefore the relationship established between the customer and the sales person is vital to the organisation’s employee and employers as a whole.
This is where a boundary spanner is introduced; someone to perform his or her job in the boundary between a company and a customer. The salespeople represent the company to the customer and the customer of the company. The sales managers have a unique role in maintain an ethical work and sales climate as it is their duty to make sure morally corrupt individuals are not employed by the firm to put a check on any system providing an incentive for immoral behaviour and are also responsible for the way the firm’s sales force treats its customers.
And most importantly; to comply with the sales ethics and standards expected by the organisation. Therefore it is essential to classify the linkage between the customer and organisational company because when making a sale to the customer as they hold certain rights and when there has been a violation of these rights; customers are entitled to claim damages because ‘Customer is always right’ Firstly, customer Vulnerability denotes a fact when customers are at some sort of disadvantage to the company.
These include: Ignorance (lack of some vital knowledge, product knowledge, needed to participate in a fair exchange) Naivete (lack of experience or the ability to conduct a transaction or negotiate terms of fair deal) Powerlessness (a lack of either competition within a marketplace or sufficient assets with which to be persuasive) (Hair, J. F, Anderson, R. A, Mehta, R, and Babin, B. J. ) Customers have the right to information and should not be provided with the disadvantages posed by the sales department because this is a breach of sales ethical standards.
Consequently, standards conveyed by the company must be enforced and clear to all the stakeholders and the company itself. A code of ethics must be established and enforced within the company; Code of Ethics expresses the values of a firm by specifying in writing specific behaviours that are consistent or inconsistent with those values. These codes must not only be adopted, they must embody the values truly epitomized by the top management sector (Rastogi, Aseem). There are 4 basic types of code of ethics: Company code that defines the ethical boundaries for employees.
Professional codes that define ethical boundaries for occupational groups such as advertisers, marketing researchers, sales representatives, doctors, lawyers, accountants. Business association codes that define ethical boundaries for people engage in the same line of business; examples include codes established by direct selling association of America and by the American Association of Advertising Agencies; advisory group codes implemented by the government agencies and other special interest groups for aid purposes.
Codes often list employee behaviours that the firm does not condone or accept. Each industry is confronted with somewhat unique ethical situations. Therefore it is extremely important to create an Ethical Work Climate which demonstrates the way employees perceive the organisation culture along with the significant code of ethics. Culture also plays a major role whereby when culture is very strong, employees will tend to share the same perceptions, on the other hand, when a culture is not as strong or identifiable, perceptions may vary considerably from one employee to another.
The organisational climate, specifically it’s the way employee’s view their work environment on moral dimensions is extremely significant in achieving the set of moral and sales ethical standards expected. Isn’t Business Ethics An Oxymoron? Personally I disagree with the statement of sales ethics being an oxymoron because it is unrealistic to impose such an unrealistic standard on businesses or anything else we do. We should examine each and every ethical policy and question ourselves how do we improve from here? Is the current code of ethics adequate enough? How is the training regime like?
Are the stakeholders being treated well enough? I do not believe that sales ethics is an oxymoron due to the fact that we are humans. We all make mistakes, everyone is not perfect; however if we strive for excellence; this is the best outcome we can possibly achieve with fantastic results. We need to extract sophisticated methods which may connect the values we seek to the business organisations; that way school of businesses and top companies are able to support the conceptual framework of continuous improvement in sales management; thus increasing effectiveness and efficiency to boost business ractices.
Even if the possible seems impossible, giving up is never an option; there is no dishonour in being less than perfect, if everyone was perfect; this world would never have existed; there is always room for improvement and everyone should strive to get better. The answer is inevitably indeed we can always strive for excellence, sales ethics is not any oxymoron, and it’s an opportunity.