⒈ Ethics In Sales And Marketing

Thursday, September 23, 2021 4:22:17 AM

Ethics In Sales And Marketing

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Ethics in Sales management - Explained with examples and case study

Many of the most common situations you could face as a salesperson involve issues such as the following:. In the first issue, a customer owns the information about their business. In many instances, a buyer may ask the seller to sign a nondisclosure agreement because, in order to serve the buyer, the seller will gain access to important private information about that buyer. In the second issue, the concern is whether the gift is so extravagant that it is considered a bribe. In some companies, such as IBM and Walmart, buyers are not allowed to accept so much as a free cup of coffee from a seller. Many buyers would question the motives of a salesperson giving too large a gift. The third issue is tough for salespeople because there are two factors involved: a possible violation of company policy and providing an unfair advantage to one customer.

Customers may not know that their special request could get the salesperson in trouble and the request may be reasonable, just against company policy. In that instance, the salesperson should not follow through on the request, though it might make sense to see if the policy can be changed. The second factor, though, is a bit more difficult because the request can be unfair to other customers, and may cause legal problems. As long as the special request can be provided to anyone who asks for it, no law is broken.

What if the special request is for a discount? Pricing discrimination laws could come into play if such a discount is not made available to all who ask. Then the salesperson may get a reputation for being untrustworthy. In the final issue, the question is whether the salesperson is cheating the company out of time and effort. Some argue that a salesperson who is paid straight commission paid by the sale is not stealing anything from the company, but others argue that even in that instance, the company is being deprived of possible sales that would be gained if the salesperson was working. Even though it is a beautiful day for golf, a salesperson who takes time away from the job is stealing time from the company, and losing sales opportunities as well.

Taking a customer to play may be a different story; such a game may be a time to strengthen a relationship, as long as the customer does not feel manipulated or obligated. These are not the only issues that salespeople face. In the United States, two basic principles of business are that everyone should have an equal opportunity to earn business, and the customer remains free to make a choice.

However, as mentioned earlier, salespeople tend to be ethical people. The use of manipulative sales tactics is actually pretty rare. Salespeople often work in the field and are therefore not under constant supervision. Even inside salespeople may be able to get away with less than ethical behavior as no supervisor can watch or hear everything. So how do companies manage ethical practices? Good ethical policies not only list or describe appropriate and inappropriate behaviors; they also describe the underlying principles. Not all ethical dilemmas can be listed in a policy, so by detailing the principles and values that make up the reasoning behind the policies, salespeople and sales managers will be more prepared to respond appropriately.

Codes of ethics, or ethics policies, can be pretty detailed. A good second step is to train all salespeople and sales managers on the policy. One reason for such training is to secure greater support and application of the policy, but another reason is that, should a salesperson engage in an unethical or illegal activity, the company is protected. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines FSG were first developed in and then updated in , and specify what happens to companies when employees commit breaches of ethics.

Companies that have solid policies and train all employees on those policies can, rightfully under the FSG, claim that any unethical employee was acting against company policies and on his or her own, should anyone file charges against the company. Solid policies and employee training can then be used as a defense against such charges, and the company would not be held liable. Yet training alone is insufficient. The company must also enforce the policy and have procedures in place that make enforcement possible. For example, a company should have a mechanism for reporting unethical activity in a way that protects the person making the report.

Many companies have anonymous message boxes that enable an employee to report unethical activity. One similar and common practice is to have an ethics office, charged with investigating any complaints. The FSG requires that companies also have internal auditing procedures to ensure that misconduct can be detected. Note that these codes of ethics, the FSG, and the policies and procedures affect all employees. These were not created just because of salespeople.

Marketers have faced ethics challenges in how claims are made in advertising, while supply chain managers have encountered dilemmas in dealing ethically with vendors. Managers, in any area of the firm, encounter challenges regarding equal opportunity and creating an appropriately professional work environment. Sales managers face the same challenges in managing salespeople that all managers face. These include ensuring that hiring, compensation, and other management practices are not discriminatory; that sexual harassment finds no home in the workplace; and that employees are treated with dignity and respect.

Other challenges may arise, though. For example, salespeople have to be in front of customers when customers are available. So should a sales manager schedule all training sessions on weekends, when buyers are at home and not available for sales calls? Does the answer to that question change if the salesperson is paid a salary or a commission? Recently, one sales manager reported a customer who said he did not want Muslims calling on him. There is competition for resources, customers and price etc, which breeds ground for activities that may not get ethical sanctions.

A certain code of conduct, policies and practices called ethics are required to manage markets and marketing. Marketing is the heart of all businesses and all other functions depend upon the same for keeping the business moving. It is one business function that interacts the most with markets, in fact markets are meant to sell and they exist only when they sell! In such a scenario there are bound to be multiple players and a clash is inevitable.

Such clash leads to malpractices like hoarding, price competitions, brand wars and use of unfair tactics, which is precisely where marketing ethics come into play. Simply put, ethics means principle or values by which marketing ought to be conducted in the market place. Logically also when there are huge number of transactions involved, a certain code or guiding principles are required to ensure that operations and industry competitiveness is fair and beneficial to the end user.

There are different philosophies or schools of thought for ethics in marketing, one is the political philosophy and the other is the transaction focused. Whereas one school of thought says that all marketing efforts should be focused on maximizing the shareholder value and that this is the only marketing ethics; the other believes that that marketing and market is equally responsible to consumers, other stake holders and the shareholders. The tactic of targeting targeted segments, creating needs that were inexistent till now, transparency about the source of labor and environmental risks, transparency about the use of source and the ingredients, appropriate labeling, mentioning associated health risks, advertising jurisprudence and not making false promises fall within the ambit of marketing ethics.

Lots of marketing and promotion was carried out for goods and services that were not a need till yesterday and only a luxury. Today cell phones have become a need and a status symbol! These are issues that are being discussed in marketing ethics nowadays.

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