‘Sales ethics is an oxymoron’
Ethics is a very important and influential factor in interpersonal relationships which involve persuasion and leadership. When one has to rely and relies on the integrity and objectivity of the other person, ethics become all the more important. The correctness and incorrectness of intentions and behaviours in dealing with others, when they are encompassed with morality, are called Ethics (Boldrin and Levine 2008). According to Katalin (2005), ethical conduct involves a person observing established and accepted principles of morality of his /her own profession. Ethics provides the rationale for deciding ...view middle of the document...
The recent spate of reports about business scandals relating to incorrect furnishing of sales, excessive executive salaries and privileges and perks of top executives made ‘Business Ethics’ as hot topics of discussion. While lawyers have been accused of manipulation of jury and inflated fees, physicians were accused of prescribing certain drugs exaggerating their effectiveness under temptation from pharmaceutical companies (O’Brien and Shaffer 1994). All professions seemed to be embraced by unethical practices (Machan 2007). Marketing and sales are no exception to this and now face a number of ethical issues. Quite surprisingly, a book written by Howard Bowen way back in 1953 and titled ‘Social responsibilities of the Businessman’. The questions put forth in the book look more relevant now than ever before.
Bowen(1953), referring to different sales strategies, questions whether businessmen should be allowed to conduct selling in ways which disturbs the privacy of people like by door to door selling campaigns. He also questions whether he should be allowed to employ high pressure tactics in prompting people to buy.
There were others also who raised questions about the prevalent marketing practices. There were questions about the propriety of marketers bringing into market new models and styles of goods and inducing people to buy them while the old ones are still good and working (Hasnas 2005). The marketers were also accused of attempting to incite consumerism and materialism in the people.
The above questions raise discussions about usual marketing practices and unethical marketing practices. Researchers are also interested in finding out marketing practices which keep public interest in view and not merely try to hike their sales at the cost of public inconvenience (Lindsay, Lindsay and Irvine 1996).
The central theme of marketing concept needs to be examined to provide reasonable answers to the above questions. The essence of a popular marketing concept says that the customer should be given what he wants and the customer’s wants should not be judged (O’Dwyer and Madden 2006). The second part of the axiom leads to the questions as to what that marketer should do when the customer wants something that is not good for him and also to question what the marketer should do if the product or service while being good for the customer may not be good for the society or people around.
Regarding the first question, there are some products that some customers may wanmt to buy but are not good for their health, safety or well being. These are products like tobacco and drugs like cocaine, and LSD. Regarding the second questions practices like using Asbestos as building material, indiscriminate use of lead paints which are harmful to the society but are of interest to the individual, come to mind(Somers 2001). There are other products and services which are subjects of public discussion whether they should be given or marketed even...