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Sales ethics is an important part of business ethics and sales force's choices also could have some influences on company when facing such ethics dilemma in their daily work. In commercial practices, sales persons are always far away from normal company work environment and should work independently. When compared to other personnel, including market management personnel, researchers, advertising planners, and consumers, the sales force are more likely to face unethical dilemma (Weeks and Nantel 1992, 754). As in the boundary position of organization, sales personnel could only receive small salary but high pressure in daily trade activities. Because of job responsibilities, in order to achieve the sales target, they need to contact with customers and compete with competitors, and at that same time they would inevitably to make the ethics choices in business practices (Valentine and Barnett 2002, 191). This is the special particularity of the sales ethics. Using the sales means against business ethics, such as bribery, gift-giving and recreation to achieve the trade object, or relying on the advantages of product quality, price and delivery to accomplish the whole corporation's task, such a choice would directly affect the benefits of both sellers and customers (Román and Ruiz 2005, 444). If they prefer the unethical methods, it would play a damaged impact on the reputation and business performance of the company.
For most companies, encouraging sales personnel of ethics behavior is very important, and the corporate codes established by ethics principles to discipline the sales staff's behavior. Observing or violating these standards, the employees also receive corresponding transparent rewards and punishments measures, and through that managers could strengthen the understanding of the company's culture. Similarly, in good organization with loose and free communicated ethics climate, the sale personnel often could make the right choice when facing ethic dilemmas. Weeks and Nantel (1992, 756) discussed the relationship between company's ethics codes and sales personnel's behavior, and they found that when the sales force in ethics well-executed environment, they could be affected positively by those codes of ethics. In their questionnaire object, 94 percent of sales personnel agreed that they can understand the guidelines about employees' business ethics behavior standards, and the company's sales force are expected to get work done by providing quality products and services.
Some impacts of culture on sales ethics' evaluation
Nowadays in the enterprise training and keeping good ethics, is becoming more and more important in global economy and trade activities, but it should consider the influence of different countries or regions' cultural when evaluate ethical or unethical behavior. The sales force also has to face processing different countries' cultural diversities in the international market.
The unethical behavior of sales staff often includes bribery, gifts-giving and dishonest advertising, and cheating customers etc (Chonko and Hunt 2000, 235). And they are prohibited seriously by government, because that these wrong actions will bring injustice and corruption. The companies came from North British usually think that bribes and gift giving can not get expected orders. In the United States and Australia's research report it also pointed out that, the bribes occurs frequently in the international market as designated ethics problems (Wood 1995, 10). But there still have some countries accept such a commercial practice. These sales personnel hold that in these countries bribery is necessary. Through bribes they can smooth their relationship with local or country government, ensure goods can quickly get customs clearance or complete the transaction, strengthen competition ability in overseas market. As long as the bribery is a short-term single behavior, does not produce lasting and far-reaching influence on firm's reputation, such bribery is being allowed partially in some countries and regions.
This suggests that different international or regional culture would have remarkable influence on business ethics, and their sales ethics cognition is also different. To the same bribery, in some countries it would be thought as a wrong thing, but in other countries it is right. Most countries' companies hold the view that loyalty and trust, and integrity are widely acknowledged and acceptance as important cultural values. They consider that gaining resources through bribery or other unethical means in business activities is unfair. In trade practice, what people consider more is the products' quality, performance, service and delivery, not the incentive in unethical way. But in some countries, they thought the commercial bribery and gifts-giving is the social behavior just as one part of the business tradition, or an expression of local culture (Wood 1995, 12). In the process of business, its purpose is to seek trust and cooperation for both sellers and buyers. In order to get trust and cooperation's building, exchange gifts and gifts-giving is often a good way to choose. These countries did not strictly limit, but make it free in domestic. Therefore, multinational company's sales force and management personnel should be aware that the culture's difference. In different countries, understanding and coping with business ethics is different, they must identify and be flexible to handle (Stevenson and Bodkin 1998, 45).
The sales ethics is not an oxymoron
From above analysis, the sales ethics is not an oxymoron. Sales ethics exist widely in many companies, and should be promoted in the business practices. The perfect company's ethics mechanism requires companies to properly handle benefits of stakeholders and each social relationship. It also needs to get fair treatment of all stakeholders, and make decision-making and information highly transparent, and dare to undertake the unethical behavior responsibility, etc. For that, companies need a good deal with external relations and should construct a good faith climate for communicating ethics codes. Effective corporate governance and good performance must rely on integrity and loyalty, which are core value or ethics standards. The establishment of communicated ethics climate may improve the company competitiveness. A series of ethics rules and practices help to improve corporate governance effect, much of them are fairness, honesty, and integrity. Even a few countries and regions accept unethical sales behavior, but the mainstream of global business is to establish, maintain and implement good sales ethics.
In order to achieve the good performance of company's sales ethics guideline, it should combine various input of human and financial resource. The company must set up internal ethics codes for employees as the normal guideline. The standards themselves would not produce the moral behavior, only the strict implementation of such ethics code could promote and maintain company's ethics basis. In management level, the company's various managers and decision makers should strengthen the supervision of the implement of ethics codes. Sales ethics' maintaining could not just rely on staff's implementation to individual loyalty, but also need the managers to create and implement audit mechanism. Through copying the moral principles and training by sale manager, the sales force also need to sign the agreement after they have understood the codes of ethics (Weeks and Nantel 1992, 758). When employee appeared the actions that violated these ethics standards, supervisor should act immediately inform him and make corresponding punishment. Through above measures, it can create free communication environment, in such an environment, sales staff follow ethical guidance and improve his work's performance and satisfaction of company.
In conclusion, sales ethics is not an oxymoron. It needs each company's sales managers and employers to build and reinforce communicated ethics climate. Sales of ethical standards may cause damages to the short-term profit, but from a long-term perspective, the sales ethics should be implemented completely. Unethical business practices would make the company's reputation damaged, and even affect its future development. In order to achieve the company's sustainable development, human and financial resources must be made together to enhance the comprehensive input. Firms must strengthen the ethics supervision and try to convey to every employee and establishing the good communication atmosphere. Sales associates' performance and job satisfaction will be increased because of its positive impact from sales ethics.