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Sales ethics is an oxymoron

If one looks at the purpose of ethics/morality and the common conception of the purpose of sales, one can make a fairly good case that sales ethics is an oxymoron. Morality or ethic is incompatible if following the rules of business practices inevitably to the exclusive pursuit of self interest. The majority of large company has established code of ethics but it seems to be the case that they have failed to reinforce the message.

Based on the research by Bartlett and Preston (2000, 200), eventhough the company has code of ethics, but many employees cannot see that ethics is active in the work enviroment. If the only responsibility of business is to increase profit, it is quite sensible to claim that there is not such thing as business ethics. Given the pressure of the marketplace, the stock market, and the notion, sales manager have a fiduciary responsibility to increase profits.

Thus, there is no wonder that they will become bottom line oriented. For example, more than 30,000 people have lost their job in Jack Welch’s 17th year career as CEO at GE, earning him the nickname of “Neutron Jack” -for the bomb that destroys people but leaves buildings intact. For most

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business people, such moves have made Welch America’s premier corporate changemaster, the wunderkind of Big Business. His methods are extolled in business schools, praised by the media and copied by others (Duska 2000, 113).

In the sales division, salespeople are typically put under great pressure to increase the bottom line sales and make profits by such means as commision, quota, and other sales-force management techniques. It is very usual that they maybe led by this pressure to lie to consumers, conceal information, make unrealistic promises, disparage the competition, and oversell (pushing products to the consumer who do not needs the product). Salespeople may also be tempted to cultivate customers by offering or agreeing to pay kickbacks or outright bribes, with or without the company’s knowledge.

Since salespeople often work away from the office without close supervision, they also have the opportunity to misrepresent their work, pad their expenxe account, or otherwise cheat their employer (Boatright 2009, 275). This situation is exacerbated if the moral judgment from society accept the unethical behaviour. For instance, In Indonesia, bribery is a common act in the sales enviroment, thus to succesfully develop the sales in Indonesia, the sales division has to accept the bribery, such as give money to the client’s purchasing officer to allow her/his company buy from us.

People have long debated whether ethics contribute to profits. A frequently asked question is whether sales ethic is oxymoron or not. First, we must make clear that ethics focuses on what is good or bad from a moral perspective. Consequently, the value of ethics is not as an instrument for profits but lies in its intrinsic worth. To sum up, in the real life, sales ethic is an oxymoron. Actually, almost all of the company do the sales ethic in the eyes of public, but this sales ethic is an intrinsic to maintain its continuity and keep the long term profitability.

Providing that the company do sales ethic because of those objectives, they do not do the sales ethic since it is not the ethic’s intrinsic worth. Eventhough the company looking ethical, but it is doubtless that they still do the unethical behaviour, although it is not serious, for instance, shadow prices and excessive ads (the food is bigger and more appealing in the ads than actual). This situation is exacerbated with the acceptability of moral judgement by the public for the unethical behaviour.

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