Ethics, Morality and Cut Throat Sales

Ethics, Morality and Cut Throat Sales

Ethics and morality used to be used interchangeable in business. I do not believe this can or should be the current practice. Many businesses, including the DSA – Direct Sales Association have defined a Code of Ethics. Those business ethics basically say be forthcoming and not deceptive, don’t use false claims, etc.; pretty cut and dry stuff.

Yet when it comes to morality in business, some would argue that definition to be a bit subjective. But is it? Shouldn’t we all have a general sense of right and wrong? Or is it a matter of what’s right to one independent sales consultant would be highly taboo to another? If it’s not exactly illegal by company policies and procedures, does that mean anything goes in independent sales?

It’s a dog eat dog world. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s a cut-throat economy out there. True or False? First let’s take a look at what is meant by “cut-throat sales”.

According to one responder on Yahoo Answers: “If you work in a “cut throat sales” environment, it means that the reps are all either starving, lazy or greedy. They will “cut your throat” by stealing your customers/prospects the minute you turn your back.” The same responder continued, “If you have the stomach for it, you can make great money. If you have morals and ethics, you may get ulcers and stress – I did.”

Headlines of a Nov. 26, 2008 Newspaper read: “The cut-throat Christmas: Stores in price-slash frenzy as battle for shoppers gets desperate.

Most of us would agree that Cut Throat Sales is much more than being keen and aggressive – it’s more about being desperate. But does it work?

Some Direct Sales companies have a policy about territories. It’s my understanding that Mary Kay Cosmetic independent consultants are required to ask potential customers if they already have a Mary Kay consultant. If so, they must back off. Other companies have a clause that reads something like: No Territory Restrictions – There are no exclusive territories granted to anyone.

Take this scenario for example: A Direct Sales company consultant has a display set up in a local business to generate leads. A consultant from the same company also happens to patronize this business; sees the display; and still tries to infiltrate the business and make those customers and employees her own customers. Assuming there are no territory restrictions, is this practice acceptable or no? What if the second consultant is from the same company but is on a different team? Is that free enterprise or is that an immoral business practice? Does your response change at all if both consultants are on the same team?

How do you feel about this second example: A consultant attends a family celebration and gives her direct sales products as a gift. Other guests admire the item; yet the consultant who gave the gift merely responds, “I’m glad you like it.” Then within the confines of this same conversation, another guest, who also happens to be a consultant with the same company, whips out catalogs and starts a sales pitch in the middle of the family celebration, declaring, “oh I sell that too!” Morally wrong or all is fair is business? Does it matter if both of these consultants are on the same team?

Here’s my feeling on both of these situations – take what you like and discard the rest: They’re both wrong, no matter if the consultants are on the same team or not, but it makes it even more immoral if they happen to be on the same team. In the first situation, if the second consultant didn’t think to request a display first, then she should move on to another business. There are plenty of leads to go around without needed to be cut throat about it.

In the second scenario, I’m shocked and disgusted that someone would even under cut the first consultant who quietly gave the item as a gift. The second consultant did nothing but create awkwardness and cause herself to look like a real buffoon. The second consultant will self-destruct with that kind of desperate cut throat sales tactics. It does not work and it’s just plain wrong.

Here’s the rub – anyone who doesn’t see these two above examples as immorality in business probably partakes in those kinds of activities. He or she likely sees cut throat sales as the only way to be successful. My wager is that if there are temporary sales successes in this type of behavior, it’s short lived and the perpetrators will continually need to move on from company to company once bridges are burned and the self-implosion is finalized.

To those folks – I wish you well; you’re going to need it. To those direct sales independent consultants who see something fundamentally wrong with this type of activity, try not to let the choices of others consume you and steal you of your joy. Keep running your business with authenticity and integrity – you’ll soar among eagles!

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