Businesses that are serious about good customer relationships must have good ethical systems. Marketing and strategy are underlying principles that must be addressed for organizations selling abroad.
Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, maintain that customers operating in other countries pose unique ethical concerns for salespeople and management, especially in (1) cultural differences and (2) differences in corporate selling policies.
Marketing strategist Regis McKenna explains that effective marketing is the integration of the customer into the design of the product and designing a systematic process for interaction that will create substance in the relationship. Creating good ethical systems is critical for success.
First, any meaningful ethics program must start with senior management’s behavior. In fact, ethical behavior must start at the top. Salespeople are not the only members of the sales force who face ethical concerns. Management must address significant ethical issues with (a) salespeople, (b) company policies, and (c) international customers and policies. Yet, I do think organizational culture is the cornerstone for understanding the ethical environment.
Trust is the foundation of any meaningful corporate structure. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, maintain that when leaders are ineffective, chances are good that workers will not perform to their capabilities. Furthermore, senior managers should lead the way by example.
Second, the organization must evaluate the current corporate culture. There are both written and unwritten rules and behaviors that come into play. For example, Enron senior management demonstrated a lack of moral and ethical judgment, which played a critical role in its decision-making (i.e. breaking laws). Therefore, one must review the organizational culture of the organization before attempting to implement an ethics program.
Last, the organization must be committed to a win-win approach. Managers should get all employees involved. Salespeople face ethical issues all the time. Their input would be invaluable. This fact has a great bearing on ethical behavior among employees.
Companies need to have a plan for implementing ethics. However, they need to involve the workers. Typically, executives come up with a mandate on corporate policies. HR is forced to implement them. There is little worker involvement. Yet, ethical conduct impacts everyone. Therefore, managers will get greater buy-in on new programs, such as ethical, if they are involved upfront in the process.
Please discuss ethical behavior in organizations as it relates to the marketing process from your own professional experience.
© 2013 by Daryl D. Green