Businesses Face Litigation When Legal Problems in Sales Crop Up
All businesses need to avoid litigation as much as possible. This is especially true with legal problems in sales that can result in costly compensation for the benefit of the plaintiff. For example, the e-commerce giant Amazon found itself liable in 2018 for selling a dog collar which was believed to cause permanent blindness for the female victim in Pennsylvania. (This was based on a ruling by the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals). Ironically, Amazon was not the manufacturer but had only sold the defective product on behalf of a third-party vendor.
Salespeople Are Not Automatically “The Bad Guy”
Although cases like that in Pennsylvania are rather extreme, they do happen. But many salespeople are actually quite ethical and sensitive to the needs of their customers. This means they go the extra mile to make sure that the products they sell do meet customer needs. It just so happens that some unethical salespeople in the past have put the selling profession in a bad light. And it is regrettable that people now see salespeople as “the bad guy” of trade.
Common Situations When Salespeople Might Compromise Ethics
One way that a salesperson can get in trouble is when a customer requests sensitive information about their competitor who happens to be the salesperson’s other customer. Another way legal problems in sales happen is when the company prohibits its salespeople from giving gifts to customers – but the salesperson sends the gifts anyway. Customers can get salespeople in trouble when they ask for freebies that salespeople aren’t ethically allowed to give. And then there are salespeople who decide to goof off during a workday, since they are basically managing their time on their own, legally. Problems like these may put the sales profession in a bad light.
Salespeople Shouldn’t Manipulate the Buyer or the Selling Process
Some salespeople manipulate buyers into buying something because they have a quota to meet. Some even lie about what their products can do or how these are used, hoping to close a sale. Unethical practices like these may end up harming the buyer and other people, as in the Pennsylvania case. Ethical salespeople do lose the trust of the public when others behave in unethical (and even illegal) ways. These salespeople just want buyers to purchase something. They don’t consider the impact on the image of other salespeople at all.
If you encounter business news that talks about salespeople in a negative light, try to keep an open mind about it though. Because many salespeople do their work honestly and ethically too. True, it will take some time to clean up the salespeople’s public image but it can be done. It will also take quite a lot of Public Relations activities to make the sales industry seem safe and free of any problems. It would also help if everyone in sales followed a common Code of Conduct to protect salespeople everywhere.
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