Does Ethical Compliance Really Make Salespeople Ethical?

28 March 2016

We have all heard the familiar argument: that companies which demand more ethical behaviour from their staff are inevitably more successful. But do those demands really make salespeople behave more ethically?

To find out, Dr Philip Squire, Professor Mark Johnston and Dr Ian Helps interviewed salespeople at different companies. One company required their salespeople to behave ethically and to sign a contract committing them to that. Another company did not require any ethical behaviour but for salespeople to do certain things, such as giving potential customers written quotes before meeting them.

The researchers found that salespeople did not consistently exhibit more ethical behaviour where they did or didn't sign a contract. But they did exhibit more ethical behaviour when the company required them to give customers written quotes before meeting them.

The researchers also interviewed managers who had direct responsibility for salespeople. The managers were divided into "enforcers and enablers." Enforcers demanded ethical behaviour from their employees. Enablers encouraged it.

The researchers found that enablers were consistently more successful than enforcers.

Ethical Compliance

This article first appeared in the November 2016 edition of the International Journal of Sales Transformation. Reproduced by permission of the International Journal of Sales Transformation. ©2016.

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