Ethical Moment: Ethical Telemarketing: An Oxymoron?
When you mention telemarketing (or perhaps more properly, “teleselling”) to most people they will immediately spout off a long list of negatives- too pushy, unethical, sell products people don’t need, take advantage of customers, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, those negative perceptions have too often been true. In much of the world that kind of telemarketing is prohibited or significantly controlled and in the United States the Do Not Call Registry was created to allow consumers to “opt out” of direct telemarketing calls. Of course, not all telemarketers are unethical, but the overwhelming customer perception of unethical behavior is deeply ingrained.
However, most of this perception is based on B2C telemarketing, and in B2B telemarketing sales has a much different-much more respectable-connotation and can be very effective in reaching certain customers (especially smaller firms). Indeed many B2B companies are investing heavily in their inside salesforce, which means sales managers need to understand the ethical implications for their customers of operating this type of selling, especially when it replaces a customer’s face-to-face salesperson. As you have learned, a great deal of building a successful customer relationship is based on trust between the customer and seller. When the relationship changes from a face-to-face salesperson to an inside salesperson the company should acknowledge that, at least for some customers, questions may arise that can impact the previous level of trust between the two companies . Enlightened sales managers will proactively work to alleviate customer concerns and maintain and build on the trust in a way that enhances the relationship.
Question to Ponder:
As a customer who has been successfully serviced by a face-to-face salesperson for many years, how would you react to being told that your account will now be serviced by an inside salesperson? Would you be willing to give it a try or would you be more inclined to consider looking for another supplier? Explain your answers.