Is it unethical to change the configuration? Dilbert thinks so!

Is it unethical to change the configuration of a solution to ensure that a customer has a greater chance to be a success?

Dilbert is describing a common problem. Customers often think that an unethical salesperson is leaving things off of a bid to win the deal. The unethical strategy is to update the configuration or deployment after winning the order. This updated configuration is more expensive than the original bid, but the customer will not be successful without it.

While it is convenient to make fun of unethical salespeople for this problem, it is not always the salesperson’s fault. Frequently, it is the prospect that wrote an unrealistic or unworkable request. In this case, the lack of knowledge of the prospect significantly contributes the problem. The prospect refuses to take good advice from the professional salesperson and then complains when the salesperson refuses to accept a bad configuration for the order.

There is an old adage that the customer is always right. Unfortunately, in the world of B2B sales, the customer rarely is correct. The customer simply is not educated enough in the technology or market of the product being evaluated. In contrast, the salesperson is a professional and has gone through this process dozens if not hundreds of times. While I am not suggesting that the customer sit back and let the salesperson run amok, it may be better than an uneducated prospect leading the way.

The best solution is that the prospect learns to trust the professional and ethical salesperson. Dilbert is not the trusting sort, so I am not surprised that the salesperson took advantage of him. This lack of trust is unfortunate as sales professionals have a great deal of wisdom to offer a prospect.

While it is unethical to intentionally leave off required additional configuration items just to be the lowest priced proposal, few professional salespeople will use that strategy. Instead, it is usually a case of giving the prospect the configuration that is requested. If the salesperson tries to do the right thing, the competition may undercut the price. A much wiser approach is for the Dilberts of the world to work with their professional salesperson to make sure the request is complete and, therefore, the configuration is correct.