Sales Force

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In today's global marketplace, managers face many challenges related to fulfilling the customer's ever-changing needs and expectations. The concept of customer service has recently become more complex as a result of globalization of goods and services. Customers are now well-informed decision makers as a result of the abundance of information that is available online and in the media. In addition, today's consumer is most concerned with how a salesperson can solve basic problems and ultimately add value to a product or service. The role of sales intermediaries is now, more than ever, important to success in this new competitive global marketplace. As a result, sales managers have a new challenge of responding to this new environment with innovative techniques for managing and motivating the sales force. The following sections define general sales management terms, examine the role of a sales manager, and focus on methods used to mange, lead and motivate employees. SALES MANAGEMENT DEFINED

Sales management can be most easily defined as planning, implementing, and controlling personal contact programs designed to achieve the sales and profit objectives of the firm. Overall, sales managers are responsible for directing the firm's sales program. In carrying out this objective, a sales manager assigns territories, sets goals, and establishes training programs. In addition to setting individual goals, sales managers monitor the performance of their salespeople and continually offer direction and leadership on ways to improve their performance. The organizational structure for sales management varies depending on the firm's size and strategy. In field sales management, the structure consists of the unit manager, district manager, regional manager, general manager and vice president of sales. The unit manager is often referred to as the manager-in-training with interaction taking place at the customer level. Key responsibilities for the unit manager include training new salespeople, recruiting, selling to small accounts, and running district meetings. District managers, a step up from unit managers, have 5 to 10 years of management experience and generally manage 8 to 10 salespeople. District managers typically report to the regional manager, who is responsible for managing multiple districts in a given geographic area. The general manager is sometimes referred to the vice president of sales and marketing. This position is traditionally at the top of the sales organizational chart, with the VP of Marketing and Sales driving the sales strategy of the firm. There are distinct differences in bottom and top-level managers. The main difference is the amount of time they spend on each of their tasks. Lower-level managers spend the majority of their time on staffing, directing and monitoring salespeople. Top-level managers generally focus on planning, organizing and coordinating their sales strategy with overall corporate objectives. They also forecast sales, set objectives, develop strategies and policies, and establish budgets. SALES MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Sales managers are confronted with several challenges when designing an effective sales strategy. How should a sales force be structured? How large a sales force is needed? What methods should the sales force use to deliver their message? Strategies vary based on the number of products that the firm offers and if the firm sells to one particular type of customer versus selling to many different types of customers. When selling one product line to a single industry, with customers in many locations, a territorial sales strategy is used. With this strategy, a sales manager will assign sales representatives to exclusive territories in a given region. These representatives will sell full product lines consisting of multiple products to customers in that territory. A good example of this strategy is food equipment sales. A sales representative for a commercial food...
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