Sales Force

Topics: Sales, Marketing / Pages: 27 (6637 words) / Published: Sep 2nd, 2013
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The organization and goals of a sales force have to change as businesses start up, grow, mature, and decline.

Match Your Sales Force Structure to Your Business Life Cycle by Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer

Reprint R0607F

The organization and goals of a sales force have to change as businesses start up, grow, mature, and decline.

Match Your Sales Force Structure to Your Business Life Cycle by Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer

COPYRIGHT © 2006 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Smart bicycle-racing teams match their strategies to the stages of a race in order to win. In the flat stretches, team members take turns riding in front because it’s easier for the team leader to pedal when someone ahead is cutting the wind. In the mountains, some riders make the task easier for the leader by setting the pace and by choosing the best line of ascent. In the time trials, a few team members maintain steady speeds over long distances to lower the team’s average finishing time. Talent always matters, but in most races, the way teams deploy talent over time, in different formations in different contexts, makes the difference between winning and losing. That’s a lesson sales leaders must learn. Although companies devote considerable time and money to managing their sales forces, few focus much thought on how the sales force needs to change over the life cycle of a product or a business. However, shifts in the sales force’s structure are essential if a company wants to keep winning the race for customers. Specifically, companies must alter four factors

over time: the roles that the sales force and selling partners play; the size of the sales force; the sales force’s degree of specialization; and how salespeople apportion their efforts among different customers, products, and activities. These variables are critical because they determine how quickly sales forces

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