In industrial marketing, personal selling through company’s sales persons is a major toll of communication as compared to consumer marketing’s focus on advertising and sales promotion. The reasons for this is seen in the nature of cutomer’s buying decision process and also the buyer seller relationship. An individual sales/marketing manger is responsible to achieve the short-term objective of achieving sales target/goal and a long-term objective of developing an effective sales organization that maximises the opportunities for profitable sales growth over a long period.
The sales manger is required to make important decisions for developing and managing the industrial sales forces. Role/characteristic of b2b/personal selling In industrial marketing, personal selling through the company’s sales people plays a important role than consumer marketing. In other words, industrial marketing strategy is implemented mainly through the personal selling function. The ability of the selling firm to meet the needs of the buying firm is, to a large extent, communicated by the sales people.
The sales person, with the help of technical persons, offers not just a physical product but also technical assistance, ideas, and suggestions to solve the industrial customer’s problems. Thus, there are two major roles of personal selling. 1) As a part of problem solving capabilities, and 2) As a part of communication mix. 1) As a part of problem solving capabilities :- A field sales person is considered as a part of a company’s problem-solving abilities.
There are several dimensions or elements of this role. First, the sales rep has an important job to help customer to define the buying problem. He must show the customer how the purchase of particular product or services will help in solving the problem or achieving the customer objective’s. Second, important responsibility of a sales rep is to give an effective customer service. This may consists of drawing product specifications, application engineering, value analysis, installation, maintenance or repairs.
Third, responsibility is to “represent the customer at the factory or head office, marketing”. Sometimes a sales person has to “fight” for his customer with his factory or planning department so as to ensure timely delivery, or reasonable credit terms, or solving quality problems, and so on. 2) As a part of communication mix :- This means that the sales rep is responsible for conveying selling messages to potential as well as the existing customers.
He should keep them informed about products and services. He should therefore, be a good communicator. There are other elements of company’s communications mix such as advertising, direct mail, catalogues, exhibitions, and trade shows. The sales rep also has the responsibility of securing orders from customers, communicating market information on competition, market trends, and so on, in the form of sales reports to the marketing chief at head office or branch office. What makes a successful salesman?
In a study conducted, the opinion of over 3000 sales manager were analyzed on the difference in performance between their most successful salesman and their average salesmen. The questionnaire had a list if differentiating factors and the sales mangers were asked to select six factors in the order of priority or importance. The findings of the study are presented in the table below. Reasons for the difference in performance between most successful and average salesman : Differentiating factors |Ranking for repeat |Ranking for capital | | |industrial products |equipement | |Has greater product knowledge |1st |1st | |Makes a more enthusiastic presentation |2nd |2nd | |Has more ability to clinch the order |3rd |3rd | |Pays closer attention to ensuring customers receive good service |4th |4th | |Asks questions and listen more carefully |5th |5th | |Has a superior branch organisation |6th |6th | |Has better contacts within industry |7th |7th | |Answers objections better |8th |8th | |Makes a better initial impression |9th |9th | |Can atain more interviews |10th |10th |
What are the main roles of the sales force? Kotler describes six main activities of a sales force: (1) Prospecting – trying to find new customers (2) Communicating – with existing and potential customers about the product range (3) Selling – contact with the customer, answering questions and rying to close the sale (4) Servicing – providing support and service to the customer in the period up to delivery and also post-sale (5) Information gathering – obtaining information about the market to feedback into the marketing planning process (6) Allocating – in times of product shortage, the sales force may have the power to decide how available stocks are allocated What are the advantages of using personal selling as a means of promotion? Personal selling is a face-to-face activity; customers therefore obtain a relatively high degree of personal attention • The sales message can be customised to meet the needs of the customer
• The two-way nature of the sales process allows the sales team to respond directly and promptly to customer questions and concerns • Personal selling is a good way of getting across large amounts of technical or other complex product information • The face-to-face sales meeting gives the sales force chance to demonstrate the product • Frequent meetings between sales force and customer provide an opportunity to build good long-term relationships Given that there are many advantages to personal selling, why do more businesses not maintain a direct sales force? Main disadvantages of using personal selling
The main disadvantage of personal selling is the cost of employing a sales force. Sales people are expensive. In addition to the basic pay package, a business needs to provide incentives to achieve sales (typically this is based on commission and/or bonus arrangements) and the equipment to make sales calls (car, travel and subsistence costs, mobile phone etc). In addition, a sales person can only call on one customer at a time. This is not a cost-effective way of reaching a large audience.