Growth of Relationship marketing - Marketing Management

Several times we have mentioned the importance and the growth ofrelationship marketing. A detailed analysis of the reasons for this development as well as the implications for the marketer are the subject. In the context of this chapter it is important to point out that one of the most important areas of marketing that relationship concepts have affected is that of personal selling and sales management.

We have highlighted the changing nature of markets and marketing and in particular increased competition and have pointed to the emergence of more co-operation and interdependence between suppliers and their customers, evidenced by the growth of strategic alliances. Discussion on this, together with developments in lean manufacturing. With greater consumer choice it is realized that customer loyalty can no longer be relied upon unless positive steps are taken by the marketer to develop and maintain such loyalty. Most marketers feel that marketing must now seek to develop customer loyalty by integrating customers into the company and trying to develop a new relationship between the company and its customers. Some believe that relationship marketing is not new and that effective marketers have always practised a relationship marketing approach (Zineldin and Phillipson19) however most are agreed that with relationship marketing there has been a fundamental shift in the role and purpose of marketing from manipulation of the customer to genuine customer orientation Lancaster20 argues that there has been a shift from a perspective that is concerned primarily with generating sales on a one-off basis to one which looks for longer-term and interactive exchanges between the company and its customers based on true partnership and sharing.

As a result of these changes there has been a realization that we must develop new approaches to customers. Today’s marketing environment requires that the marketer develop a new more cooperative approach to dealing with customers and in particular close, long-term relationships. The wider consequences of relationship marketing, but at this stage we should note the key implications of relationship marketing with regard to the process of selling. Relationship marketing requires a fundamentally different approach to selling than that found in transaction marketing. The following represents shifts in perspectives and emphasis in the sales process when a company moves towards relationship marketing:

The salesperson must take a longer-term perspective than that of simply making a one-off sale when dealing with customers.

  • Effective relationship selling requires more of a team effort, not only between individual members of the sales force but between the salesperson and other functions in the supplying company.
  • Salespersons must be proactive with customers e.g. calling or visiting customers at times other than when they think the customer is ready to place an order.
  • Salespersons must act as problem solvers rather than order takers or order winners.
  • Salespersons must act as an exchanger of information between their own company and the customer, and between the customer and their own company.
  • The emphasis must be more on levels of customer service than simply on low prices when attempting to generate sales.

All of this means that skills, attitudes and ideas of what constitutes an effective salesperson have changed. The relationship salesperson must be skilled at listening to customers and interpreting their problems. Job satisfaction and remuneration for the salesperson must be geared towards developing customer loyalty and trust rather than immediate sales. Relationship marketing is evolving and changing the nature of selling.

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