Role of the sales force - Marketing Management

Depending on the type of organization, a sales force may consist of a few salespeople with infrequent contact with customers, or many salespeople operating in a highly organized system with regular and frequent contact. The latter would apply to companies selling consumer goods like confectionery where it is necessary to have a regular, day-to-day contact. A company that constructs bridges needs fewer salespeople as there are fewer customers and it is more appropriate to have technical sales persons to negotiate contracts and resolve problems that customers may face during the construction process.

The sales force provides a flow of information to the company which needs to know what is happening ‘in the field’ to keep up with changes in demand or fashion. Personal selling is an integral part of the firm’s communication mix which is made up of non personal communication tools. Generally, personal selling is more important in organizational settings. As much as 80 per cent of the total marketing budget is spent on selling because of the necessity of a one-to-one relationship. This is because of:

  • the technical complexity of products;
  • the commercial complexity of sales negotiations;
  • the degree of commercial interdependence and interaction between the buying and selling organizations.

These factors are not present in many consumer marketing situations. Personal selling is less critical and more of the budget is spent on non-personal communications like advertising which features strongly for products such as lager, coffee and detergents. Consumer advertising attempts to ‘pull’ these goods through the distribution channel. Personal, face-to-face selling, attempts to ‘push’ goods through the channel.

Selling is the main task of the sales force, although are other tasks include:

  • obtaining information;
  • maintaining and creating goodwill;
  • building business for the future.

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