Other ordering or distribution methods - Sales Management

Exclusive retail stockists

Manufacturers of some specialist products (such as perfumes, cosmetics, home computers,fashion products, etc.) may not require a large sales force, but may work through a network of appointed retail outlets that have an exclusivity for distribution in an area. This is more commonly the distribution format where the product is not aimed at a mass market, but at a clearly denned niche consumer profile.

Postal orders

A system of postal orders is used to solicit business through mail order catalogues, mentioned shortly, and can also have applications in some other situations, such as where:

  • trade is basically seasonal in nature, and direct sales calls are not always justified,with the customer having the option to replenish stock with mail orders
  • customers are required to submit payment with an order
  • products are customized to a degree, and requirement details are solicited on an order form.

Postal order systems are a lot less personal than telesales contact, but they are often preferred route, or optionally combined with telephone selling, where customers need product literature in order to make informed product choices. A new order form and current catalogue can be dispatched with each order.

Direct mail campaigns

Direct mail campaigns are commonly used to promote sales direct to end users or consumers, or buyers with special interests in a product category. Their effectiveness hinges upon tightly identifying the target market group, and named individuals who should have an interest in the products. The user profile should be carefully defined, and contact researched to whatever degree is practical for a match with the target profile (possibly a mix of age, income, education, social class, residence location, employment type, etc. for consumer and household products). Target groups may be identified from directories,society membership lists, and a host of sources including mailing lists that can be purchased or leased for defined target groups.

Mail order catalogues

Mail order catalogues seem to rise and fall in popularity. They can be useful both in increasing sales of general products (such as jewellery, clothes, some household goods), and in promoting specialist products to narrow target markets (such as collectibles,stamps, seeds, hobby-related items, and soon). Their effectiveness, just as with other direct mail campaigns, is a function of the accuracy in targeting the market and the specific individuals to receive the catalogue.

Ideally purchase through a catalogue should offer the purchaser some tangible benefit over purchases at other distributive outlets to gain interest and encourage action.

The benefit may be in terms of: price advantages,a broader product range, scarcity value (collectible products) ,convenience of ordering,beneficial payment terms, additional guarantees or warranties, product trial before payment.

Computer ordering

While the comments of the previous section might apply largely to computer ordering,this is an area that sales managers and marketer swill want to be exploring for its future potential in most product categories. It lends itself to the promotion and communication of information in all product categories, industrial,commercial and consumer. As more companies promote their products and services on the computer networks, so consumers will also become more familiar with computer marketing and more comfortable with making choices and placing orders via computers.

Direct home distributors – network marketing

Over recent years a number of companies,particularly in the United States and some Asian markets, have built enormous sales volumes by achieving effective distribution, high product loyalty, and promotion by personal referral through various forms of network marketing. In some instances the distributors are self -selected, in that they apply to a company to become a distributor. In general these distributors do not receive any local franchise, but are all in competition with each other to promote through their group of contacts. Each distributor is typically product consumer also.

Network marketers promote cost-saving benefits through the shorter distribution channel, from manufacturer to final consumer without a multiplicity of middlemen. Cost savings can arise through lower sales and marketing costs, lower absorbed physical distribution costs (in that a retail product normally has physical distribution costs included in pricing structures, but a networked product frequently has the distributor paying separately for delivery), and fewer levels in the distribution chain taking profit margins.

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