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Products and Services
By Jae K Shim
Global Professional Publishing LtdCopyright © 2012 Jae K Shim
All rights reserved.
Sales Management and Selling: Its Development and Role in American Society
Sales management is concerned with all activities, processes and decisions involved in managing the sales function in an organization. It involves planning the selling program and implementing and controlling the personal selling effort of the firm. Sales Management in the Twenty-First Century is characterized by
* Innovation fuels success in selling today.
* Sales effectiveness is enhanced through technology. Sales management must be smart and nimble and provide technology-centered solutions to support the sales effort.
* Leadership is a key component in sales management success.
* Sales management is a global endeavor.
* Ethics underlies all selling and sales management activities.
* Social media marketing comes of age.
The applications of personal selling
The Definitions Committee of the American Marketing Association defines selling as "the personal or impersonal process of assisting and/or persuading a prospective customer to buy a commodity or service or to act favorably upon an idea that has commercial significance to the seller." However, in actual practice, the applications of salesmanship are much broader in scope, for it is an activity which permeates almost every avenue of human endeavor. The ability to convince people is a necessary skill for lawyers, teachers, ministers, politicians, and many others. It is a skill used by the doctor when she attempts to convince her patient that she should stop smoking; or a skill used by a mother when she explains to her young son that stealing is wrong. Actually, then, personal selling is the ability to influence and convince others, and we practice it almost every day.
Scope and significance of personal selling and sales management
Personal selling is a useful vehicle for communicating with present and potential buyers.
Nature of Personal Selling and Sales Management
* Personal selling involves the two-way flow of communication between a buyer and seller, often in a face-to-face encounter, designed to influence a person's or group's purchase decision.
* Personal selling also occurs by telephone, through video teleconferencing, and the Internet between buyers and sellers.
* The tasks involved in managing personal selling include: (1) setting objectives; (2) organizing the sales force; (3) recruiting, selecting, training, and compensating salespeople; and (4) evaluating the performance of individual salespeople.
Personal Selling in Marketing
* Salespeople match company interests with customer needs to satisfy both parties in the exchange process.
* Salespeople represent what a company is or attempts to be and are often the only personal contact a customer has with the firm.
* Personal selling may play a dominant role in a firm's marketing program if a firm uses a push marketing strategy.
Creating Customer Value through Salespeople: Relationship and Partnership Selling
Salespeople can create customer value in many ways:
1. Identifying creative solutions to customer problems.
2. Easing the customer buying process.
3. Following through after the sale.
Relationship selling is the practice of building ties to customers based on a salesperson's attention and commitment to customer needs over time. It:
1. Involves mutual respect and trust among buyers and sellers.
2. Focuses on creating long-term customers, not one-time sales.
Partnership selling (or enterprise selling) is the practice whereby buyers and sellers combine their expertise and resources to create customized solutions, commit to joint planning, and share customer, competitive, and company information for their mutual benefit, and ultimately the customer. It:
1. Relies on cross-functional business specialists who apply their knowledge and expertise to achieve higher productivity, lower cost, and greater customer value.
2. Complements supplier and channel partnering.
Relationship and partnership selling represent another dimension of customer relationship management (CRM).
The contributions of selling
Personal selling plays an important role in our lives. Among its functions in, and contributions to, our business and economic system are the following:
1. It has helped make the United States one of the most productive economies in the world.
2. It has given our country the highest standard of living in the world.
3. It is the major objective of every business enterprise and the only function that generates direct revenue and profits. In this sense, then, it is the heart of our business economy.
4. It helps to maintain the spirit of competition, which is the basis for a free enterprise system.
5. In today's mass society, "the world will not beat a path to your door," and selling becomes the bridge for introducing new products and services.
6. When a new product or service is introduced by a competitive firm, a company offering an established product or service will often rely on improved salesmanship to retain its share of the market.
New concepts in selling
Our economy has shifted from a "manufacturing-oriented" economy to a "marketing-oriented' economy. This means that we generally do not first design and manufacture a product and then decide how to market or sell it. Instead, we first carefully study the marketplace to determine what the consumer needs and wants. Selling and promotional strategies are also determined, and then the product is designed and manufactured in accordance with these factors. In applying this concept, the function of selling becomes more important in the total business environment and involves a greater degree of coordination with the other business functions.
Each year more and more companies are operating on the basis of this "marketing concept." Those who adopt this marking approach make important changes in their methods, usually with improved results. They focus on satisfying the consumer, but they also zero in on the accomplishment of the company's objectives - increased sales volume, larger share of the market, but above all, if the company is to survive, adequate profits. All aspects of the business are integrated to achieve these goals. No longer is production allowed to become an end in itself or to dominate company polices.
In short, the marketing concept envisions a total system of operation in which satisfying the consumer leads to profitable sales. Satisfying the consumer is the means of achieving long-run as well as immediate profits. The customer, then, becomes the pivot supporting all the activities of the business. Implementation of this philosophy requires teamwork by all those in marketing research, product planning, sales forecasting, advertising, selling, physical distribution, sales analysis and control, and other related marketing activities. Selling plays a key role in this combined effort because a customer is not satisfied nor is a profit made until the product or service is actually sold.
Business today is also influenced by more competition, both domestically and from abroad. There are more rigid cost controls, and more and better information is now available regarding the products and services we buy—particularly over the Internet. Furthermore, labor, material, and operating costs have greatly increased, and profit margins are therefore narrower. All of these conditions have made the work of the salesperson more important and complex. Accordingly, selling today requires more knowledge and skill.
The modern salesperson must not only be skillful in selling her product or service but must also be able to show the individual customer how to use the product or service in solving her particular needs or problems. If she sells a product to a merchant, she may also be required to show the merchant how to retail the product and be prepared to advise her on activities ranging from choosing a store location to developing inventory methods, preparing advertising, analyzing consumer behavior, setting prices, and others. With this expansion in the activities of selling, the modern salesperson of today must be knowledgeable in many areas of business and be capable of adjusting to a multitude of varying circumstances.
Is salesmanship an art or a science?
To qualify as a science in the strictest sense, salesmanship would have to make greater use than it does of the "scientific method."This method proceeds in definite stages: first, data is gathered through observation; second, hypotheses are formulated through inductive reasoning; and third, the hypotheses are tested through further observation and controlled experiment. In science, the several variables involved in the experiment can be controlled, and the experiment will always produce the same result under the same conditions no matter when, where or by whom performed. For example, chemistry is a science in this sense because all the variables such as compounds, weight, and temperatures can be controlled with exact preciseness. Consequently, an experiment can be conducted today, tomorrow, next year, or even a hundred years from now and the same results can be obtained.
However, in selling, the several variables affecting the sale, such as customer behavior, competitive activity, the weather, and general economic conditions, cannot be controlled. Furthermore, each customer is different from all others in some way. Hence, each sales situation is uniquely different, and the salesperson's approach must be varied according to the specific circumstance that prevails in each case. For these reasons, selling is not a science and will remain an art as long as there are varying circumstances and individual differences. But, this does not mean that the salesperson can be careless and lackadaisical in her approach to selling. On the contrary, the varied and ever-changing circumstances make it all the more necessary for her to be alert and well organized.
Must you be a born salesperson or can salesmanship be taught and learned?
Some people still believe that in order to be a success in selling one must have a magnetic personality, a silver tongue, and a firm handshake. It is true that a person who possesses these qualities will certainly have the edge over one who does not. However, to say that you must be born with a certain set of traits to succeed in selling is as ridiculous as saying that you are born a lawyer, a doctor, or a minister. All of these professions had to be mastered through years of study and training. Salesmanship can also be mastered. But to be successful with it, you must be able to discipline yourself and constantly strive to improve your performance.
Indicate whether each of the following statements "is true or false
1. If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.
2. The United States has shifted from a "manufacturing-oriented" economy to a "marketing-oriented" economy.
3. Through careful analysis of the market and years of practice, salesmanship has become a science in the strict sense of the word.
4. People who lack the natural skills of a born salesperson may learn these skills by studying and practicing.
1. False. In today's mass society, the makers and users of new products and services are widely separated, and selling is the bridge that brings buyers and sellers together.
2. True. Today in the United States, firms first determine consumer wants and needs and then they produce what is desired. Further, selling must be coordinated with other business functions to solve customer needs.
3. False. Selling is an art, because each sales situation is uniquely different and the salesperson's approach must vary according to the circumstances.
4. True. Salesmanship can be learned, but one must discipline oneself to study and practice so that one may improve her performance.CHAPTER 2
The Salesperson's Responsibilities and Qualifications
Successful selling does not end with getting the initial order; it builds volume by generating repeat orders that continue as long as the customer has a need for the product or service the salesperson is selling. From this standpoint, the major objective of selling is to serve and satisfy the buyer. Outwitting the customer and putting something over on her for the sake of earning a commission is detrimental not only to the buyer but also to the salesperson and her company as well. Such a sale creates a dissatisfied buyer; and if she is dissatisfied, there will be no repeat business. Selling today, therefore, emphasizes an approach, which is genuinely "buyer oriented" and it begins and continues by fulfilling the customer's particular needs and wants.
Her responsibility to the company
The salesperson also has important responsibilities to her company. In many cases, she is the only contact the buyer has with the company, and, therefore, becomes responsible for projecting the corporate image. She is also responsible for selling the product or service at a profit for the company. If she sells a product which pleases the buyer and earns her a commission but does not result in a profit for the company, she will not be a successful salesperson. A company must make a profit if it is to continue in business.
In addition to her selling duties, a salesperson is responsible for filling out orders, completing reports, collecting market information in the field, and following through on customer service and complaints. Her responsibilities to the company then are fourfold:
a) She must do everything she can do to project a favorable image.
b) She must sell in such a manner as to produce reasonable profits for her company.
c) She must provide the company with reports and other related information.
d) She must follow through on customer service and complaints.
Qualifications for selling
The qualifications necessary for successful selling will vary with the type of product or service being sold. For example, the salesperson who sells industrial equipment must know a great deal about designing, mechanical engineering, and current research in the field. On the other hand, the product knowledge and degree of preparation is less complex for the counter saleslady who sells handkerchiefs. Furthermore, although much has been written on this subject, no two companies will completely agree on the ranking of desirable traits necessary for successful selling. Nonetheless, the traits or characteristics discussed in the remainder of this chapter frequently are listed and certainly will help a person to be more effective salesperson.
Indicate whether each of the following statements "is true or false
1. The primary concern of a salesperson is to get the initial order by "putting over a deal."
2. Salespeople should only be concerned with selling products which please customers and not be concerned with corporate profits.
3. Salespeople have other duties to the company besides selling goods and services at a profit.
4. There are certain traits or characteristics that will help any salesperson to be more effective.
1. False. Successful selling means getting the initial order and continuing repeat sales by being "buyer oriented" and creating satisfied buyers.
2. False. Salespeople are responsible for selling products and services at a profit for the company; or else the company might go out of business.
3. True. In addition to their sales duties, salespeople must project a favorable image for the firm, provide reports and other information, and follow through on customer service and complaints.
4. True. Although no two companies agree on the ranking of desirable traits for salespeople, there are some traits or characteristics that are discussed most frequently as being helpful.
The first requirement for successful selling is product knowledge. The salesperson is responsible for explaining the benefits and uses of her product or service, showing how it fulfills or solves the prospect's needs or problems, and answering the prospect's questions and objections. If she is poorly prepared or inadequately informed about her product, she will do a poor job in meeting these responsibilities. It will also impair her ability to gain the prospect's respect and confidence. Hence, successful selling begins with product knowledge. The salesperson needs to know something about the history and organization of the company; how the product is made; its benefits and uses; how it compares with competitor products; and how to operate, maintain, or care for it. She should be well informed as to prices: different sizes, styles, or models; payment methods; shipping or delivery procedures; guarantees and warranties; and service and adjustment polices.
Selling is not an occupation that is completely devoid of tension, frustration, and insecurity. On top of this, a sufficient number of social and economic problems plague our society to drive almost anyone to the brink of despair. However, if we approach our problems with a negative or defeatist attitude, we generally are licked at the start. Our attitude determines our behavior; and our behavior, in turn, will determine our performance. In practice, "a positive attitude" means to minimize worry about problems and to concentrate on ways and means to solve them. It means to be optimistic rather than pessimistic. If the salesperson is to make the prospect positive minded about her product or service, she herself must possess and manifest this feeling.
Excerpted from Sales Management by Jae K Shim. Copyright © 2012 Jae K Shim. Excerpted by permission of Global Professional Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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