Sales and marketing are responsible for keeping a firm alive. Of these, sales usually constitute the larger part, though not necessarily the more crucial. This is because it is the only management function that is 100 per cent responsible for generating income for the company. A business’s failure often comes from inability to generate income for its day-to-day operations, in the short- and medium run, and completed when it becomes certain to be unable to generate profit.
The sales function is where rubber meets the road. It is obvious that poor sales management effectiveness will lead, inexorably, to failure of the sales function and ultimately to the death of the firm. The foregoing underlines the importance of sales to the company. Thus you can never focus “too much” on sales management and sales effectiveness.
Let’s start by asking, “What is sales management?” The word sales management is a combination of two words – sales (selling) and management. Sales deal with the art and science of influencing the mind of another; a motive which will induce favourable action of purchase. The American Marketing Association (AMA) says, “Selling is the personal or impersonal process of assisting and or persuading a prospective customer to buy a commodity or a service or to act favourably upon an idea that has commercial significance to the seller.”
We can then agree that “sales management (or sales force administration) is the planning, direction, and control of the personal selling activities of a business unit, including recruiting, selecting, training, equipping, assigning, routing, supervising, paying and motivating as these tasks apply to the sales force.”
Sales management originally referred exclusively to the direction of the sales force. Later, the term took on broader significance in addition to the management of personal selling. Sales management means all marketing activities, including advertising, sales promotion, marketing research, physical distribution, pricing and product merchandising.
According to the AMA, sales management means “The planning, direction, and control of personal selling including recruiting, selecting equipping, assigning, routing, supervising, paying, and motivating as these tasks apply to the personal sales force”.
Sales management, according to the above definition, is the management of the salesforce. This is a personnel-type function. But sales management also
Organises the selling effort by creating a suitable organisational structure, with appropriate communication system.
Interfaces with the distribution channels, and external publics.
Provides critical inputs for key marketing decisions like budgeting, quotas and territory management.
Interfaces with other marketing functions, while the policies of these functions are being formulated.
Roles of sales management
It is therefore extremely important for organisations to develop and maintain an effective sales force, which is the role for sales managers at all levels. The sales manager is not only entrusted with managing the sales force to derive target-based sales outcomes but also performing managerial functions, comprising planning the sales efforts and organising, directing, motivating, coordinating, and controlling the sales force to achieve sales goals.
Sales management specifically contributes to achieving the marketing objectives of a firm. In fact, sales managers set their personal selling objectives and formulate the personal selling policies and strategies. They prepare the sales budget as components of marketing plans, taking in confidence the broad objectives of the marketing department.
Sales management covers planning and organising personal selling activities. It further performs sales force recruiting, selecting, training, assigning, routing, directing, motivating, remunerating, evaluating, and controlling functions of personal selling. Sales management implements the marketing plan to generate sales performance.
It is noteworthy that sales managers are involved in both the strategy (planning) and people (implementation) aspects of personal selling, as well as evaluating and controlling personal selling activities.
Sales Management is the planning of a company’s sales strategies and the hiring, training, supervision, and motivation of salesmen to carry out those strategies. As such, it is the key function of the marketing process. Without it, most companies would revert to the simplicities of a hundred years ago, when the emphasis was on manufacturing, and it was considered somewhat immoral for people to buy more than necessary to meet their daily needs.
Process of successful sales management
There are four major interrelated functional roles for successful sales management:
(1) Top level policy planning, which establishes a framework of policy within which the sales objectives of a company
(2) Line and staff operational planning, through which procedures are established in advance, to serve as a control for performance
(3) Organisation, the setting up of a structure of responsibilities and normal interrelations
(4) Administration, by which management meets planned objectives through guidance and evaluation of activity, including Sales Training, Motivation, Coordination, and Execution.
Sales management methods are conditioned by the nature of individual products or product lines, and by the channels through which selling moves. Quite dissimilar problems develop in the sale of pharmaceutical and consumer goods, for instance, and within each field there are many variations, depending upon whether sales are made to consumers or middlemen.
There is also a wide variety in personal preference among sales managers with regard to methods and techniques of organisation, motivation and planning. Thus the way in which the sales management function is organised differs from industry to industry, and even among firms selling the same type of product. Organisation becomes more and more complex as the company’s size and diversity increase. Many firms have hundreds of salesmen, and a few have thousands.
Some firms (such as those selling technical products) have sophisticated sales personnel requiring less supervision than do less sophisticated representatives (such as route salesmen).
The relative emphasis placed on order-getting versus order- taking varies among different selling jobs.
Tunde Oyeniran, a Sales/Marketing Strategist, Selling/Sales Management Trainer and Personal Sales Coach is the Lead Consultant, Ekini White Tulip Consulting Limited, Lagos. We deliver Training, Recruitment and Field Force Management Solutions .Feedback. Channels 080-2960-6103 (SMS/WhatsApp) /firstname.lastname@example.org or check out https://fb.me/EkiniWhiteTulipConsulting