In general, timing is a crucial feature of the selling process. Personal selling and service at the
right time, the time the customer is making a choice or reordering, is crucial. Personal selling and
service at a time when they are not is a waste of effort and frustrating for both buyer and seller. As
with all marketing efforts, personal selling is all about getting the process right.
1. Sales Objectives
When you think about it, a lot of selling is done in marketing. A new product or service must always go
through several selling efforts. First, it must be personally sold to investors or senior executives. Then it
has to be personally sold to production and the salesforce. Only then does the salesforce get the chance to
personally sell the product to distributors, retailers, or end users. If the salesforce is not sold on the
potential of the new product, then you are dead in the water!
Distributors and retailers, in turn, have to sell the idea of buying the product to their customers. Often,
buyers even have to sell the idea of buying the product or service to their immediate superiors in the buying
organization! So, moving a new product or service from idea to production and final usage involves a lot of
change management through personal selling, both inside and outside the organization.
Personal selling involves much more than making a sale. Good salespeople know more about their slice of
the marketplace than anyone else in the company. They know networks of customers and distributors on a
personal level and are constantly crossing paths with the competition. More than anyone else in the firm,
their livelihood often depends on their personal ability to change the way both the marketplace and their
firm think about the products and services they must sell. During the selling process, the customers
questions or objections may suggest changes that will greatly improve the competitiveness of the offering.
Salespeople also may recognize design problems not anticipated by the inventor or producer. In short,
salespeople are the change agents in the marketplace. They hasten the adoption and diffusion of new
innovations and the adaptation of their company to market realities. They also often have to unravel the
marketing mistakes made by others.
Salespeople are pioneers and problem solvers, front line change agents and market creators, and innovation
diffusers par excellence. Economic theory loves good salespeople. They make markets efficient. It is a
different view of selling than that portrayed in Arthur Millers multi-award-winning 1949 play Death of a
www.notesolution.com Salesman where everything in sales is unprincipled exploitation and you lose your soul doing it! Personal
selling is the most expensive and powerful communication strategy a marketer can employ. The basic
objectives of personal selling are:
1. To keep a current customer happy and loyal, particularly highly profitable customers.
2. To persuade a current customer to buy more.
3. To persuade a potential customer to buy a new product or service.
4. To feed back ideas on customer needs, improved product positioning, and the success of company
and competitor marketing tactics.
The most important objective of the salesforce is to help achieve the financial and marketing goals. For
example, if the firms primary goal and strategy is to build market share in a particular market segment,
then the primary sales tasks will be sales prospecting, supplying high levels of service, and providing
feedback from the market segment. If the objective is to protect and develop existing business, salespeople
should spend more service time with existing accounts, particularly those that appear to have been targeted
by competitors. When a company has the dual objectives of developing new business and expanding its
existing business, it often employs separate, highly-skilled developmental salespeople to achieve its first
objective and a regular customer support salesforce to achieve its second objective. Advertising agencies,
for instance, often use a new-business salesforce to identify and develop clients and then assign an account
team to service the client and maintain a productive relationship between the client and the agency.
Some salesforces spend all of their time selling to distributors. An important objective of such a salesforce
is to motivate the distributor, implement various selling programs, and maintain service levels. On
important accounts, these trade salespeople often make calls on a distributors customer to help develop
new business or handle specific usage and service problems. A salesforce that calls on retail accounts often
has the multiple objectives of introducing new product lines, making sure merchandising displays are put in
place, increasing the amount and quality of shelf space given to their product, and encouraging the account
to cooperate with promotion programs. As discussed in Module 5, the customer focus chapter, these are
increasingly becoming team-managed activities where the major national retail account is treated as a
marketing channel segment that needs to be team managed.
Typical functions of a field salesforce
A list of some of the varied activities that field salespeople may undertake in a day is given in the table
below. Note that much of a salespersons time is spent not in contact with the customer. A company
considers salesforce efficiency to be very high if salespeople spend 50 percent or more of their time
actually selling. Additionally, high-performing salespeople often go beyond typical functions in ways that
increase their sales and their efficiency. For instance, the list does not include creative activities such as
buying a gift for a customers secretary who has been helpful or writing a spreadsheet program to monitor
expenses. Yet these types of activities can help a good salesperson become a super salesperson.
www.notesolution.com What we observe is that each industry has evolved a set of expectations about which functions field
salespeople should perform and how they should interact with customers. For example, a computer
salesperson is likely to take an audit of customer needs, suggest and sell a system, install it, train users,
upgrade the system, and handle any service problems. In other industries, technical service specialists may
undertake these functions. This is not to suggest that an enterprising firm cannot go counter to industry
conventions and change the roles and responsibilities of its salesforce to give it a new competitive edge.