A sale is an integral part of any business venture. It is concerned with the processes of convincing potential and past customers to purchase your product. Sales can be viewed as a technique that an organization/individual uses to persuade a prospect. Sales are related to Marketing but the latter narrows down to activities that facilitate a sale. This includes promotions, pricing, distribution, advertising and other activities that increase the utility of a product. Bass1 advices that to carry out a sales exercise, it is important for organizations to establish a management system that oversees the process, the new trends in the business sector have introduced sales and marketing outsourcing services. This business solution is viewed as more effective. In many business models, there is a department that is concerned with these activities. The department is headed by a sales manager who is responsible for implementing all sales models adopted by the company while offering insights on new ways and the necessary reviews to achieve the company’s objectives.
The challenges of a Sales Manager
A sales manager is faced by several challenges, the survival of a private organization is largely dependent on the performance of his/her department. This places high expectations on the individual concerned. Among business circles the sales manager is seen as the unofficial employer since it is his/her department that justifies the existence of other department (Munyon, Timothy ,Summers and Gerald 2008). The revenue that a company earns comes through this department. Apart from the high expectations, a sales manager is a leader of the departmental staff who has direct contacts with the customers. The staff titles vary according to organizations but the most popular are sales people, sales executives, and Business development officers. The sales manager supervises the staff but evaluating their performance is only through the number of successful sales that one makes. Holding a sales team accountable is a challenge that every sales manager faces. The sales manager usually gives directions to the team on ways of conducting sales. Although there is no designed formula for sales, there are the general ethics and performance expectations that regulate the process. It is a difficult task for the sales manager to establish whether the ethics were regarded in a sales exercise. The general administration issues pose a challenge to the sales manager. In all organizations, departments are always under pressure to maintain their expenditure at the possible minimum while improving their output. A sales manager check on the organization sales facilitates2. It is a major challenge to run a system of checks that ensure that the company cars with the sales staff are not misused. In this era of internet communication, a sales manager struggles to ensure that sales messages are communicated to the prospects in the designated manner.
The control of sales management is a problem that each sales manager deals with on daily basis. The sales manager is part of the sales team as the overall team leader. He/ She should lead by action by vigorously proving that the instructions that he/she offers to the team are practical. There is a need to prove that the expectations of the sales team are not unrealistic. Controlling the top sales performers is a challenge to the sales manager. The top performers know their worth in the business and will use this to blackmail the sales manager to honour their interests. With high performers there is the ever present threat that they will move to the competitor. This is usually the trend in Advertising and insurance industry where sales people change employers frequently but move with clients since they have their contacts.
Coaching and training services in sales are a necessity for any team. It is upon the sales manager to customize the training to the needs of the sales team. A sale is a qualitative persuasive action that cannot be structured into a formula to be interpreted to the team. In normal circumstances the training needs vary, there are members of the team who have problems in closing sales others in presentation. (Anderson 2005)It is upon the sales manager to indentify the individual need of each sales personnel and address it with specificity. Constant coaching of the staff but on issue they are aware or may have counter effects where they see it as an abuse to their intellect.
Training is an important part of human resource in any organization. Training is aimed at impacting the necessary skills within the business context and environment that will make the organization realize its goals with ease. Training of sales people impacts them with the necessary skills that are specific to the selling of an organizations product. There is a tendency among many organizations to minimize the training of their sales people as a cost cutting measure and opt for already trained staff. Although this motive makes business logic it is disadvantageous since the sales knowledge that a sales person requires vary within organizations and products (Anderson 2005). Training of the sales people enables a company to customize the sales knowledge to apply to their environment. However, a background of academic sales qualifications is necessary or better understanding of the customized training.
Jolson Dumbisky and Colmer notes3 that Sales training exposes the team to all the features of the products that they are selling, proper sales training focuses on the strengths and the various uses that the product can be put to. It also reveals the weaknesses of the products and offers advice to the sales personnel on how to deal with enquiries dealing with the weaknesses. Ethics are necessary for sustainability of sales and the company image, training on the weaknesses therefore equips the team with the skills to avoid decisions that may disadvantage the company. In instances where the product requires demonstration sales training adds an element of basic maintenance skills for the product (Munyon, Timothy, Summers and Gerald, 2008)
The sales people acquire knowledge on the competing products and their weakness/ strengths when compared with their organizations product. The greatest undoing in sales is when a prospect doubts a sales man’s knowledge of the product on offer. Product training as part of sales training makes the team believe in the product and thus make it easy to convince others believe in the same products (Guiltinana, 1996).
Sales training equips a sales team with knowledge on how to develop sales strategies. This is the base for any sales. Churchill Ford Walker and Harthley 4 argue that Prospects need different strategies of approach. Training enables a sales person to evaluate a client and establish whether to lean on the cost aspects of the product or on strengths that will impress the prospect. Sales training is not about learning a bag of tricks to fix the prospect; it enables a sales person to manage the whole sales process from approach, presentation and closing the sale. Training helps sales team to develop proper listening skills. This is important in their relationship with prospects. Peterson and Glaus5 concurs that People will prefer dealing with a sales person who listens to their needs, fears, opinions and responds to their enquiries. Relationship skills are the basics for any sales activity. A well structured sales training improves the relationship skills of the team to help them deal with answered phone calls, emails that are not responded to or even rude prospects. This also helps in indentifying the best prospects to approach with a sales message.
Telemarketing in Sales
Telemarketing refers to a relatively new marketing trend where a company calls prospective customers with sales messages on the product that the customers should buy. Companies tend to even outsource telemarketing services as a way of increasing their chances of making sales. This method has improved with the advances in technology. Customers are tricked into video conferences and Skype sales interviews where the feature of a product is demonstrated. Telemarketing has grown to rob calling where the selling companies usually auto record responses to phone calls thus complicating it more for the prospective customer. Political and civil advocacy messages are associated with this manner of selling (Novick,2000).
Telemarketing use in sales is not very effective due to its intruding nature. There are sales that emanate from the calls but in most cases they do not succed. Telemarketing is banks on calling so many individuals with the expectation that one will respond. The products are usually overpriced such that one ‘catch’ caters for the costs incurred in calling those who did not respond. As a sales method, teleconferencing has been accused of being unethical. Although there are no clear legal frameworks in many countries that address the issue, citizens have a feeling that telemarketing products are costly and low standard. For a company, telemarketing ruins its image and may even hinder other sales efforts through the conventionally accepted means.
Building Customer Relations
Sales are based on persuasion. It is important for all sales people to establish a good relationship with the customers. This enables sustained sales especially when the product is recurrently required. A good relationship boosts the confidence of the prospect thus increasing the chances of getting the necessary feedback that will help the organization in increasing the utility of their products.
When growing a customer base any sales person will depend on the leads that he/she will get from the loyal customers. These loyal customers are gained through a good relationship with the prospects. The growth of this base will also gain a lot from references from customers. This is a boost to the image of the organization. A good relationship saves on public relations efforts that are necessary to mend complaints from the public.
Companies can employ various methods in creating a good relationship with their customers. Ethics top this list, Bass6 advices that a sales person should stick to the truthful aspects of a product. He /She should not make customers’ expectations rise to the levels that the product will not satisfy. The frustration that follows such expectations is dangerous for any sale effort. Organizations should honour after sale services and guarantees given. (Novick, 2000)
This builds confidence among customers while creating an advertising means. Communication with the customers is a basic in good sales relationship. A sales person should make follow-up calls or email a customer just to confirm on the working of a product. In conclusion, a good sales relationship is an investment that every sales department should struggle to have. For the sales team this is important even when they change employers while for the company the relationship works to the favour of all departments.
Anderson, E. Outsourcing the sales function: The real cost of field sales.(2005) Mason,
Bass, B.M., Leadership and Performance beyond Expectations, 1985, New York: The Free Press.
Churchill, G, M. Ford, C. Walker, and S. Hartley, "The Determinants of Salesperson Performance: A Meta-Analysis," Journal of Marketing Research, May 1985
Guiltinana, Marketing Management: Strategies and Programs", 1996, McGraw Hill/Irwin
M.A. Jolson, A.J. Dubinsky, F.J. Yammarino, and L.B. Comer, "Transforming the Salesforce with Leadership," Sloan Management Review, July 2003
Munyon, Timothy P., Summers and Gerald R. Ferris. Team staffing modes in organizations: Strategic considerations on individual and cluster hiring approaches. Human Resource Management Review. 2001
Petersen, Glen. The Profit Maximization Paradox: Cracking the Marketing/Sales Alignment Code. 2008, Book surge
Novick, H.Selling through independent reps.2000, New York,
Spiro, Rosann L., Gregory A. Rich, and William J. Stanton , Management of a Sales Force,2008, McGraw-Hill Irwin, Boston