In the words of Peterson and Wright, Salesmanship is the process whereby the seller ascertains and activates the needs or wants of the buyer and satisfies these needs or wants to the mutual continuous advantage of both the buyer and the seller.
According to the National Association of Marketing Teachers of America, “Salesmanship is the ability to persuade people to buy goods or services at a profit to the seller and with, benefit to the buyer”.
From these definitions, it is clear that salesmanship is not just handing over of goods to the customers and taking the money for them. True salesmanship is not only an art of inducing the consumers to buy goods, but also an art of guiding them to buy what they need. In short, salesmanship is the process of persuading and assisting a prospective customer to buy a commodity or service.
Features of Salesmanship
Salesmanship has several characteristic features. The main features of salesmanship are:
- Salesmanship is personal selling and is the oldest form of selling.
- It is the most important form of promotional mix.
- It is the art of selling a product or service. It is all about selling a product by presenting the product to the prospects in a convincing and persuasive manner by which the prospect is induced to buy.
- It involves direct and personal contact with the buyers.
- It is a creative art. It creates new wants. A need may be already in existence. But it is the job of a salesman to transform the needs into wants.
- To be very effective, salesmanship also has to be carried on continuously to perpetuate the demand created once.
- Salesmanship basically aims at selling a product. It does not stop at that. Actually it involves selling an idea or one’s point of view. For instance, salesmanship, in the case of a paint manufacturing concern, is not just the sale of paints, but the sale of an idea, color, shade beauty or durability.
- It is an educative process. Salesmanship provides information about the products, their special features and their utility.
Objectives of Salesmanship
The main objectives of salesmanship are
- To create demand for a new product.
- To maintain and also expand the demand for an existing product.
- To guide the buyers in the proper selection of goods.
- To build up goodwill or reputation for the seller.
Besides, the objective of salesmanship could be long-term or short-term objectives.
According to Still and Cundiff, the objectives of salesmanship could be quantitative or qualitative. The quantitative objective would be emphasizing on the achievement of short-term company objectives whereas qualitative objectives are based on achieving long-term objectives of the company.
Qualitative or Long-term Objectives of Salesmanship
- To undertake to do the entire selling activity.
- To serve the existing accounts in terms of their orders, stock position, requirement, schedule of supply, level of performance and collection of payments.
- To generate new enquiries and new prospects.
- To convert some of the new prospects into long-term customers.
- To regularly inform customers about product characteristics, technical upgradation and company’s commitment to quality consciousness.
- To coordinate with distribution channel members to improve sales and market-share.
- To collect information from markets, customers, suppliers, distribution channel members and consultants for use by company management.
Quantitative or Short-term Objectives of Salesmanship
The quantitative objectives or short-term selling objectives are important for the company’s current operations. These objectives could be:-
- To obtain orders and execute them to the satisfaction of customers.
- To meet the sales target.
- To maintain present accounts and add new customers.
- To maintain market share and competitive edge.
- To achieve sales volume and satisfy company’s product mix norms.
- To submit sales reports regularly as per company’s policies.
The qualitative and quantitative objectives vary from one company to another and would largely depend upon the company’s standing in the market.
The topline objective of a sales manager is to meet company revenue targets through the activities of their sales representatives. In other words, they harness the power of their direct reports, driving sales force productivity and extracting the best performance from each individual employee.
A sales manager achieves this objective through a mix of approaches. For example they:
Are responsible for motivating and advising their reps to improve their performance, as well as hiring and training new sales representatives.
Achieve their objectives through effective planning, setting sales goals, analyzing data on past performance, and projecting future performance.
Ensure that the sales department works cross functionally with executives from other departments. For example, they collaborate with marketing to generate new lead sources and expand the target customer base, or with product and research teams to make sure customer needs are met.
A sales manager simultaneously plays three key roles:
- People manager: Recruit, build and nurture a team.
- Customer manager: Strategically foster customer engagement.
- Business manager: Steer the business.
Characteristics of a top Sales Manager
A successful sales manager’s characteristics, skills, and aptitudes are different from those of a successful sales representative. In fact, most sales reps make bad managers. The key characteristics of a sales manager focus less on selling ability and more about the interpersonal skills that enable leadership.
Rather than “doing it themselves,” they teach and coach others how to do it, enabling the sales efforts of others. They develop their own leadership, hiring, and training skills while ensuring their team is using the correct selling behaviors and activities to meet their revenue objectives.
Typical characteristics, skills, and traits of a sales manager include:
- Communication skills: they listen first and speak second. They don’t chastise in public or private. They are aware of the message they transmit to their team, how it’s delivered, and how it’s perceived.
- Integrity and trust: they never ask their reps to do something immoral, illegal, or something that goes against a company’s core values.
- Ability to build relationships with peers, cross-functional counterparts, and upper management: They are committed to helping others be successful.
- Empathy and ability to understand customer viewpoint and customer service
- Ability to unite a team under a shared vision and know what motivates each member.
- Analytical skills: They use data-driven reports to spur sales coaching sessions and empower reps to take ownership of their opportunity pipelines. They understand pricing, margins, and discounting impacts.
- The ability to prioritize and effectively manage time.