A salesperson not only communicates product information to customers but also relays the reactions of customers towards company and its products to his employer. Hence, the management of sales force is an important aspect of marketing management. It is concerned with the task of selection, orientation training, supervision, motivation compensation and evaluation of the sales force of the company.
Although in some organisation some of the above mentioned duties are assigned to the personnel manager but in most cases it is the sales manager who is responsible for successful performance of these functions.
Sales Force Management (SFM) is a sub-system of marketing management. It is Sales Management that translates the marketing plan into marketing performance. That is why sales force management is sometimes described as the muscle behind the marketing management. Actually, sales force management does much more than serving as the muscle behind marketing management.
Sales managers in modern organization are required to be customer-oriented and profit-directed and perform several tasks besides setting and achieving personal selling goals of the firm. Let us understand briefly the sales force management, tasks involved in the sales force management. Sales managers in modern organization are required to be customer- oriented and profit-directed and perform several tasks besides setting and achieving personal selling goals of the firm.
A company takes into account its competitive setting, because this influences all its sales-related policies; which in turn affects the formulation of strategies. Marketing plans are long-term and strategic. Mostly, sales plan are short-term and tactical. A company may operate in pure competitive environment which is hardly found in practice, but makes our understanding of other types of competition more incisive.
In practice, we may encounter monopolistic competition which is most common, or oligopolistic competition where there are, a number of competitors. Mostly, the qualitative personal selling objectives respond to the competitive setting in which an organisation operates. Qualitative objectives have a bearing on the sales job.
A company may have the objective to rely 100 per cent upon personal selling. It then needs a larger and a trained salesforce. Another company relies more on advertising, and expects the salesperson to provide just the support service, and order booking service. It may do well with an ordinary salesforce, not so large in size.
Quantitative selling objectives also influence both the nature of the sales task on hand, and the size of the salesforce. A larger sales volume target requires more effective and large-sized salesforce that covers the territory intensively. Sales-related marketing policies provide a framework within which the salesforce performs.
In B2B marketing, the field sales force has always been critical; salespeople typically introduce products/services directly to end users. Business customers increasingly want vendors to possess real expertise in their specific industries/functions.
They expect salespeople to help solve business problems, not just sell widgets. In turn, many B2B vendors have expanded product lines, added solutions specialists to help knit together disparate products/services into integrated offers.
Step 1: Create Leads from CRM’s Management: According to a recent study, it has been observed that 65 % of the B2B companies do not maintain a proper lead nurturing process. With the overcrowded CRM systems, the team eventually ends up in storing the data in the spreadsheets.
Step 2: Integrate CRM with Marketing Automation Tool: In this stage, the marketing automation tool can easily be integrated with the CRM. The effective lead process can be acquired by presenting proper information to the sales team. Both the automation tool and the CRM combine to a single system to perform a proper framework for the lead generation activities. They can be used as the analytics or the elements can be customized for targeting suitable audiences.
Step 3: Prepare Real Time Insights: Different real time applications have been launched for informing the sales team with instant alerts. The team can easily obtain the status and the activities of the lead from the alerts. You can even track the individuals who have gone through your mails as long as you use the Chrome browser. The sales professional can easily track whether the customer is changing his requirement of job profile in the linkedIn and updating his current skills and positions, whether a new lead has been generated through your website or not. Therefore, the team can easily be aware whether the leads are matching the requirements or not and then act accordingly.
So, a B2B sales team being a part of the organizational strategy should focus on the lead nurturing process. Online communities can be created keeping the niche focus in mind. The system engineers and the product managers can directly connect with the salesforce team with the help of the marketing automation tool. The communities can be well organized with the posts of the recent topics. This will help the members to join the group discussion within the own community of the organization instead of going to some external communities.
The social media activities can perform the role of a platform where new leads can be generated. For measuring the return on investments the organization can use various products for tracking the original source and the sales conversions. The strong content strategy of the social media accounts can help the interested members to distribute them among the others. Trial and error method can be used to check whether the content is attracting more leads to the organization or not. It can be observed whether the prospects are turning into the customers or not. So, the B2B sales force team can train their employees for assessing the salesforce community as well as to be proactive in the online communities.
Management of sales consists of following:
Recruitment is at the centre of an effective sales force. One approach in the selection is asking a customer what characteristics they look for in a sales representative. Companies develop selection procedure where behavioral and management skills are tested.
Training is essential to remain ahead of the competition. Sales force needs training before entering the market as well as training at different stage of the product life cycle.
Supervision on sales force is decided on the profile of product portfolio. A general supervision is maintained with respect to sales people dealing with potential clients. Another supervision is related to efficient time management from preparation of client call to closing of the deal.
Motivation is a key aspect for management of the sales force. Here compensation plays an important in driving up the motivational level. Compensation can be assigned based on sales quota. Other motivational tools are social gathering and family outing.
Evaluation is essential to management of a sales force. Sales reports sent by the sales force serve a good starting point of evaluation.
Art of negotiation and relationship marketing these two are the important aspects of successful sales representative and long term benefit for the company.
Some of the metrics that are implemented in the sales force management processes are:
- Time management: Measures the tasks and time required for each task.
- Call management: Planning for customer interactions.
- Opportunity management: If the sales force management process is correctly implemented, sales opportunity will be created.
- Account management: In case of multiple opportunities with a customer, the account is to be measured by the tools, processes and objectives.
- Territory management: Managing sales territories is of utmost experience for managing sales figures.
Major Steps in Sales Force Management:
- Establishing Sales Force Objective:
Sales people must be given clear, feasible and attainable objectives.
- Designing Sales Force Strategy, Structure, Size and Compensation:
(i) Sales Force Strategy:
This includes deciding the type of persons required, type of products added in product line etc.
Strategy influences the structure.