Sales force management consists of analysis, planning, implementation and control of sales force activities. Following are the main steps in sales force management:
Setting objectives: The first step involved in sales force management is to decide what a firm intends to achieve through personal selling. Personal selling may have any one or more objectives given below:
- Serving the existing customers.
- Developing new customers.
- Improving company’s image.
- Increasing company’s market share and profit.
- Enhancing customer satisfaction, etc.
Designing Strategy: The next step of sales force management is to decide on one or more strategies to contact the prospective customers. Prospective customers are met in their respective places in the foreign countries. Prospective customers may be contacted personally or through mail or over telephone. Now the company should decide whether it should use company sales force or contractual sales force to contact the prospects.
Structure of Sales force: After finalizing sales strategy, the next step to be taken by the company is to plan the structure of the sales force. Following options are available to a company for planning sales force structure:
- Territorial Structure: In this structure each salesperson is assigned an exclusive geographical territory.
- Product Structure: In this structure, each salesperson is assigned a product or product line.
- Customer Structure: In this structure sales force is organized along customer lines.
Size of the Sales force: Next step is the determination of the number of salespersons that the company needs over a specific period of time (say a year). The size of the sales force depends on the compensation methods used, salesman’s morale, sales forecasts, and the overall management of the sales force. It must be adjusted periodically with the variation in the company’s marketing plans and changes in markets and forces in the marketing environment.
Recruitment and Selection of Salespersons: The next step is to seek applicants who have required qualifications, and matching them to the duties of salesman. The salesman may be chosen from inside the organization or Outside, through advertisement, introductions, educational institutions, small customers, etc., or the sales forces.of other firms in the trade. The sales manager should judge the ability of the persons concerned before actually selecting them as salesmen.
Since salesman directly comes into contact with customers as a representative and he reflects the character of the employer, therefore, utmost care need be taken in selecting a salesman. Unwise selection will bring slow turnover, inefficient blocks of capital in stocks, loss of goodwill, increased selling expenses, certain qualities are deemed necessary for successful selling.
Training of Salespersons: Salespersons should be properly trained. It is not only the newly recruited salesmen who need training but the existing sales then also need it as the product, market and the competition are in a continued process of change. Sales training programs can be directed at the entire sales force or at a few individuals. They can be conducted by sales managers, other salespeople, or technical specialists from with in the organization. There are also individuals and organizations that sell special sales training program. Regardless of who manages the training programme, several issues should be addressed, including type, location and timing, and methods and materials of training. The emphasis in all these issues should be on developing the necessary skills among salespersons so that they can prove to be assets for the firm.
Compensating salespeople: One of the goals in developing a personal selling programme is to attract, motivate, and retain a highly productive sales force. To accomplish that goal, the business must develop and implement a plan for compensating the sales force. The compensation plan should provide salespeople with an adequate degree of income and incentive.
Supervision: Effective supervision of salespersons plays a crucial role in improving their performance. Salespersons operate in the field and are often located thousands of kilometers away from the company office. This makes their supervision more difficult, There should be proper communication channel between supervisor and salespersons. Effective supervision motivates salespersons. Salespersons should be motivated through monetary incentives, sales contests, honors, promotion, personal growth, etc.
Evaluation: Management of sales force will not be complete without evaluation of their performance. For sound evaluation, these should be a feedback mechanism. This requires regular sales reports of the salespeople, personal observation, customer surveys, communication from the customers, discussions with others in the company. Meeting sales targets is one of the several criteria for evaluation. The purpose of evaluation is to take corrective measures, if needed, to achieve the objectives.