Industrial Sales Force Deployment

Deployment of Sales Force in Industrial Marketing involves taking certain decisions like what should be the size of the saleDeployment of Sales Force in Industrial Marketing involves taking certain decisionss force, how the territory has to be designed, how the selling effort has to be organized and allocated. Sales force play a vital role in industrial marketing as they help in proliferation of marketing concept. Their ability to negotiate in this field and their search for new ways of marketing the products makes them the best people to judge the various alternatives methods as they deal with potential customers. They have immense talent of negotiating and coordinating with various departments and also the ability of effectively using the exiting product in alternative ways. Their ideas and suggestions play an important role in developing, improving and customizing the existing products.

Industrial Selling Environment

As industrial selling is specifically to organizational buyers who exhibit varied behaviors during the buying process, the industrial environment becomes more complex. This necessitates the industrial marketers to respond to such environment with proper planning, organizing, influencing and controlling their sales efforts. They need to identify their potential buyers and the main decision makers among them, give them a sales presentation, and then develop a continuous rapport.

A typical buying process entails more than one organizational member who provides input into decision making. Though a specialist or an agent is given the buying responsibility, they get influenced in the process. Their internal environment of the organization like the production, marketing, finance etc, and external environment like the government, technological changes etc, play a vital role in influencing their behavior.

There is a process of exchange between the industrial buyer and the seller in an industrial selling environment. The sales persons exchange their ideas, share information with the potential buyers thereby assisting them to meet their requirements of purchase decisions. The individual perception of both the parties about each other establishes some kind of boundaries in the interaction process. The negotiation process starts during the interactions where plans, goals, needs and intentions of the buyer and salesperson are discussed. It should be the endeavor of the marketers that they meet the requirements of the buying organizations through their sales force and develop relationship, trust and cooperation over a period of time thus creating a dyadic interaction.

Deciding on the Size of the Sales Force

It is very important to have an ideal sales force team as it directly affects the company sales and costs. Most of the companies follow the workload approach method to determine the sales force size. It consists of several steps like:

  1. First the customers are classified into three categories of A, B and C based on their sales potential with highest potential customer in A category and the least potential in C category.
  2. The industrial marketer has to decide how many times his sales person has to visit each class of customer in a year.
  3. Then he has to calculate the total visits per year by multiplying the number of customers in each class with the number of visits to each of them.
  4. The marketer then estimates the average number of visits each sales person can make in a year.
  5. Based on the above calculations, the marketer can decide on the number of sales persons required.

Designing the Sales Territory

The industrial marketer has to decide on the sales territory to avoid any conflict between the sales force by avoiding their entry into each other’s territory and grabbing the business. The designing of sales territory comprises of following steps:

  1. First a basic geographic location that controls the entire operations is selected. This is generally a major city or town where more of industries are located.
  2. Secondly, a market survey is conducted by the marketing manager to determine the sales potential of each control unit.
  3. Thirdly, the geographic control units are combined into approximate sales territories.
  4. Finally, after determining any difficulties faced by the sales force in covering certain areas, necessary adjustments are done. Then the final sales territories are decided.

Organizing and Allocating of Sales Force

Sales force is organized based on different parameters such as location, product, customer groups, sales resource opportunity grid.

  • Locations: Locations are defined as a part of geographical area. It is easy for sales person to look after sales in a particular location and spend considerable time in making calls by improving the rapport with the potential customers.
  • Product: When a salesperson has some expertise in some specific category of product, or a few products and even a single product, then he would be used to market just that particular product. This type of specialization is adopted with products that are technically complex where the sales persons can influence the buyer easily. Though this way of organizing the sales force is quite expensive for the organization, it has to take care to avoid certain things like duplication of sales calls (where two or more salespersons try to meet the same buyer in different times) that is very common in this.
  • Customer Groups: The sales force in this method is structured based on the customer segments they serve. This helps the sales persons to understand their customer’s needs better, understand their buying behavior, the key decision makers thus catering to the needs of such customers.

Sales Resource Opportunity Grid

One more method used by the marketing managers to allocate sales force to various customers or territories is called as Sales Resource Opportunity Grid. A portfolio or planning and control units (PCU) consists of the products, customers, potential buyers, or territories that are the opportunities in terms of sales potentials for the industrial marketers. The sales resource strength includes the number and length of sales calls/visits, number of salespersons, and percentage of salesperson’s selling time that is the competitive advantage or strength of the company within PCU.

Deployment of Sales Force in Industrial Marketing

The grid in the above figure helps the marketing manager to allocate the salespersons based on the opportunity available from the PCU after assessing the optimality of sales force deployment decisions across PCUs. It helps him to modify the size of his sales force, make changes in the sales territories, deciding in the allocation of the sales calls.

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