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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