Sales Promotion in Industrial Marketing

Sales promotion is an activity used by the industrial marketer to boost the immediate sales of a product or service. It is used to increase the sales by impressing the customers, rewarding them and also motivating the sales force to get more business. There are different techniques used in a industrial sales promotion activity like a free-sample campaign, offering free gifts, arranging demonstrations or exhibitions, organizing competitions with attractive prizes, temporary price reductions, door-to-door calling, telemarketing, using personal letters, etc.

More than any other element of the promotional mix, sales promotion is about “action”. It is about stimulating customers to buy a product. It is not designed to be informative – a role which advertising is much better suited to.

Need for Sales Promotion in Industrial Marketing

  • To introduce a new product in the market.
  • To influence the public with the help of new uses of the product.
  • To increase the frequency of purchase by each buyer.
  • To encourage dealers to stock more goods.
  • To withstand in the competitive field.
  • To increase the sales by imparting special training to salesmen and by window display.

Sales Promotion Methods in Industrial Marketing

There are many sales promotional methods available for industrial marketers. Some of the techniques they can use are as follows:

Trade Shows (or Exhibitions)

Trade shows present the manufacturers an occasion to exhibit and demonstrate their products to a large number of customers in a short period of time. They are the second most important promotional activity for industrial marketers after personal selling. Trade shows are generally organized by trade associations annually at a particular location or at some exhibitions where in companies lease some space to display and demonstrate their products to the potential customers.

Trade shows offers several advantages for industrial marketers like:

  • One-to-one contact with the potential buyers and existing customers that increases the awareness on company and its products
  • Occasion to sell the products to the customer directly where no intermediaries are involved
  • Building database of prospective customers
  • Building goodwill and relationship with the potential buyers
  • Demonstrating non-portable (bulky) equipment that is otherwise difficult to take to each prospect
  • Discovering new and innovative products of competitors
  • Opportunity to get new product ideas due to customer interactions
  • A good break for the newly joined salespersons who get on the job training by interacting with varied customers
  • Generating leads for new business

There are certain disadvantages also with trade shows like:

  • It is one of the expensive form of promotion
  • It is very difficult to identify the potential customer among the huge audience visiting the exhibition
  • Pulling/attracting the customers to visit one place is very difficult


Catalogs are the printed form of direct marketing promotional tools used by industrial marketers to provide information about their products especially if they have long product lines with different shapes, sizes or other features. The company sales force meets the potential buyers and explains the product features by offering catalogs. Based on the different catalogs collected from different suppliers, a potential buyer compares the features of different products and seeks quotations from the supplier who provides best quality product at economical price. Hence, a catalog should try to provide all the relevant information that a buyer is seeking from the company about a particular product (specific catalog) or all the products in general (general catalog). A catalog commonly contains information like product specifications, performance data, service requirements, application of products, illustrations and drawings, etc.


Samples are the free or charged offerings given to the prospective buyers as a part of product development program. Samples are used mostly to make an entry in the prospective customer’s place. Eg. A medical representative offering a sample of tablets to the doctor that can be distributed to the needy patients.

There are various ways in which a sample can be distributed. A promotional literature can be sent through post, anti-virus software is offered free through Internet, free shampoo sachets are offered through dealers when some product is purchased, cars are offered for a test drive when personal visits are made to a dealer. Sometimes samples are charged by the suppliers to ensure that customers really test them and also to control the huge costs involved in offering them free.

Samples have a chance of being misused or taken away by the salesperson and “sample hounds” who are not genuine prospects for the products. Sometimes samples cannot be distributed because of the cost involved, weight, bulkiness, toxicity and intricate design.

Promotional Letters

This is one of the effective form of promotion where in personalized letters are sent to individual customers along with catalogs and coupons giving technical specifications about an existing or new products which are to be launched. Letters to customers at regular periods is a good way of keeping in touch with them particularly in case of products that are purchased infrequently. The cost of promotional letter is very less compared to the personal visits made by the sales force and it also receives good attention. Since good correspondence and writing skills are the requisite for this, there should be special correspondence section who can take advise from salesperson regarding the kind of letters to be sent and to whom it should be addressed.

Sales Contests

There are various sales contests that are held by different industrial organizations in order to boost the morale of their employees and other intermediaries. Depending on the amount of sales generated, employees and dealers are offered incentives in the form of cash prizes, gifts or foreign trips.


Seminars are conducted by the industrial marketers by making audio-visual presentation through the technical experts of the company. The seminar is followed by a question and answer session for the benefit of buying organizations where technical information is provided to them relating to their nature of activity. This helps in creating a favorable image about the company and also to establish new contacts with various technical people from the buying organization.

Promotional Novelties

These are the small gift items given by the company to existing and potential customers with their company name and logo printed on it. The common promotional novelties include diaries, key chains, calendars, pens, bags etc. Promotional novelties should be generally inexpensive, unusual and eye-catching, useful to the customers and have multiple impacts. Promotional novelties are offered according to the type of customers – costly for senior management, medium for middle management and low cost for junior management positions.

Credit: Industrial Marketing-CU