Sales Force

Have you seen the rowing competition at the Olympics? It is a sport where teams row their boats and try to finish before others. This is quite similar to the role of the sales force in driving sales operations. Salesforce is a team that is rowing the boat of sales in the direction they want to go. Every team member tries to match other members' efforts to achieve the sales objectives. In this article, we will discuss the important aspects of the sales force and its role in executing sales and marketing strategies. 

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Table of contents

    Sales Force Definition

    One of the key components of the promotion mix is personal selling. Through this sales method, companies try to establish direct contact with customers. The focus is on cultivating strong customer relations through interpersonal interaction and engagement. The people, who are the protagonist of this process, make a team we know as the sales force.

    A company's sales force comprises employees who engage, convince, and sell the products or services to the customers.

    It will not be wrong to say that the sales force is like the eyes and ears of a company as they get in direct contact with the customers. They know the pulse of customers and could assist the companies to adjust their offerings accordingly. They listen to customer's problems and offer possible solutions. The sales force's job is to make a complex buying process a lot easier for the customers.

    Airbus is an airplane manufacturing company. Its business involves B2B sales. The sales force works closely with the clients to ensure their specific needs are taken care of. This helps the company to fulfill the requirements of its clientele effectively.

    Sales Force Promotion

    Sales force promotion is a technique to enhance the sales team's motivation in promoting and selling the company's product.

    The sales force is the link that brings a company in contact with its customers. In communication flows, they represent both the company and the customers.

    • In the first flow of communication, they identify potential customers and inform them about the products or services. This process focuses on engaging the customers by listening to their needs and then offering them customized solutions. The sales force tries to forge strong customer relationships, eventually leading to more sales.
    • In the reverse flow of communication, the sale force communicates customers’ concerns and feedback to the company. It plays a crucial part in improving the product and delivering customer value. Customer feedback is also important in optimizing the processes such as sales and marketing. The flow of communication could be used to coordinate marketing and sales activities. Open communication in these departments could help eliminate the mistakes in the marketing and sales strategies. Finally, the company would be saving its valuable resources and spending them on improving the overall customer experience.

    Learn more in our explanation Internal marketing.

    Sales force promotion techniques can improve the communication flows and how the salespeople deliver customer value. Here are some activities to promote and motivate the sales force:

    • Provide sales training
    • Organize sales training for salespeople in the same region
    • Hold sales contests with rewards
    • Offer bonuses to exceptional performers
    • Give sales demonstrations

    Sales force, Salesforce -  a link between company and customers, PixabayFig. 1 - Salesforce - a link between company and customers

    Sales Force Structure

    There are three main sales force structures. They are used based on the company's needs in terms of the number of product lines and the number of customers.

    Sales force structure: location-based

    When a company sells a single product line to customers in different locations, it employs a geographical sales force. The salesmen are assigned different areas to handle customer queries and sell the products. The company sets sales objectives and performance metrics based on what it wants to achieve in a particular territory. It hires salesmen who know their territories inside out and have good local networks. This structure has a set hierarchy where the territory sales force reports to area managers, who report to regional managers.

    Sales force structure: product-based

    When a company has multiple product lines, it can form the sales force based on them. For instance, a company that manufactures furniture and electronics would employ a separate sales force for these product lines. Salesmen are hired based on their skills and work experience in a particular product line.

    Sales force structure: client-based

    Company uses a client-based sales force structure when it wants to focus on individual clients. These sales forces specialize in handling the specific requirements of their clients and provide customized solutions to them.

    Types of the Sales Force in Marketing

    Companies have two types of the sales force, and they can use either of them or combine them to execute their sales strategies.

    • Outside sales force – This type of sales force goes into the market to find new customers, engage them, and sell the products/services. They give information about the products, listen to the customer queries, and form relationships with the customers.
    • Inside sales force – This type of sales force could be used to assist the outside sales force in executing the sales strategies. They provide sales support to the outdoor team. With the advancement of technology and the high cost of outdoor sales activities, many companies use an inside sales force to sell the products directly to the customers. They use mobile, internet, and social media platforms to engage with customers, handle their queries, and provide after-sales guidance.

    How to manage a sales force?

    Salesforce has to be managed to ensure that the company is heading in the right direction and achieving its sales objectives. This activity is known as sales force management.

    Sales force management is the process of analyzing, planning, implementing, and evaluating sales force activities.

    Sales force management entails a series of steps to form the appropriate sales force structure, recruit the right employees, provide training, and evaluate those employees to maintain a good level of performance.

    Recruitment – It is a key part of sales operations as the recruited sales force is the face of the company in the market. Having a strong sales force enables the company to execute its sales strategies effectively. A good salesman must have qualities such as intrinsic motivation, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to form strong customer relations.

    Training – After the recruitment, comes the training phase. The company trains these new sales employees before sending them to their respective locations. The training programs teach the sales force to build interpersonal skills and learn key sales techniques.

    Performance metrics and compensation – At this stage, the company sets the salary package and performance metrics. A salesman is usually entitled to a performance-related commission and a fixed salary. The company communicates the performance-related metrics and rewards for achieving the sales targets.

    Evaluation – Sales managers evaluate the performances of their sales force. The evaluation could be monthly, quarterly, or semiannually. Managers examine the sales reports to evaluate the performance of the sales force. Customer surveys and personal observations are also used for performance evaluation.

    Rewards – Salesmen who show achieve their sales targets are rewarded in terms of commissions and bonuses. Companies can also promote salesmen who consistently maintain a high level of performance. For instance, a territory sales executive could be promoted to area sales executive post.

    Salesforce in Marketing Examples

    The sales representatives in supermarkets, clothing stores, etc. are examples of the sales force. These reps inform the customers about product specifications, listen to their requirements, and assist them throughout the buying process. They also inform customers about special discounts and advertise the products.

    Sales force, A sales rep in a clothing store, PixabayFig. 2 - A sales rep in a clothing store

    Sales Force - Key takeaways

    • The sales force is like the eyes and ears of a company as they get in direct contact with the customers.
    • Salesforce knows the pulse of customers and could assist companies to adjust their offerings accordingly.
    • The sales force is the link that brings a company in contact with its customers.
    • It represents both the company and the customers.
    • Sales force management is essential to ensure that the company is heading in the right direction in terms of achieving the sales objectives.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Sales Force

    What is the meaning of sales force? 

    A sales force of a company comprises employees who engage, convince, and sell the products/services to the customers.

    What is sales force management? 

    Sales force management is used to analyse, plan, implement, and evaluate sales force activities. 

    What is an example of sales force promotion? 

    A territory sales executive promoted to the post of area sales executive is an example of sales force promotion. 

    How do you measure sales force effectiveness? 

    The output of the sales force is measured against the sales objectives of the company to measure the sales force's effectiveness. 

    What is the role of the sales force? 

    The role of the sales force is to inform, engage, and form strong relations with customers. It helps customers throughout the buying process. 

    Additionally, it helps the company to improve its operations through customer feedback. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Sales force promotion techniques can improve the communication flows and how the salespeople deliver customer value.

    Who are the protagonists of sales activity? 

    The sales force's job is to make a complex buying process easier for the customers.   

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