The recruitment, selection and training of salesmen is an important part of sales management. Too often, particularly in the smaller or medium-sized companies, these tasks are given less attention than they deserve. Frequently the Sales Manager is too deeply immersed in the day-to-day problems of selling the products to be able to devote adequate time and thought to the improvement of his sales force. In apportioning responsibilities, therefore, the ONLINE MARKETING Manager should bear in mind the fact that the quality of the sales team will depend, to a large degree, upon the attention which the Sales Manager can give to this aspect of his work.

The Sales Manager should not be so burdened with the detail of current sales that he can find no time for a study of weakness in his sales coverage, nor for the lengthy and arduous task of recruiting and selecting additional salesmen. The essence of management is to find the right subordinates and to train them in such a way that one adds something of the company's accumulated knowledge and experience to such innate abilities which they bring to their jobs.

Recruitment and Selection

Finding people who want to become salesmen is not difficult. The job is one to which an inordinate amount of glamour seems to be attached. A high proportion of young men, failing any other specified bent in life, frequently opt to become salesmen in the belief that the job carries with it a considerable freedom from discipline, favourable employment conditions and an enviable social status. While all these attributes undoubtedly apply to salesmanship, there is another side to the coin: the salesman works in all weathers, often for long hours at a stretch and away from the comforts and the security of home. He will be treated, frequently, in cavalier fashion by his customers and, should he fail to maintain a fully satisfactory level of sales, he may find his life made miserable by the badgering of a Sales Manager who is, himself, under constant pressure to produce improved results.

It is little wander, therefore, that there can be a considerable turnover of salesmen and that the composition of a sales team is seldom static. Apart from the fledgling who becomes disillusioned and quits selling for more tranquil fields, one has the problem of keeping the more successful salesman who may fail to see the prospects of advancement he wants and who decides to move on, possibly to a competitor, where he thinks the grass grows a little greener.

Staff turnover in the sales force is something to be avoided as much as possible. It takes even an experienced salesman a considerable time-anything from six months to two years, according to the trade, the product and the locality in which he works-before he is fully established and has become sufficiently well known and accepted by his customers to obtain his best results. Where the company policy, or the nature of the product or service to be sold, necessitates the recruitment of inexperienced salesmen, a period of several weeks or months may elapse before the new entrant can be launched on to his territory.

As trade and industry continues to expand, the competition between employers for good salesmen-and men with good potentialities for selling-increases. The proportion of sales management time which has to be devoted to recruitment and training also increases and with it the overhead costs of the sales department. It is bad business, therefore, to underestimate the importance which attaches to this aspect of the Sales Manager's work.

Salesmen can be recruited by a number of methods. The means chosen will depend upon the degree of experience one is seeking, the market to be approached and the type of product to be sold. The calibre of salesmanship which the job demands will have a bearing on the source from which applicants will be drawn. Generally speaking, one looks for a different type of individual to sell materials and components to industrial users than one seeks to sell branded consumer goods into wholesale or retail outlets. The task of selling, for example, a piece of capital equipment to the managing director of a large industrial firm differs from that of negotiating the sale of a new brand of biscuits to the chief buyer of a national grocery chain. The basic principles of salesmanship will, of course, remain the same. There will, however, be modifications in the method of approach. The expertise required of the industrial salesman will be neither greater nor less than that required of the biscuit salesman; but there will be differences in emphasis and in the background training of one to the other.

There are, similarly, differences in the level of negotiating ability which may be required in any specific trade or industry. The man who will negotiate the biscuit contract with the major retail food chain will exhibit skills which, clearly, will hardly find adequate expression were he to be employed at the branch-shop level of selling, to collect stock orders and to check into routine queries.

Further reading - The Amount of The Advertising Appropriation