The Functions of the Sales Manager

The Functions of the Sales Manager

The Functions of the Sales Manager

The function of the Sales Manager is not, primarily, to sell; but to organize the activities of his team of salesmen to ensure their maximum effectiveness in promoting and maintaining a flow of orders from customers. His aim must be the highest appropriate sales volume at the lowest operational cost. He has to interpret to his salesmen the sales philosophy of the company as laid down by the ONLINE MARKETING Manager. To do this he must be briefed fully with regard to the sales volume he is expected to achieve and the budget within which he must operate.

The duties of the sales force should be established clearly in the form of instructions from the ONLINE MARKETING Manager to the Sales Manager. These will vary, of course, according to the nature of the business and the type of market in which it is operating.

In the field of grocery and pharmaceutical products, the sales force must ensure that good relations are maintained with the wholesale or retail customers through whom the company's products are distributed and that these customers are not only holding adequate stocks but are making sufficient effort to resell them. They must also be ready to assist by offering advice on the display of the product and by obtaining for them supplies of point-of-sale display material which acts as a follow-up to the promotional advertising in the press and on television with a view of bringing the consumer to the point of decision to make a purchase.

A sales team responsible for selling consumer goods into wholesale and retail outlets will usually require men of varying calibre. Selling into the large multiple and voluntary groups means negotiating with highly experienced buyers located in central purchasing offices to set up satisfactory 'deals'. It is obvious that only salesmen with very considerable experience and ability will succeed. Once such 'deals' have been completed, however, another type of salesman is needed to represent the company to the individual supermarket or store managers. His task is to ensure that these individual retail outlets are properly serviced with the provision of adequate stocks and display material and also to sort out any major or minor problems which from time to time are bound to arise.

Some multiple firms not only place their contracts from a central buying point, but also call forth supplies centrally, giving instructions to the supplier to deliver direct to the branch shops. There are others, however, who operate differently. Having completed the 'deal' for the supply of a particular brand, they leave to the individual branch manager the placing of call-off orders against the bulk contract. Here the salesman calling on the retail outlet has a full-scale selling job to do. The retailer's selling space is limited and he has room to stock only a certain quantity of any one commodity. It is the responsibility of the salesman to ensure his product maintains as good a share as possible of this limited space because by so doing he will not only have his brand readily available to meet consumer demand, but he will also limit the space left for his competitors' brands. In the packaged foodstuffs market this battle for precious retail display space is very real.

Before he can lay down a detailed sales policy, the ONLINE MARKETING Manager should examine the sales situation as it exists. He must establish whether the resources at the disposal of the Sales Manager are adequate for the tasks he has to perform. He may find that they are adequate in total, but are not being adequately utilized. This is a not uncommon failing and many companies have discovered, on examination, that they have fallen into the classic error of devoting, perhaps, 80 per cent of their total selling effort to chase business which is producing only 20 per cent of total returns.

An enquiry into sales force performance should consider, first, the number of salesmen which the company employs and how they are organized on a territory basis. The calling patterns should be examined to establish the number of calls which salesmen make, on average, in a week and the frequency with which calls are made on different types of outlets: retail shops and supermarkets; wholesalers; and the central buying departments of multiple stores. How many of the total number of retail and wholesale outlets in the country are, in fact, visited by the company's salesmen?

Secondly, to establish a guide to the effectiveness of current selling techniques, one should examine the ratio of orders received to the number of calls made. What is the average size of order obtained by each individual salesman? How does this compare with the average achieved by all the salesmen?

Thirdly, attention should be given to the existing level of distribution which the company has achieved for its products throughout the retail trade. How does this compare with that of competitive brands?

Finally, the ONLINE MARKETING Manager should investigate the current methods of training and supervising the sales team. Are there any training schemes for new entrants or refresher courses for established salesmen? What methods exist for communication between the Sales Manager and his individual salesmen? The current system of reporting sales calls should be reviewed and so should the methods employed to keep the salesmen informed of special promotions, new advertising campaigns and any changes to product formulation or package design.

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