The Need for Two-Way Communication

The Need for Two-Way Communication

The Need for Two-Way Communication

Sales Force communication should flow in both directions. Information from the management to the men in the field is quite as important to the smooth and efficient running of the sales department as are the reports of the salesmen. There can be a tendency among management personnel, particularly of large organizations, comfortable and reasonably secure in their carpeted and centrally heated offices, to forget the loneliness of the long-distance salesman. The man based on a territory hundreds of miles away can easily feel neglected, even abandoned, by the policy-makers at Head Office. After his training period is over he can soon get out of touch with what is going on in the company. His enthusiasm can dwindle if the significance of his personal contribution to the company's progress appears to go unrecognized. However self-motivated an individual may be, he needs the stimulus of knowing something of what is going on and the part which he is expected to play in the general scheme.

Between his periodic visits to each of the sales territories, therefore, the Sales Manager will be wise to maintain communication with his far-flung salesmen by means of news sheets, newsletters and other bulletins. These should be designed to inform and encourage the men in the field and to spur them to greater efforts. The content of such bulletins will vary in accordance with diverse products and markets. The following are some suggested topics:

(1) Improvement to the Product

Every salesman is interested in possible new selling features for the product he has to sell. The least value of such information is that it gives him a fresh talking point for his conversation with customers. At best, it may enable him to counter customers' previous objections to the product and obtain new business. Wherever possible, one should provide a case-history of the developments which have led to the improvement because this also will arouse increased customer interest and will enhance the technical prestige of the company.

(2) New Trading Development

News of any changes in trading methods or new methods of approach which have proved successful in other territories are always of interest to salesmen who will quickly seek to adopt them in negotiations with their own customers. Here again, case-histories are valuable. Providing care is taken not to betray confidences, a bulletin, which describes how a specific sales problem on one area was overcome, can assist salesmen in other areas with similar problems.

(3) New Advertising and Promotion Schemes

Details of a new advertising programme or of a forthcoming special promotion scheme will act as a tonic for the consumer goods salesman anxious to discover the means for generating renewed interest and co-operation among retail stockists. He will be glad to learn about the preparation of special point-of sale material which ties in with the new advertising and how his dealers will be able to use it to the best advantage.

Above all, however, the Sales Manager should ensure that the morale of his salesmen is maintained by being interested personally in their problems. Matters arising from sales reports which require his comment or decision should be dealt with promptly and with courtesy. A telephone call from a salesman seeking guidance should not be curtailed abruptly because the Sales Manager 'has more important things to deal with'.

As the leader of a team, the Sales Manager has a right to expect loyalty from his salesmen. But they have rights too, and the Sales Manager should never forget that he, in his turn, must be loyal to them. He should endeavour to do all he can, by example and encouragement, to create and maintain mutual trust. The salesman often has a lonely job. He can be the victim of abuse from customers when things go wrong. He has to put up with many frustrations. But if he has confidence that his boss is interested in his progress and is not insensitive to his difficulties, a good man will continue to give of his best and will accept the fact that a salesman's lot is not always a happy one.

Next Step: - Forecast 2015 Trade Margins

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