Sales Force Management

Perhaps no other area of business activity gives rise to as much discussion among and between those directly involved and those who are not involved in the activity known as selling. This is not surprising when one considers that so many people derive their livelihood, either directly or indirectly, from selling. Even those who have no direct involvement in selling come into contact with it in their roles as consumers. Perhaps, because of this familiarity, many people have strong and often misplaced, views about selling and salespeople. Surprisingly, many of these misconceptions are held by people who have spent their working lives in selling, so it might well be a case of "familiarity breeds contempt".

It is important to recognize that selling and sales management, although closely related, are not the same. The developing role of selling, like other business function, required to adapt and change. Perhaps one of the most important and far-reaching of these business changes has been the adoption of the concept and practice of marketing, due to the changes in the business environment.

The Nature and Role of Sales Management

The simplest way to think of the nature and role of selling (traditionally called salesmanship) is that its function is to make a sale. Companies spend large sums of money training their sales personnel in the art of selling. The reason for this attention to personal selling is simple: in most companies, the sales personnel are the single most important link with the customer. The best designed and best-planned marketing efforts may fail because the salesforce is ineffective. This front-line role of the salesperson means that for many customers the salesperson is the company. 

The term "selling" encompasses a variety of sales situations and activities. For example, there are those sales positions where the sales representative is required primarily to deliver the product to the customer on a regular or periodic basis. The emphasis in this type of sales activity is very different to the sales position where the sales representatives are dealing with sales of capital equipment to industrial purchasers. In addition, some sales representatives deal only in export markets whereas others sell direct to customers in their homes. One of the most striking aspects of selling is the wide diversity of selling roles.

Types of Selling

The diverse nature of the buying situations means there are many types of selling job: selling varies according to the nature of the selling task. 

Type of selling

Order-takers respond to already committed customers, order-creators do not directly receive orders since they talk to specifiers rather than buyers, order-getters attempt to persuade customers to place an order directly. Both types of order-getters operate in situations where a direct sale can be made. 


  • Inside Order Takers: customer has full freedom to choose a product without the presence of a salesperson. Sales task is purely transactional or administration, receiving payment and passing over the goods.
  • Delivery Salespeople: the salesperson task is primarily concerned with delivering the product. E.g. Newspaper and magazines are delivered to the door.
  • Outside Order Takers: they visit customer but their primary function is to respond to customers request rather than persuade.


  • Missionary Salespeople: (mostly done by medical representatives) the sales task is not to close the sale but to persuade the customer to specify the seller's products. Med-rep calling on doctor can't make a direct sale since the doctor doesn't buy drugs personally but prescribes them for patients. Another example is an architect act as specifier rather than the buyer. In this situation, the selling task is to educate and build goodwill. 

Order-Getters (their major objective is to persuade customers to make a direct purchase. 

  • New Business Salespeople: the task is to win new business by identifying and selling to prospect (mostly to new target/ potential customer)
  • Organisational Salespeople: their job is maintaining a close-long-term relationship with organizational (i.e. Industrial buyer, buying for resale, institutional buyer, buying for the educational establishment, and local authorities). The selling job may involve team selling where mainstream salespeople supported by product & financial specialist.
  • Consumer Salespeople: involves physical products and services such as double glazing, security equipment, cars, insurance & personal pension plans to individuals. Generally, salespeople are rewarded through a commission. Therefore the impetus to attain an order is paramount and it has attracted much criticism in terms of high pressure being put on the customer to make a purchase.
  • Technical Support Salespeople: they provide sales support to front-line salespeople. Where mostly the product is highly technical and negotiations are complex.this may be ongoing as a part of key account team or a temporary basis with the specialist being called into the selling situation as and when required.
  • Merchandiser: they provide sales support in retail and wholesale selling situations. Orders may be negotiated nationally at head office, but sales to individual outlets are supported by merchandiser who gives advice on display, implements sales promotions, check stock levels, and maintains contact with store managers.
Basic comparison type of salesperson

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