After learning about the role of salespeople in an introductory marketing course, many students often believe the only important task salespeople perform is finding buyers and selling products. But it would be shortsighted to think that is all salespeople do when, in fact, their contribution to a marketing organization includes many other things. Since many students will eventually go into a sales position, we offer a few examples of what salespeople really do.
Stimulate Demand - Yes, the most obvious task of many (but not all) salespeople is to get customers to purchase products. However, obtaining a sale when a salesperson meets a potential buyer is not always the immediate goal. In many selling situations, a sale will not occur until the seller builds a trusting relationship with the buyer, which may take some time. Additionally, for some salespeople their main task is not to get an order but rather is to persuade others to create the orders. A good example is a sales rep for textbook publishing company, who persuades college professors to adopt their book. Then it is essentially the professor who creates the sale for the textbook company.
Provide Market Information – Salespeople are directly involved with customers on a daily basis, and this level of contact can offer those in charge of product marketing key details on what is occurring in the market. Feedback from the sales force is often a critical source for learning about customers’ needs that may one day lead to new products. The sales force is also on the front lines of learning about potential problems customers have with using a company’s product and also for reporting what competitors may be doing.
The Physical Representative of the Company – For many buyers, the only contact they have with a company may be through a salesperson. Consequently, a customer’s perception of a salesperson is also their perception of the company. Because of this, salespeople must assume a large amount of responsibility in representing many parts of the organization including customer service, shipping, billing, and more.
Small Business Operator – For many companies, their sales force must be able to not only manage selling but manage a wide-range of business functions. This is because many companies assign their sales force into dedicated geographic areas and require their salespeople to operate these territories as if they were their own business. Because they must become skilled at many business functions such as managing promotional spending, handling business reports, and hiring office staff.
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