Coordination of Personal Selling with Other Marketing Activities

1. Sales and Advertising

The sales and advertising departments work toward the same objective— the stimulation of demand—but they use different approaches. Personal selling techniques are the province of the sales department and nonper­sonal selling techniques that of the advertising department. The two types of selling effort need skillful blending to achieve an “optimum promo­tional mix.” This requires coordination of plans and efforts. The activi­ties of the sales force are planned and directed along lines that increase advertising’s impact, and advertising is geared to help salespeople where and when they need it most. The sales department assists

department in selecting themes and media, in preparing schedules, and in securing dealers’ support for cooperative advertising programs. The adver­tising department helps the sales department in such ways as furnishing sales aids for the sales force and for dealers and by providing sales leads. Advertising conserves the sales force’s time, for prospects presold through advertising are easier to convert into customers. Proper timing and coor­dination of advertising and personal selling are essential, and promotional programs need skillful administration by executives who understand both types of selling effort.

Both departments work toward the same goals, so formal coordi­nation is best achieved by having both department heads report to the same high-ranking executive, for example, the marketing vice-president. However, because so many matters are of joint interest and so many require frequent communication, most coordination between these two departments are on an informal day-today basis, with frequent interactions of department heads and subordinates.

2. Sales and Marketing Information

To obtain maximum returns per dollar spent for marketing information, the sales department works in close harmony with the department or departments producing marketing information. In some instances, this information is provided by marketing research, but in companies with sophisticated marketing information systems, marketing research is only one of the subsystems providing information inputs. Marketing informa­tion systems assist the sales department by gathering data needed for analyzing sales problems, assisting in determining sales potentials and setting quotas, measuring the effectiveness of the sales effort, assisting with sales tests, and in other ways. The sales department provides the information system with many of the raw statistics and other information needed for sales and market analysis and forecasting.

As marketing information systems and marketing research become more sophisticated, the sales department works ever more closely with information personnel. Surprisingly little systematic research has been done in evaluating the relative effectiveness of alternative personal-selling appeals and methods of making sales presentations. When sales and information personnel address themselves jointly to these and related important topics, close cooperation becomes even more critical.

Coordination of the sales department with the information sys­tem and its data-processing capacity is important. The sales department provides the marketing information system with definitions both of its information needs (desired “outputs”) and the information it has available (the “inputs”). The data-processing unit may or may not combine the sales departments own information inputs with inputs from elsewhere. Both in designing and operating a management information system, continuing formal and informal cooperation and communications are of the highest importance.

Improvements in data-handling activities have been significant. From the sales department’s standpoint, for example, it has always been import­ant to bill customers correctly and promptly. Automation of order process­ing not only has resulted in improvements in customer service but has produced as by-products data needed for making rapid changes in sales and production plans, and for inventory control.

Traditionally, sales volume and profit reports are used to measure the performance of the sales force. New softwares turn out these reports quickly, frequently, and in great detail. The software’s capabilities are so great that sales executives call for ‘‘exception reports’’ to avoid being bur­ied in mountains of detail. These reports highlight things requiring atten­tion, for example details of sales persons failing to meet sales target; sales and expense ratios; loss-making territories; loss-making products; and slow-moving products, etc.

The distribution systems of many companies provide customers with automatic ordering procedures. Many apparel makers, for instance, have set-ups allowing store buyers to punch out their orders on in-store console teleprocessing stations linked to a central computer at the seller’s plant or warehouse, which, in seconds, scans the customer’s account for a credit okay, examines inventory records to see whether the styles, sizes, and col­ors can be supplied, discerns the age of the account, types out a shipping order, and stores the new inventory information in memory. This makes it convenient for customers to reorder and speeds up order processing, both improving relations with customers. The continuing need for devel­opmental selling and for keeping in close touch with customers’ prob­lems means that the salesperson’s role has been changed, not eliminated. Automatic reordering procedures are spreading and sales executives work with data-processing specialists both in setting them up and in monitoring their operations, adjusting them as required to meet changing customer requirements.

Sales executives have a continuing need to maintain close relations with information and computer specialists. There is room for improved coordination and cooperation between the sales department and the infor­mation function. Probably the greatest opportunity lies in the development of closer informal relationships among personnel at all levels. Insofar as formal coordination is concerned, both marketing information and sales department heads generally report to the same superior.

3. Sales and Service

In companies manufacturing technical products or products requiring installation and repair services, cooperation and close contact of the sales and service departments are essential. Availability of service, such as technical advice on the installation of a new product, is a power­ful selling argument, and there are implications for the service depart­ment in a salesperson’s promises to buyers. Moreover, in many industries (commercial refrigeration, for example), the recommendations of ser­vice personnel often influence buyers’ decisions, and in selling vacuum sweepers and other household appliances, service personnel act in a sales-making capacity.

Where service is important in sales strategy, provisions for formal coordination are built into the organizational structure. When both sales and service departments are decentralized, the organization should pro­vide for bridging the gap between the home office and the field. Sales and service should relate—usually by locating sales and service per­sonnel in the same field offices, with regional managers responsible for both activities. Under both centralized and decentralized organizational plans, sales and service functions are coordinated at the department head level, most often by having both these heads report to the chief marketing executive. Under all organizational arrangements, the need for continuous cooperation between sales and service means that the great bulk of coordinating is informal, and between personnel on lower organizational levels.

4. Sales and Logistics

Achieving effective coordination of selling and logistics is important. Most firms accept the notion that all business operations should be geared toward serving customers at a profit. This requires the maintenance of favorable relations between sales volume and costs of various kinds, including logistic costs.

Proper packing, accurate freight-rate quotations, and promptness in delivery—all physical distribution activities—are important in securing sales volume. Unless costs of performing these activities are kept under control, sales volume yields less profit than it should. Sales policies, such as those on delivery schedules, are coordinated with the capabilities of the logistic operation and its costs. The benefits of effective coordi­nation with logistics team are significant. This minimizes out-of-stock occurrences, reduces customers’ inventory requirements, strengthen the relations with customers, and a consequent reduction in total distribution costs.

The most effective formal coordination of sales and physical distri­bution results from having the heads of both operations report to a com­mon superior, such as the marketing vice-president. Even more important is the informal coordination of sales and physical distribution personnel, at all levels, on a day-to-day basis. Salespeople and their counterparts in the physical distribution department, for example, communicate directly and frequently, thus helping to ensure efficient processing of customers’ orders.

Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.

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