Nature of Sales Management Positions

The requirements of the sales executive’s job vary from company to com­pany and from position to position within companies. However, certain responsibilities are typically assigned to the same types of executives in different companies. It is possible, therefore, to generalize about the activi­ties and responsibilities of sales managers, district sales managers, product managers, and other sales or marketing executives. Some companies have formulated concise statements of duties associated with various positions, known as job or position descriptions. Typical job descriptions for the jobs of sales manager and district sales manager follow.

1. Position Guide—Sales Manager

Reporting relationship. The sales manager reports to the vice-president of marketing.

Job objective. The primary objective is to secure maximum volume of dollar sales through the effective development and execution of sales pro­grams and sales policies for all products sold by the division.

Duties and responsibilities. In working toward achievement of the pri­mary job objective, the sales manager is expected to be concerned with:

  1. Sales program. The sales manager takes the initiative in estab­lishing short- and long-range sales goals of the division and, in collaboration with other marketing executives, sets sales, profit, growth, market share, and other goals.

The sales manager arranges for the development of detailed sales programs designed to improve competitive positions, reduce selling and other distribution expenses, and reach estab­lished sales goals.

The sales manager reviews and approves sales policies, sales strategies, and pricing policies (to the extent that they impact upon sales goals) for all products to ensure that short-term oper­ations are in accord with long-term profitability and do not jeop­ardize other phases of the company’s operations.

  1. The sales manager establishes an effective plan of organization, and methods of controlling the activities of members of the sales organization, that will provide sufficient time for car­rying out the full line of departmental responsibilities.

The sales manager provides leadership both to immediate sub­ordinates and all levels of the sales organization in establishing a sound basis for each individual’s self-development, and in making certain that rewards are in line with responsibilities and performance.

  1. Sales force management. The sales manager identifies promising sources for the recruitment of new sales personnel and sets stan­dards for selection of the most promising recruits.

The sales manager provides for the training of new person­nel so as to achieve high-level performance in the shortest pos­sible time. At the same time the sales manager provides for the training of veteran sales personnel, so as to improve their perfor­mance levels and to prepare them for possible promotion. The sales manager sees to it that there is an adequate supply of sales executive talent for replacements up through and including the sales manager’s own position.

The sales manager ensures that sales personnel are properly motivated, so as to achieve optimum sales performance.

The sales manager establishes a system of sales supervision that controls waste and inefficiency and points sales efforts into the most profitable channels.

  1. Internal and external relations. The sales manager develops effective working relations with other department heads and the general manager so that significant sales developments can be translated into appropriate courses of action.

The sales manager develops and maintains relationships with key accounts that provide maximum long-term participation in their available business.

The sales manager develops and maintains effective working relationships with sales, training, and other key personnel in the employ of customers to ensure that cooperation is beneficial to both parties.

  1. The sales manager keeps the vice-president of marketing informed on sales results and future plans of operation.

The sales manager establishes a system of communications with other sales personnel that keeps them informed of overall departmental sales objectives, results, and problems and keeps the sales manager informed of their needs and problems.

  1. The sales manager consults with the production manager so that production rates and inventories are geared as closely as possible to actual sales needs.

The sales manager reviews and approves sales and expense budgets and evaluates periodically the performance of all sales activities in relation to budget and sales goals and takes such cor­rective actions as are required.

The sales manager delegates authority and develops control records and performance standards to permit a proper balance of time spent on the various activities in this job description.

Performance criteria. The sales manager’s performance is considered satisfactory when

  • The department’s dollar and unit sales are equal to or exceed the quantities budgeted.
  • The profit contribution of the sales department is in line with the plan.
  • The details of sales plans are in writing and are acceptable to mar­keting management.
  • The turnover rate of sales personnel is maintained at a level regarded as satisfactory by marketing management.

2. Position Guide—District Sales Manager

Reporting relationship. The district sales manager reports to the sales manager.

Job objectives. The primary objective is to secure maximum dollar sales of the company’s products in the sales district in accordance with established sales policies and sales programs, within the limits of the sales budget.

Duties and responsibilities. The district sales manager is responsible for the effective deployment of selling efforts and the maintenance of good trade relations in the assigned district. In working toward achievement of the primary job objective, the district sales manager is expected to be concerned with

  1. Supervision of sales personnel. The district manager evaluates the sales opportunities in the district and assigns territories that have equitable work loads and that permit minimum travel costs, so as to secure maximum dollar sales at minimum cost.

The district sales manager directs, assists, and supervises sales personnel in maintaining and improving the company’s competi­tive position and in handling special sales or competitive problems.

The district sales manager rates sales personnel in the per­formance of all their duties, and at least annually discusses these ratings with them to direct their attention toward areas where improvement is needed.

The district sales manager advises the sales manager on important personnel problems.

The district sales manager evaluates the sales personnel’s strategies for key accounts, helping each to plan strategy for all assigned accounts and to develop new accounts.

  1. The district sales manager forecasts short-term sales of the district and works with sales personnel in estimating future sales in their territories so that accurate sales budgets and sales quotas can be developed.

The district sales manager prepares a periodic progress report on industry condition, forward plans, and the progress made toward sales objectives.

The district sales manager reports on significant sales or competitive developments that may affect the company’s future.

  1. The district sales manager is responsible for the efficient administration of the district office operations and ware­house and stock facilities in accord with established policies and procedures.

The district sales manager develops effective working rela­tions with technical personnel, other district managers, and home office personnel so as to take full advantage of their help to achieve sales goals, reduce costs, and effectively carry out sales programs.

  1. The district sales manager studies and analyzes the plans, programs, and policies originating in the home office and interprets them to the sales staff so that these plans, pro­grams, and policies can be coordinated in the district’s activities.

The district sales manager communicates to the sales man­ager and top administration any information about customers and markets or about personnel that should be of interest to them.

The district sales manager maintains membership in profes­sional organizations whose activities are of interest and concern to the division so as to promote better customer relations and develop intelligence sources.

Performance criteria. The district sales manager’s performance is con­sidered satisfactory when

  • The district’s dollar and unit sales are equal to or exceed the quan­tities budgeted.
  • The district’s total expenses are not higher than the amounts bud­geted.
  • The profit contribution of the district office and warehouse is in line with plan.
  • The turnover rate of district sales personnel is maintained at a level regarded as satisfactory by the (general) sales manager.

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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