Sales executives spend most of their time on sales force management; they also are concerned with other marketing activities. The degree of responsibility over these activities, and the amount of time allocated to them, vary with the particular job, but sales executives are almost always concerned with products, promotion, pricing, and distribution. They may also have a role in achieving control over these activities and coordination among them.
1. Relation with Product Management
Product planning and the formulation of product policies requires numerous decisions. Periodically each product needs appraising in terms of its profitability and its ability to fulfill buyers’ wants. Decisions are made on whether each should be retained, changed or improved, or dropped from the line. Other decisions are made on adding new products and on changes in product design and other features. Still other decisions concern product quality, services rendered in connection with sales, and packaging.
Product decisions are often the shared responsibility of marketing, production, research and development, and financial executives, operating as a product committee. Sales executives provide inputs for these decisions. Their contact with the market through subordinates and sales personnel provide them with feedback about product performance and acceptance generally not available from other sources.
2. Relations with Promotion Management
Chief marketing executives are responsible for setting promotional policies, but sales executives participate in their formulation. Their knowledge of the market and their control over personal-selling activity make sales executives a key source of information, and they occupy a strategic position in implementing promotional plans. Sales personnel are responsible not only for transmitting sales messages to prospects but for securing the use of point-of-purchase displays and for coordinating dealer efforts with advertising programs. Sales executives, because of their key roles in making and implementing promotional policies, must coordinate closely with other executives in the formulation and implementation of the promotional program.
Almost every product relies on personal selling as a promotional method at one or more points in the marketing channel. Personal selling’s effectiveness traces to the use of personal contact in conveying the sales message to prospective buyers. But personal selling is the most expensive promotional method in terms of cost per sales message transmitted. The proportion of personal selling in the promotional mix generally must be limited, and it is the sales executive’s responsibility to keep selling costs down.
The sales executive makes certain that salespeople keep abreast of current advertising campaigns. Sales personnel need briefing on specific advertising appeals, enabling them to adapt their selling approaches in ways that enhance the total promotional impact. The sales force should know which media are scheduled to carry advertisements for which prod-ucts and the timing of each ad’s appearance. Advertising personnel need access to the sales executive, since this executive is an important source of information about customers, their needs, behavior, and motives.
Sales executives play similar roles with respect to other promotional methods. Decisions regarding the usage of these methods in the promotional mix are normally made by the chief marketing executive or by other specialists. Besides serving as an important source of information, the sales executive secures coordinative efforts by the sales force to ensure that each promotional activity obtains optimum results.
3. Relations with Pricing Management
When major decisions on pricing policy are required, both the chief marketing executive and the sales executive occupy influential positions in top management councils. Relative to other executives, they generally have much clearer ideas of the prices final buyers are willing to pay, the sales executive because of close and continuing contacts with the market and the marketing executive because of access to pricing information gathered and interpreted by the marketing research staff.
In spite of the fact that these two executives are well qualified to speak with authority on pricing matters, price policies should be formulated and prices should be set by a group of executives. Each department affected should be represented as pricing policymaking is, by nature, an interdepartmental activity. Included in the policymaking group should be representatives not only of the marketing department but also of such departments as production, cost accounting, credit, advertising, legal, and public relations. Pricing policies should result from the cooperative action of the group rather than from compromises among its members.
Once pricing policy is established, its implementation is the responsibility of the sales executive. For example, the pricing committee might adopt suggested list prices, but the sales executive is the one responsible for informing distributors and dealers and obtaining their conformance. Responsibility for administering prices should be assigned to the sales executive, because the sales department has the closest relationship with the market.
4. Relations with Distribution Management
Distribution policies are major determinants of the breadth and complexity of the sales department’s organization and functions. Selection of a marketing channel, or channels, sets the pattern for sales force operations, both geographically and as to the classes of customers. It is also necessary to determine the number of outlets for the product at each distribution level, and this affects the size and nature of the manufacturer’s sales organization and the scope of its activities. Furthermore, marketing management determines policies on the amount and extent of cooperation it desires with members of the distributive network—also influencing the size of the sales force, the nature of the salesperson’s job, the need for sales supervision, and the like. Because of the impact of distribution policies upon the sales organization and its activities, sales executives play key roles in providing information needed for their formulation, since they are responsible for implementation of these policies.
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.