“Sales management” originally referred exclusively to the direction of sales force personnel. Later, the term took on broader significance—in addition to the management of personal selling, “sales management” meant management of all marketing activities, including advertising, sales promotion, marketing research, physical distribution, pricing, and product merchandising. In time, businesses, adopting academic practice, came to use the term “marketing management” rather than “sales management” to describe the broader concept. Then, the Definitions Committee of the American Mar-keting Association agreed that sales management meant “the planning, direction, and control of personal selling, including recruiting, selecting, equipping, assigning, routing, supervising, paying, and motivating as these tasks apply to the personal salesforce.”1
The American Marketing Association’s definition made sales management synonymous with management of the sales force, but modern sales managers have considerably broader responsibilities. Sales managers are in charge of personal-selling activity, and their primary assignment is management of the personal sales force. However, personnel-related tasks do not comprise their total responsibility, so we call their personnel-related responsibilities “sales force management.”
Sales managers are responsible for organizing the sales effort, both within and outside their companies. Within the company, the sales manager builds formal and informal organizational structures that ensure effective communication not only inside the sales department but in its relations with other organizational units. Outside the company, the sales manager serves as a key contact with customers and other external publics and is responsible for building and maintaining an effective distribution network.
Sales managers have still other responsibilities. They are responsible for participating in the preparation of information critical to the making of key marketing decisions, such as those on budgeting, sales quotas, and territories. They participate—to an extent that varies with the company—in decisions on products, marketing channels and distribution policies, advertising and other promotion, and pricing. Thus, the sales manager is both an administrator in charge of personal-selling activity and a member of the executive group that makes marketing decisions of all types.
Sales management is a vital function in many kinds of enterprises. Manufacturing and wholesaling businesses encounter a broad range of problems in sales management. Retail institutions, small and large, have sales management problems, even though the differences (when compared to the problems of manufacturers and wholesalers) are so great that retailing problems (at least in the academic world) are ordinarily considered separately. But some retailers have sales management problems more akin to those of manufacturers and wholesalers than to those of other retailers—the computer hardware dealer, the pharmaceutical distributor, and the direct-to-consumer marketer all are in this category. Firms selling intangibles, such as the insurance company, the consultant, the mutual fund, and the airline have problems in sales management.
Sales management problems exist even in companies not employing sales personnel as, for example, in the company that uses manufacturers’ agents (rather than its own sales personnel) to reach its markets; indeed, the problems of managing a sales force of “independent outsiders” often are more complex than when sales personnel are on the company payroll.
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.