Managing its sales force effectively to perform better is the major responsibility - and challenge -- that sales managers face constantly; continuously motivating sales teams, designing a win-win compensation and incentive plan, co-ordinating marketing and sales effort are some of the challenges that they face routinely. The sales manager's role has gradually been expanding from just supervising the sales team to leading and seeking out opportunites to increase performance beyond the sales target.
All this and more including case studies were discussed at two-day third annual sales force management conference that opened in Mumbai today.
Organised by Marcus Evans Conferences from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the conference had an eminent panel of speakers who analysed the current and the future; the best practices in managing a sales force and the latest trends and technological tools available in the market for effective sales force management.
With a brief introduction to the day's programme Sanjiv Swarup, president, Synergy Consultants, invited Rajesh Bhojani, senior vice president, projects, Birla Sun Life Insurance, who highlighted the evolving role of sales managers in adding value to organisations and emphasised the need to retain people.
"The toughest job today in any industry is to retain people as competitors are always poaching on each others territory. Retaining people is a process that can be developed and team leader can be made responsible for this task," Bhojani stressed.
About increasing awareness and sales of a product, he added, "In transactional selling it is important for the company to do brand building and a product must be easily available. Production innovation and rewarding loyal customers is a part of increasing sales." He cited the example of Apple I pod, how the company made an effort to innovate and turnaround a simple MP3 player to make it distinctive.
He also stressed upon how sales people are very important inspite of increasing sales being done through the internet. "A sales executive is someone who helps people choose and buy. He helps a client make a choice and also gain confidence that if something goes wrong, the client can go back to him, hence they must be nurtured. Quarterly training is a must for effective sales and one must not hesitate to over communicate as it is better to be seen and heard (especially regarding incentives) for the sales team to be motivated."
Bhojani also explained in detail the concept of flying doctors, a team that is formed to find out why sales are not happening and help to increase sales. "They can work as agents to bring about change."
Tashwinder Singer, managing director, commercial relationships, Citigroup discussed in detail key account management by quoting examples from the Citigroup. "Often key account management is ignored but it is an emerging system of increasing sales," he said. He also explained how Citigroup segregated their customers into three groups for more effective sales: large customers (this group needs to know that it is being treated differently), the medium customers and the small customers. He emphasised that the small customer group should not be ignored as they have the potential to grow.
He further explained how account planning could be highly effective if there was customer involvement and strict follow ups and discipline in the sales management process.