Sales – A General Understanding

In business operations, marketing is an essential part of operations and handles the role of understanding and meeting the needs of the customers. Marketing helps in identifying potential buying segments, understanding the needs and plan the approach of offering the services to meet the needs.
Marketing will be a plat form of approaching the customer base (market segments) by creating awareness and knowledge of the product.

Sales basically help in reaching out to the customer and help in making the services available when the customer is looking for it.

Broadly classifying the sales types and contexts:

  • Product driven sales and customer (or service) driven sales
  • Business to Business entities sales (B2B), Business to Customer Sales (B2B), Business to Government institution sales (B2G)
  • Domestic and International Sales
  • Sales of Manufactured Products; Services (hospitality, entertainment logistics etc); IT/ITES and Pharmaceutical

The sales contexts are different in each of the above case:
In a product driven sale the challenge is to convince the customer about the utility and benefits of the product as compared to other products in the market (in few cases with the product itself when the product is standalone product in the market).
In a service driven sale, the challenge is to convince the customer about the team skill sets, experience and successful projects delivered to the client base.

In B2B sales, the sales strength lies in the skills to convince the customer about the product or service. The sales team will basically convince about the factors that usually are considered in making a decision about the vendor – Quality, Team skills, past experience, client base, product / service demo and pricing.
The distribution channel is also a key factor for effective sales reach.

In B2C sales the majority of the sales depend upon the appeal the product or service created and the promising features in the product. It could be a FMCG product, hospitality or consumer durables. The other factors in effective sales are strength of the distribution channel and the brand communication.

In B2G the sales skill lies in the understanding of the government project requirements, ability to handle pressure and negotiation skills on pricing.

Domestic Sales is broadly dependent upon the local sales and distribution strength; it could be online or offline sales, brand promotion, distributions channel and reach.
In International sales it basically depends upon the online visibility (online sales strength) of the company and the services/products offered, identifying the right market & sales approach in terms of the local office or partner.

The sales approach is different for different industry segments. Manufactured products are dependent mainly on the distribution strength. IT/ITES is dependent on the online visibility and sales team strength, pharmaceutical is dependent upon the local sales team and the certifications for the product; credibility, affiliations, and recognitions of the company.

The general problems in sales are:

Operational Problems

In sales operations, there is always a dilemma in choosing the market segment, size and region a company wants to focus on. In such a situation the company will be allocating its resources in terms of sales team, sales budget and time intended to meet the sales target. When market has been precisely targeted there will not be any sales operations problems. Problem may arise only when the market does not yield the desired result. In such an instance, prior to starting the sales; market analysis will help in reducing problems of misjudgment of market.

The factors that need to be considered are earlier sales figures (for the company, competitors and industry size) generated from the market segments, competitors in the market and trend of product in terms of demand, external business environment conditions. The factors are simple but often companies miss out on this analysis and lose the market share and sales efforts.

Meeting the Sales Target
In general companies have set sales targets in terms of revenue and volume. The sales team is always under pressure to meet the stipulated target. In sales intuitive approach of reaching customers (based on understanding of the product  and its users) yields better results than fixing up a market segmented and approaching the sales.

The sales team should often tactically handle time duration in sales cycle, choosing between sales leads, pricing (bargaining), customization, any new factor and receivables. If the sales team can build the skills sets in discretion of decision making and demarcation of lenience to the client; it can effectively build a quality client base that can be relied upon for the sustainable business growth.

Sales at an individuals VS group level:

Sales at an individual level is, understanding the genuine needs of the customer and offering a solution that best suits the client’s requirement. Here the sales person will bring in his skills in convincing about the expertise and quality of the service along with negotiation skill.

Sales activities at a group level are dividing the targeted market within the group to reach the market efficiently within the stipulated time to generate an impact in the market. Sales at an organization level is utilizing the marketing platform and meeting the sales target; bringing in inputs in terms of market and product feedback and in turn yield continuous improvement in the product and the marketing efficiency.

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