We mentioned in the beginning of this chapter the important contribution of a salesperson to the society and to the organization ,Let us now further elaborate and examine the role that he or she plays or is expected to play in the contemporary market situation the outset it is necessary to note that the salesperson has an obligation to the customer and his organization Hence , we see his role as shown in the figure
This involves a salesperson in probing and finding the cause of a problem .Like an expert doctor, a sales person diagnoses the needs of his or her customers ..He or she also diagnoses the competitive forces present in the territory and their impact on his or her product’s share. Another area of diagnoses is the strength and weakness of the competitors sales team and distribution in the territory. Further more, he or she diagnoses the major development in the territory and their implication to his or her firm’s marketing.
For example, migration of people from one area to another are; or the increasing popularity of cable T.V. in his or her are ;or the opening of a new shopping plaza, etc are some of the trends which an alert salesperson is able to perceive .Not only is the salesperson able to perceive these trends but is also able to understand their implications for his or her organization.
Having diagnosed the need or the market forces the salesperson needs to analyse customer needs and market trends and identify the linkages, if any. For example , he or she needs to analyse the customer situation and its implication for his or her organization .Likewise , he or she needs to analyse the t5rends in the market share of competitors and his or her organization over the last several time periods.
The salesperson is expected to play the role of an intelligence agent .In this role he or she is expected to keep the management posted of any significant developments in the territory .For example ,has there been any shift in the competitor’s strategy or tactics? Has any new competitor entered the territory? Has the competitor announced any new trade incentive policy? Any changes in customer situation like expansion or diversification? Or any change in persons responsible for buying? The management looks upon salespeople to provide them with these and several other such customer and competitor information.
The customer also wants the salesperson to provide information on the product, competition ; new developments in the product area. etc Thus the customer wants to keep abreast of developments and he sees salespersons as a provider of information in all those areas.
Another role of the salesperson is that of a strategist. He or she being the “soldier in the field” or the “ man in command” .has to evolve a strategy that can help him or her to be a market leader. Since all other elements of the marketing mix are outside of his or her decision arena., the only element that he or her can control are the time and route planning .For example ,a salesperson may time the announcement of a price change in his or her territory in such a way that it will give the firm maximum benefit, Likewise evolving a strategy to sell to an aggressive customer is the role of a salesperson.
A salesperson is also a tactician In the sense that he or she evolves tactics to win over the customer or to enhance dealer satisfaction. Tactics are short-term action plan flowing from the strategy , which is a long0term action plan. For example choice of words in the face to face negotiation with the customer is a matter of tactics ,Or how much and when to give in is again a matter of tactic, So, a salesperson has to be good at tactics if he or she wants to succeed.
Last, we see a salesperson as a change agent in the market or the territory in which hen or she operates ,For it is he or she who introduces new product ideas and influences the life-styles and consumption patterns by making new products and services available in the territory and influencing opinion leaders to accept them and recommend the same to others .As we said earlier , the modern society owes a lot to salespeople , for it is they who help upgrade lifestyle and the quality of living.
Thus, the role of a salesperson in today’s world is much more than the conventional role of order taking.
29th September 2005 From India, Gurgaon
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