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Module 1: Success in Sales

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Selling-Economy and Company

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Selling: Economy and Company

International Selling

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in sales and sales-related occupations will increase to almost 17 million by 2018. That translates to one in every ten people in the United States having a job in sales.[1] Other estimates, such as the Selling Power Magazine’s annual report of America’s Top 500 Sales Forces in 2008, puts the total number of salespeople at the top 500 companies at over twenty million for the first time. [2]

The bigger story is the fact that many companies sell their products and services globally. Multinational corporations (MNCs), large companies that have operations, including selling, in several countries, [3] such as Procter & Gamble, Dell, Reebok, and Kraft Foods, employed 32 million workers in 2007.[4]

Although not all these employees are engaged in selling, the number helps provide some sense of relativity as to the proportional impact of international business. Most large MNCs have offices (including sales offices) in many foreign countries. This provides the company with the opportunity to become integrated into the culture, customs, and business practices of each country in which it has operations.

A large number of MNCs generate a significant portion of their sales from countries outside the United States. If you’ve traveled outside the United States, think about the products you saw. Companies such as Coca-Cola, eBay, Gillette, KFC, and Starbucks have a significant presence in foreign countries.

Many companies expand selling to international markets for several reasons, including slow population growth in their domestic country, increased competition, opportunity for growth and profit, and sometimes, out of sheer necessity due to the fact that globalization is rapidly changing the economic landscape. [5]

In the past, expansion to foreign markets was limited to large corporations that could make the investment required to locate offices and operations abroad.

The Internet, has provided that same opportunity to small- and medium-sized companies, so that they may sell products and services internationally. Why would small companies want to do this? With only a one-to-five proportion of Internet users living in the United States, almost 80 percent of Internet users live in places abroad; thus, there is a much larger market to be found by way of the Internet.

Selling internationally is not as simple as just setting up a Web site. Language, shipping, currency exchange, and taxes are just some of the costs and considerations necessary for selling products and services internationally via the Internet. To help companies overcome these barriers, organizations such as e-commerce service provider, FiftyOne, offer technology solutions that manage important components of international selling. [6]

Think about the possibilities. When companies such as Overstock.com want to sell globally, companies like FiftyOne have a selling opportunity. [7] In other words, selling products and services can generate more opportunities for selling other products and services in the future. When companies and salespeople think creatively and see the environment through the customer’s eyes, they can identify selling opportunities that might not otherwise exist.

The Internet: selling process

The Internet expands the reach of a company to virtually anywhere in the world, it also provides customers with access to information, products, and services that they never had before. In some industries, the Internet has virtually eliminated the need for a salesperson.

Travel agents are no longer the exclusive providers of reservations and travel plans. Music stores are almost extinct. Newspaper want ads have almost vanished. In other industries, the relationship of the salesperson and customer has changed dramatically.

The power has shifted from the seller to the buyer.


Inthe auto industry used to be that when you wanted to buy a car, you went to a car dealership. The salesperson would show you the cars, take you out on a test drive, and then negotiate the selling price when you were ready to buy, holding the dealer invoice close to the vest.

Today, customers may e-mail a car dealership to set up an appointment to drive a specific car after they have researched different models of cars including features, benefits, competitive models, editor and customer reviews, competitive pricing, and dealer invoice pricing. In some cases, the customer may know more than the salesperson. [8]

Sales 2.0 describes a new way of thinking about the role of the Internet in the selling process as it encompasses the impact of changing technology and multiple electronic devices, and user-generated content on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

The shift of power to the customer is underscored by Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder and CEO of Selling Power, Inc. According to him, “Sales 2.0 gives the customer a 360-degree view of the company and provides sales organizations with a variety of tools that help manage that two-way communication process.”[10]

According to Tim Sullivan, director of intellectual property and information for Sales Performance International, these Internet-based changes pose new implications for sales.

Customers are actively involved in engagement and interaction to seek information. Just as customers use social media as tools to learn about a product, companies can use these tools to learn about customers.

It’s a new mind-set and new technology tools are constantly changing the landscape-salespeople must be prepared to adjust their reactions accordingly. [9]

Selling: It’s a State of Mind

Sold, it’s a deal, let’s shake on it, sign on the dotted line.

Those are the words that signal success in selling. They seem simple, but according to Gerry Tabio, bringing a sale [11] to fruition is “not just about celebrating the sale; it’s about celebrating the growth of the customer.” [12] The most successful companies work to build and sustain relationships with the customer at every touch point, any way in which the company comes in contact with the customer, and consider selling the job of everyone in the organization. In other words, although there are specific functional departments such as sales, marketing, operations, human resources, finance, and others, everyone in the organization is focused on the customer. This is called a customer-centric organization. [13]

Being customer-centric means insisting on accountability. Although everyone is focused on the customer, every employee is part of a department.

In a customer-centric organization,
the departments work together to
satisfy the needs of the customer
and achieve the company objectives. In a customer-centric organization, the focus on the customer helps prevent organizational “silos” (i.e., when departments work independently of each other and focus only on their individual goals).

Most companies have core functions or departments such as sales, customer service, marketing, operations, finance, human resources, product development, and supply chain management.

Departments such as finance and human resources are called support, since they provide support for sales and customer service [14]

The sales department is the heartbeat of every company. According to Selling Power Magazine, the manufacturing and service companies listed on its “Power Selling 500 Report” generate $6.7 trillion dollars in sales annually. Each salesperson supports an average of 12.9 other jobs within the company. [15]

This means that the level of sales that is generated by each salesperson actually pays for the roles in human resources, marketing, operations, and other departments. It makes sense that the salespeople fund the operations of the company.

The people in the sales department are responsible and accountable to deliver sales to generate revenue and profit. In fact, the sales department is considered so important that even in this difficult economy, companies should continue to fill open sales positions even if they are not hiring
in other departments. [16]

Without a healthy and strong sales department, companies can wither and die.

Sales or Marketing?

if the sales department interacts with customers, what exactly does the marketing department do? That’s a great question. Some people use the terms in tandem - sales and marketing - to refer to sales and some use the terms interchangeably and refer to marketing as sales. According to the American Marketing Association, “marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” [17] In other words, it is the role of the marketing department to use the four P’s (Product, Place, Promotion, and Price) to determine the brand message. [18]

The marketing department uses the elements of the promotional mix of advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, interactive marketing, and personal selling to get the word out to customers. [19]

Marketers seek to motivate prospective customers to purchase by driving them to a Web site, store, phone, event, or another related, desired action.

Essentially, marketing builds relationships between customers and the brand. When you see an online ad, get a text message about a new movie release, post a comment on the Best Buy Facebook page, respond to a tweet from Best Buy on Twitter, see a newspaper insert or an ad on television, or read about the opening of a new store near year you, these are all examples of marketing.

They are designed to encourage you to engage with the brand and encourage you to take an action-visit the store, go to the Web site, or tell your friends about the brand.

When you go into the store or visit the web site, it’s the sales department that takes over. A salesperson will speak with you to determine what you need and to help you make the best decision by communicating product information, service information, warranty information, and other pertinent facts.

The salesperson extends the relationship that was established with the marketing contacts and makes a personal connection with you. If you have a good experience, your relationship with the store or web site gets even better, and you are more likely to shop there again and tell your friends.

At times, however, sales and marketing don’t play well together.

When organizations are not customer-centric, the departments may appear to have separate or conflicting goals.

Marketing may feel that sales doesn’t follow up on prospective customers, or perhaps sales feels that the marketing efforts are focused on the wrong customers.

In addition to closing the sale, the salesperson has a very important role in the marketing process. Because the salesperson (in the store, online, or on the phone) is a primary touch point and a personal interaction with the customer, the salesperson is the brand in the eyes of the customer. Marketing and sales work hand-in-hand: one develops the brand and the other assumes the image of the brand. Neither works without the other, and the relationship between the functions must be transparent to the customer.

According to Dr. David A. Shore of Harvard University, “The sales force is the most visible manifestation of the brand. Salespeople need to say with a singular voice, ‘This is who we are, and, by extension, this is who we are not.’ The critical element that power brands have is trust, and a sales force needs to become the trusted advisor to the customer.”[20]

There’s only one brand in the eyes of the customer, not two departments. When marketing and sales work well together, the customer experience is seamless.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Sales is a career opportunity for you to consider; one in ten people in the United States has a job in sales or a sales-related occupation.

In this global economy, many companies sell products in multiple countries around the world. Many multinational corporations have sales offices in foreign countries, and large and small companies sell globally by using the Internet.

Sales 2.0 is a term that is used to refer to the ever-changing technology, such as social networking, that is changing the relationship salespeople have with customers. It’s important to understand how technology can support your communication and collaboration with customers. A customer-centric organization has the customer as the focal point. You work as a team with all functions in the company to provide products and services that meet customers’ needs.

Sales and marketing are two distinct but closely related functions. Sales converts the customer to a purchaser with one-on-one interaction. Marketing determines the brand message and uses the elements of the promotion mix to motivate the customer to take an action. Both work together to build ongoing relationships with customers.

Exercises

Identify a company that you think is customer-centric and one that is not. Identify at least three touch points for each company.

Think about the difference between sales and marketing. Choose one of your favorite retail brands and list one example of sales and one example of marketing.

Bibliography

[1] United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment by Major Occupational Group, 2008 and Projected 2018,” Economic News Release Table 5, 2009, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t05.htm (accessed May 6, 2010).

[2] “Selling Power 500: America’s 500 Largest Sales Forces,” Selling Power, October 2008, 52.
[4] Bureau of Economic Analysis, International Economic Accounts, “Summary Estimates for Multinational Companies: Employment, Sales, and Capital Expenditures for 2007,” April 17, 2009, http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/international/mnc/2009/mnc2007.htm(accessed June 5, 2009).
[5] George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing and Communications Perspective, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 653–54.
[6] FiftyOne, http://www.fiftyone.com/solution (accessed June 5, 2009).
[7] Caroline McCarthy, “Overstock.com Will Extend Reach to Canada, Europe,” CNET News Blog, http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9933344-7.html (accessed June 5, 2009).

[8] Robert McGarvey and Babs S. Harrison, “The Human Element: How the Web Brings People Together in an Integrated Selling System,” Selling Power 20, no. 8,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/article.php?a=5566 (accessed March 16, 2010).

[9] Heather Baldwin, “What Does Sales 2.0 Mean for You?” Selling Power Sales Management eNewsletter, March 3, 2008,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=801 (accessed March 16, 2010).

[10] Selling Power, Sales 2.0 Newsletter, September 18, 2008,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=868 (accessed June 21, 2010).

[11] BNET Business Dictionary, “Sales,” BNET,http://dictionary.bnet.com/definition/Sales.html?tag=col1;rbDictionary (accessed June 5, 2009).

[12] Gerry Tabio, “How to Create Ideas That Sell,” presentation at Greater Media Philadelphia Sales Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, May 15, 2009.

[13] Barry Welford, “7 Habits of a Truly Customer-Centric Selling Organization,” SMM Internet Marketing Consultants Newsletter 13, http://www.smmbc.ca/newsletter-13.htm(accessed June 5, 2009).

[14] BusinessDictionary.com, “Staff Function,”http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/staff-function.html (accessed June 8, 2009).

[15] “Selling Power 500: America’s 500 Largest Sales Forces,” Selling Power, October 2008, 53.

[16] Elaine Pofeldt, “Empty Desk Syndrome: How to Handle a Hiring Freeze,” Inc., May 1, 2008, http://www.inc.com/magazine/20080501/empty-desk-syndrome.html (accessed June 7, 2009).

[17] American Marketing Association, “About AMA,” October 2007,http://www.marketingpower.com/AboutAMA/Pages/DefinitionofMarketing.aspx?sq=definition+of+marketing (accessed June 6, 2009).

[19] George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 10.
20] Gerhard Gschwandtner, “How Power Brands Sell More,” Selling Power 21, no. 3,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/article.php?a=5705 (accessed March 16, 2010).