Academic journal article Review of Business

New Trends in Business-to-Business Sales Require Interdynamic Integration

Academic journal article Review of Business

New Trends in Business-to-Business Sales Require Interdynamic Integration

Article excerpt

New Trends in Business-to-Business Sales Require Interdynamic Integration

Introduction

Ten years ago, personal salespeople in business-to-business activity would have scoffed at the idea of using direct marketing techniques as a sales approach applicable for an industrial customer. In fact, it was considered that these tools were only for the use of companies selling items to mass markets. Today, these tools have been integrated into the fabric of more than half of the Fortune 500 companies as part of their normal way of conducting business[7, p. 2].

The thesis of this article is that the role of the personal salesperson is in a process of dramatic change. Her or his role in the process will be that of a team member, no longer the individual "star." The purpose then, is to examine the changing role of the individual in industrial sales and to see how the highly sophisticated techniques available to the "team" are increasingly changing the interaction that may occur with the "client" before closure.

When we look at business-to-business selling concepts in 1990 and beyond, we must change our frame of reference from a theory of "personal" towards one of "interdynamic" selling. It will become important to realize that today's merchandiser is a member of a sales team who "integrates" several different methods in order to complete a successful sale. For example, an initial sale may be the result of a response to direct mail activity, transferred to a salesperson or a telemarketing group for closure. Dictaphone uses the technique and turns to their dealer network for further contact.

Referrals may also come through the creation of an MGM (member-get-member) program, if the customer is satisfied with the product received. Trading-up and cross selling are also techniques which are now used in industrial sales to encourage the customer, post-sale, to buy a better model or to increase the total purchase[7, p. 372].

While these last two techniques are not necessarily new to selling, they are new in the sense that they may now be accomplished by in-house sellers, rather than the personal salesperson who originally called on the customer. These are examples of techniques that would not have been tolerated before, because of assumed interference with the salesperson's relationship with the customer. The end result is that promotional activity resulting in sales has become an integrated program where advertising, direct marketing, and personal selling have become highly intertwined. The result is a complete strategy of promotion at far lower cost than one-on-one selling. The challenge for the business marketer is to create an advertising and sales promotion strategy that effectively blends with personal selling efforts in order to achieve sales and profit objectives.

The Problem

Personal selling has commonly been thought of as the process where the buyer and seller conducts communication in a face-to-face encounter. However, because of advances in telecommunications, personal selling also occurs over the telephone, through video teleconferencing (enhanced by the movement of documents through fax machines), and through interactive computer links between buyers and sellers.

If we identify the classic roles of the outside representative as those of identification of new customers, acquiring product specifications, giving out catalogs and accumulating intelligence, writing large orders, and having primary responsibility for high potential accounts, then the personal salesperson has ceased to exist in many types of industry. The function of order taking by the salesperson has been greatly reduced because of increasing costs and technological methods available to perform the same types of activities. Now it is not uncommon for orders solicited through the cold call to be so expensive that the cost of the call exceeds the list price of the product.

Sales costs must continue to decrease; time must be better organized and sales ratios improved. …

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