Given their importance to business success, why do salespeople have such low status?


Let’s begin by defining personal selling and putting it in context. It is an element in the marketing communications mix, the face-to-face interaction between a buyer and a seller for the purpose of satisfying buyer needs to the benefit of both.

Bearden et al (2001) state that, “Personal selling contributes to a firm’s marketing efforts by producing sales revenue, meeting buyer expectations, and providing marketplace information. The key to successful marketing lies in understanding customer requirements and then matching the firm’s offerings to those requirements. Because salespeople are often the most direct link between a firm and it’s customers, they can heavily influence whether or not the firm succeeds.”

Business people everywhere know that gross revenue is the first line on the financial statements. That figure, as we have seen, is heavily influenced by the firm’s marketing and sales people. And savvy marketers now know that most marketing takes place not at the business level where strategy is determined, but on the front lines where mostly lower level staff have the unending task of micro-differentiating their firm.

Zoltners et al (2009) remind us that, “salespeople are entrusted with a company’s most important asset-its relationship with its customers-they have a significant and often determining impact on organizational success.”

If personal selling, whether by inside order takers, order creators or order generators, is so important to the firm’s success, why does the sales profession have such low status in our Caribbean region?

Herman Alvaranga educates marketing and sales people.


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