Edited by Gary L. Lilien and Rajdeep Grewal
Chapter 28: Building a Winning Sales Force in B2B Markets: A Managerial Perspective
Andris A. Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha and Sally E. Lorimer THE POWER OF PERSONAL SELLING IN B2B ENVIRONMENTS The ability to create and sustain strong relationships with customers is a key success factor in B2B markets. Sales forces can be highly effective at communicating and delivering value to business customers and consequently help a company achieve its financial goals. According to a 2009 Selling Power magazine survey, companies such as Microsoft, Xerox, Cisco, IBM and General Electric (GE), all of which generate a large majority of their revenues though B2B sales, each have more than 14 000 salespeople in the United States alone. By our estimates (Zoltners et al. 2009), the amount invested in US sales forces exceeds $800 billion a year, more than three times the $241 billion spent on all media advertising (Barclay’s Capital 2009) and 35 times the $22.7 billion spent on online advertising in 2009 (IAB 2010). On average, companies invest about 10 per cent of their annual revenues in their sales forces to pay for salaries, benefits, taxes, bonuses, travel expenses, computers and other administrative and field support for salespeople and their managers. The significance of the sales force goes beyond its cost. The sales force is perhaps the most highly empowered organization within many companies. Usually working alone and unsupervised, salespeople are entrusted with a company’s most important asset: its relationship with its customers. Often salespeople have considerable control over this relationship; to some customers, the salesperson is the company. Because of the sales force’s...
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