Sales is the business of selling goods or services. Often referred to as personal selling, sales involves communicating with potential customers, informing them about certain products and persuading them to buy. Sales management is essentially about maximising a company’s sales to the recipient organisations. Sales is a direct function.
The actual act of selling a product follows marketing activities like brand building and awareness creation. It is the beginning of the revenue cycle for the company. When a purchase order is made, a sale is generated. It is completed when the goods or services are supplied, billed and payment collected. Selling has been practised for thousands of years. The earliest remains of prehistoric people indicate that they traded in various products. Many of the earliest writings are sales orders and other commercial records, indicating that ancient people had a complex trade network. The industrial revolution of the 1700s and early 1800s underlined the importance of selling. As nations expanded and economies grew, a salesperson’s duties and responsibilities changed. Selling became recognised as a profession that requires special training and skills. With the expansion of new markets, selling has become increasingly international in its scope of activity
What do they do?
No other profession is as target-driven as that of sales. One good thing about this is that a salesperson knows exactly what he has to achieve. He knows he has made it if he works out the most profitable route to success. It was this challenge that drew Mayank Seth to the profession.
Seth went for MBA after studying mechanical engineering and joined a Hyderabad-based IT firm as a business development executive in 2004. His first salary was Rs 10,000. Today, as a business development manager in CMC Limited, he earns around Rs 50,000 a month.
When it comes to sales, the scope of work is unlimited. “As the economy diversifies more and more into the services sector, the role of a salesman keeps expanding. Everything that needs to be sold to an end-user —whether a physical product or services — requires sales personnel,” says Sudhir Saxena, vice-president and head, sales, NR, CMC Limited.
To do this well, one has to be completely tuned in to the market, “understand the overall market in terms of consumer behaviour, size of the potential customer segment, sales channels and the competitive market dynamics”, says Salil Kapoor, chief operating officer, Dish TV, and former national sales head at Samsung Electronics.
Being a good salesperson, however, is not enough if one aspires to become a good manager. Every salesman does not become a manager.
“Typically, a salesperson would require product knowledge, should have the patience to listen to his customers and consumers,” says Sanjay Sibal, vice-president, sales and marketing, Jenson & Nicholson.
“But as he progresses and becomes a manger, he would need good people skills. He would need to get work done by the team rather than do it himself. And that’s the key,” Sibal adds.
Good sales managers are not exactly abundant in the country right now. “There is definitely a gap between the demand and supply of good sales managers here,” says Kapoor. “The reason could be that our education system [especially that in B-schools] does not train one properly in sales skills. In B-schools, the curriculum includes sales management as an optional subject and that, too, with dated course material.
“Most sales personnel move into that role either because they have the aptitude for it or because they have nothing better to do,” believes Kapoor. “There are very few who are genuinely interested in pursuing a sales career and undergo adequate preparation or training for the same.”
Source: HT Horizons
. Command over language, both spoken and written
. Ability to persuade and influence people
. Awareness of general business scenario
. A knack of listening well
. Ability to devise and offer solutions to the customer’s problem areas
. Analytical ability
. Good reasoning power
. Skill with numbers
. Basic computer knowledge and good presentation skills, especially PowerPoint
How do I get there?
- Should have a graduate degree in any field. The ideal qualification, however, is a degree/diploma in business studies, like MBA
- Earlier, you could find sales mangers without a management degree. But nowadays, a management degree is a must for making rapid progress in a career in sales and marketing
- There are, however, instances where ordinary graduates with the right aptitude but no formal marketing qualification have become immensely successful in their profession