Sales

Resources for Improving Sales Operations

  • What is Sales?

    Sales Departments are responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with customers. They work with the Marketing function to nurture leads through the sales funnel, from the discovery of a product or service down through purchase (and repeat purchases). Modern salespeople use various methods to reach customers, including email, phone, social media, direct mail, and even the old fashioned door-to-door tactic. In some cases, sales representatives are supported by technical subject matter experts and administrative employees to ensure that they spend the majority of their time on high-value customer interactions.
  • The History of Sales

    Prior to inventions such as electricity, telephones and the Internet, nearly all sales activities took place in the ‘field.’ Salesmen who operated away from a physical place of business have existed for centuries. Most of those early salesmen, however, were also producers of the goods they sold. Peddlers, for example, carried their wares around with them and sold to any willing customer they encountered. Modern sales management did not begin to become sophisticated until the late eighteenth century. The rapid expansion of the United States, along with the simultaneous growth of transportation networks, encouraged the development of Field Sales Groups. In the late nineteenth century, John H. Patterson of National Cash Register promoted the idea of “scientific” salesmanship (similar to the scientific management ideas of Frederick Winslow Taylor). By the early twentieth century, sales, as many business activities, became a focus of study to optimize techniques and procedures. Since the 1920s salesmen have been at the center of the US economy and, arguably, are the representatives of American capitalism.
  • Modern Trends in Sales

    More people work in sales today than ever before. In 2000, salespeople were about 12% of the total employed workforce (including both Inside and Outside Sales workers). Globalization has increased the pressure on sales groups, especially field salesmen. Face-to-face meetings with international customers are considerably more expensive and difficult than meetings with local or even national customers. As a result, today’s sales groups must improve the efficiency of their processes and procedures to remain competitive in global markets.

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