The sales force may be structured according to territory, product or customer or a combination of these (Figure 11.9). The most common form of industrial sales organization is geographical. Here, each sales person sells all of the firm's products in a defined area. By reducing travel distance and time between customers, this method usually minimizes costs. Likewise, sales people know clearly the customers and prospects that fall within their area of responsibility. However, each sales person must be able to perform all of the selling tasks for all customers in that territory. A product-oriented sales organization is one in which each sales person specializes in relatively narrow components of the total product line and, hence, becomes more adept at communicating
with members of buying centres. By learning the specific requirements of a particular industry, the sales person is more prepared to identify and respond to buying influences.
There is a trend in many large successful companies to convert some regional or local sales forces into autonomous marketing staff under the strict guidance of the marketing department. Giving the sales force more autonomy is an attractive option for some companies. It means shifting from calling on distributors, retailers and other customers to spending more time meeting advertising agency creative directors and media buyers to create local advertising campaigns. More specifically, it allows for the possibility of better category management and more direct communication with large retail accounts, as discussed elsewhere in this book.
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