Time spent with customers/total time

Figure 7.7 Impact on sales of the time spent face-to-face with customers for 18 sales representatives of a major telecommunications services firm.

interesting candidates. Then, the type of compensation must not only reflect results (orders) but also the need for quality relationships with customers and the desire to remain with the company on a long-term basis.

Many high-technology companies have compensation systems with a fairly high percentage of fixed salary compared to commission (on the average, 80% fixed and 20% commission). Some companies even offer an income completely based upon salary so that salespeople are not tempted to sell just anything to assure them of an income at the end of the month.

Finally, salespeople must be continuously well informed and trained [24] about new products in order to present them intelligently to their prospects and customers and to answer their questions correctly. However, staying well informed about new products is not an easy task, because product catalogues are often drastically changed in the high-technology industry due to the frequent launching of new products. Furthermore, many salespeople merely keep up with products that they already know well and that tend to sell, and propose only those products to their customers. This behaviour impedes new products with which the sales force is less familiar and encourages a dangerous habit.

Consequently, the rate at which new products are announced and the high degree of innovation of many high-technology products require a hefty investment in the training of salespeople, such as in the information systems business where companies invest between 10% and 15% of their salary budget on training, of which a large part is dedicated to their sales force. This high level of training costs can also be found in other high-technology sectors.

Besides, one of the roles of the marketing department is to supply the sales department with the necessary resources for this training (such as instructors, training manuals, product documentation, and cassettes) to ensure that the messages communicated to the salespeople match the marketing strategy.

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