Sales management is carried out largely through communication oral and written. And it is truly a two way process. The sales manager lets his men know what they are expected to achieve, how they are performing and how they can improve better. He also keeps them informed of what is happening in the company – to the products, to production, distribution, promotion and profitability. The salesmen, in turn, keep the sales manager informed of what is happening in the market and how the sales and marketing programs of the firm are progressing. In the field sales situation, communication cannot be always face-to-face as in factory/office situations. Sales persons work independently and away from the office.
Good sales communication can be of particular help in the resolution of sales conflicts. In any sales organization, different types of conflicts keep arising from time to time. These can be between a salesman and his dealers, or between one salesman and another. All such conflicts become less pronounced with good sales communication.
To ensure good sales communication, the sales manager must have an insight into the salesmen’s problems and be able to grasp the real meaning of what they say and do. He must also be a good listener in order to be a good communicator. Effective sales communication should involve a good mixture of face-to-face communication with the sales force as well as written sales reports.
Sales reports are a useful tool in sales administration, implementation, control and coordination and are also useful tools of sales communication. That is why they become a vital part of the salesman’s job and their effective perusal a vital part of the sales manager’s job.
A variety of reports are usually called for from the salesmen. Together they should provide a total picture of sales made, stock levels with warehouses and dealers, promotional effectiveness, customer behavior trends and competitors’ activities/market intelligence.
Salesmen’s reports can classified broadly into periodic or regular reports and special reports. The regular reports may be on daily or weekly or monthly basis. They cover salesmen’s travel plans, work plans, completed tour reports, sales reports, activity reports and market intelligence reports. The depth and complexity of these reports from firm to firm. As regards special reports, the nature and content vary from regular. Some firms, for example, insist on special on special reports on all ‘lost sales’. Some firms leave it to the salesman to decide when and on what matter to file special reports to the branch manager or the home office.
The sales supervisor or the field sales manager may use salesmen’s reports for a variety of purposes – to analyze sales, to measure performance against sales quotas, to assess salesmen’s expenses and effectiveness, to understand market conditions and competition and to control the sales budget. Plan your work, work your plan is the dictum given to salesman by most firms. The sales reports facilitate the sales supervisor and the sales manager to see how far the salesmen plan their work and work their plan.