Good communications within the sales force are essential to the maintenance of salesmen's morale and to ensure that the company's management are kept fully informed of the market's reaction to its policies and the acceptability of its products.

Part of the task of the Sales Manager is to prescribe the methods by which his team of salesmen shall report upon their calls. Considerable thought should be devoted to this subject because an efficient reporting system will make a valuable contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole sales effort.

Salesmen's Reports

Differences in product range and markets served will affect the choice of reporting method. Let us consider, firstly, the purposes to which salesmen's reports will be put:

A. To inform the Sales Manager of the particular accounts upon whom the salesman has called, the date of his visit and the person he has interviewed.

B. To indicate the degree of success achieved by the call by means of the value of orders booked.

C. To bring to the attention of the management any deficiencies in the company's service and product quality by the detailing of complaints.

D. To inform the Sales Manager and the Accounts Manager of any changes in the customer's situation which may affect his credit-worthiness.

E. To indicate the current level of the customer's business activity.

F. To report upon new developments which could result in an expansion or contraction of the level of the customer's business with the company.

G. To report the customer's reaction to the general state of the market.

H. To report the activity of competitors.

The above items are applicable generally to all products and markets. For companies engaged in the sale of materials or components to industrial users, more detailed customer-information will be needed. Very often, industrial products have to be tailor-made or at least modified to meet specific requirements. In these circumstances, the salesman must describe fully the nature of the customer's requirements which must be met before the business can be negotiated. In markets where prices fluctuate considerably and detailed price negotiations are involved, the salesman must keep his management informed of competitors' price activity.

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