A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. It is an act of completion of a commercial activity.
The seller or salesperson – the provider of the goods or services – completes a sale in response to an acquisition or to an appropriation or to a request. There follows the passing of title (property or ownership) in the item, and the application and due settlement of a price, the obligation for which arises due to the seller’s requirement to pass ownership. Ideally, a seller agrees upon a price at which he willingly parts with ownership of or any claim upon the item. The purchaser, though a party to the sale, does not execute the sale, only the seller does that. To be precise the sale completes prior to the payment and gives rise to the obligation of payment. If the seller completes the first two above stages (consent and passing ownership) of the sale prior to settlement of the price, the sale remains valid and gives rise to an obligation to pay.
A sale can take place through:
- Direct sales, involving person to person contact
- Pro forma sales
- Traveling salesman
- Request for proposal – An invitation for suppliers, through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific product or service. An RFP usually represents part of a complex sales process, also known as “enterprise sales“.
- Business-to-business – Business-to-business sales are much more relationship-based owing to the lack of emotional attachment to the products in question. Industrial/professional sales involves selling from one business to another
- Indirect, human-mediated but with indirect contact
- Sales methods:
Agents in the sales process can represent either of two parties in the sales process; for example:
- Sales broker or Seller agency or seller agent: This is a traditional role where the salesman represents a person or company on the selling end of a deal.
- Buyers broker or Buyer brokerage: This is where the salesman represents the consumer making the purchase. This is most often applied in large transactions.
- Disclosed dual agent:This is where the salesman represents both parties in the sale and acts as a mediator for the transaction. The role of the salesman here is to oversee that both parties receive an honest and fair deal, and is responsible to both.
- Transaction broker: This is where the salesperson represent neither party but handles the transaction only. The seller owes no responsibility to either party getting a fair or honest deal, just that all of the papers are handled properly.
- Sales outsourcing involves direct branded representation where the sales representatives are recruited, hired, and managed by an external entity but hold quotas, represent themselves as the brand of the client, and report all activities (through their own sales management channels) back to the client. It is akin to a virtual extension of a sales force (see sales outsourcing).
- Sales managers: qualified and talented sales managers aim to implement various sales strategies and management techniques in order to facilitate improved profits and increased sales volume. They are also responsible for coordinating the sales and marketing department as well as oversight concerning the fair and honest execution of the sales process by their agents.
- Salesmen: The primary function of professional sales is to generate and close leads, educate prospects, fill needs and satisfy wants of consumers appropriately, and therefore turn prospective customers into actual ones. Questioning – to understand a customer’s goal and requirements relevant to the product – and the creation of a valuable solution by communicating the necessary information that encourages a buyer to achieve their goal at an economic cost comprise the functions of the salesperson or of the sales engine (for example, the Internet, a vending machine, etc). A good salesman should never mis-sell or over-evaluate the customer’s requirements.
Inside sales vs. Outside sales
Since the advent of the telephone, a distinction has been made between “inside sales” and “outside sales” although it is generally agreed that those terms have no hard-and-fast definition.In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act defines outside sales representatives as “employees [who] sell their employer’s products, services, or facilities to customers away from their employer’s place(s) of business, in general, either at the customer’s place of business or by selling door-to-door at the customer’s home” while defining those who work “from the employer’s location” as inside sales. Inside sales generally involves attempting to close business primarily over the phone via cold calling or telemarketing, while outside sales (or “field” sales) will usually involve initial phone work to book sales calls at the potential buyer’s location to attempt to close the deal in person. Some companies have an inside sales department that works with outside representatives and book their appointments for them. Inside sales sometimes refers to upselling to existing customers.
The Relationships between Sales and Marketing
Marketing and sales differ greatly, but have the same goal. Marketing improves the selling environment and plays a very important role in sales. If the marketing department generates a list of potential customers, that can benefit sales. A marketing department in an organization has the goal increasing the number of interactions between potential customers and the organization. Achieving this goal may involve the sales team using promotional techniques such as advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and public relations, creating new sales channels, or creating new products (new product development), among other things. It can also include bringing the potential customer to visit the organization’s website(s) for more information, or to contact the organization for more information, or to interact with the organization via social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
The relatively newfield of sales process engineering views “sales” as the output of a larger system, not just as the output of one department. The larger system includes many functional areas within an organization. From this perspective, “sales” and “marketing” (among others, such as “customer service“) label for a number of processes whose inputs and outputs supply one another to varying degrees. In this context, improving an “output” (such as sales) involves studying and improving the broader sales process, as in any system, since the component functional areas interact and are interdependent.
Most large corporations structure their marketing departments in a similar fashion to sales departments and the managers of these teams must coordinate efforts in order to drive profits and business success. For example, an “inbound” focused campaign seeks to drive more customers “through the door”, giving the sales department a better chance of selling their product to the consumer. A good marketing program would address any potential downsides as well.
The sales department would aim to improve the interaction between the customer and the sales facility or mechanism (example, web site) and/or salesperson. Sales management would break down the selling process and then increase the effectiveness of the discrete processes as well as the interaction between processes. For example, in many out-bound sales environments, the typical process includes out-bound calling, the sales pitch, handling objections, opportunity identification, and the close. Each step of the process has sales-related issues, skills, and training needs, as well as marketing solutions to improve each discrete step, as well as the whole process.
One further common complication of marketing involves the inability to measure results for a great deal of marketing initiatives. In essence, many marketing and advertising executives often lose sight of the objective of sales/revenue/profit, as they focus on establishing a creative/innovative program, without concern for the top or bottom lines – a fundamental pitfall of marketing for marketing’s sake.
Many companies find it challenging to get marketing and sales on the same page. The two departments, although different in nature, handle very similar concepts and have to work together for sales to be successful. Building a good relationship between the two that encourages communication can be the key to success – even in a down economy.
Marketing Potentially negates the Need for Sales
Some sales authors and consultants contend that an expertly planned and executed marketing strategy may negate the need for outside sales entirely. They suggest that by effectively bringing more customers “through the door” and enticing them into contact, sales organizations can dramatically improve their results, efficiency, profitability, and allow salespeople to provide a drastically higher level of customer service and satisfaction, instead of spending the majority of their working hours searching for someone to sell to.
The idea that marketing can potentially eliminate the need for sales people depends entirely on context. For example, this may be possible in some B2C situations; however, for many B2B transactions (for example, those involving industrial organizations) this is mostly impossible.Another dimension is the value of the goods being sold. Fast-moving consumer-goods (FMCG) require no sales people at the point of sale to get them to jump off the supermarket shelf and into the customer’s trolley. However, the purchase of large mining equipment worth millions of dollars will require a sales person to manage the sales process – particularly in the face of competitors.
Sales and Marketing Alignment and Integration
Another area of discussion involves the need for alignment and integration between corporate sales and marketing functions. According to a report from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, only 40 percent of companies have formal programs, systems or processes in place to align and integrate the two critical functions.
Traditionally, these two functions, as referenced above, have operated separately, left in siloed areas of tactical responsibility. Glen Petersen’s book The Profit Maximization Paradox sees the changes in the competitive landscape between the 1950’s and the time of writing as so dramatic that the complexity of choice, price and opportunities for the customer forced this seemingly simple and integrated relationship between sales and marketing to change forever. Petersen goes on to highlight that salespeople spend approximately 40 percent of their time preparing customer-facing deliverables while leveraging less than 50 percent of the materials created by marketing, adding to perceptions that marketing is out of touch with the customer and that sales is resistant to messaging and strategy.
Sources; Wikipedia and other encyclopaedias