A dominant theme that emerges from the recent advancement in the field of economics and marketing suggest that we are moving towards a knowledge intensive economy (Verbeke et al., 2010). This immediately prompts our minds to think about industries and emergence of new business domains such as life sciences. However, importance of knowledge in selling cuts across selling context (B2B or B2C) and product categories (Financial products, Consumer products, Industrial products etc.). In B2B contexts knowledge on buying process, buying centres are critical to sales success. In B2C contexts, a deeper understanding of customer segments, channel complexities and pricing implications.. Customers are unwilling to partner with salespeople who are not efficient in processing and connecting knowledge to the process of value co-creation. Therefore, one of the key responsibilities of the sales management is to ensure that salespeople use depth of knowledge to co-create value with their customers. This responsibility is steadily crafting sales manager’s role into a knowledge manager’s role.
• Sales Manager and Organizational Goals: Sales managers have a much more evolved role that is aligned with the strategic goals of the organizations. In such a scenario, sales managers are required to take a mid to long-term view of anticipated developments in area of their buyer’s industries. They need to keep an eye on the pace of innovation and identify knowledge updating needs for their sales force.
• Sales Manager as Knowledge Provider: Sales Managers are taking lead in positioning themselves as “Knowledge Centres”. This involves using efficient methods to assimilate required information and package them into “Knowledge capsules” and train their sales force to apply these during sales encounters.
• Sales Manager and Customer Championship: If sales Manager must champion the cause of customers, how does he do that? Possibly by developing insights into macro-level indicators that is driving the change in customer’s business and therefore, his/her needs. Sales Managers therefore should go beyond mundane market intelligence gathering and form bases for picking up themes for future needs of the customers.
• Sales Manager is the ‘Data Guy’: We will find bigger roles for such sales managers. Data analytics is making a shift from being a decision support activity to a core activity in the daily grind of a sales manager. Sales Managers are not only learning new tools but they are also making themselves better equipped for decision making based on intuitions that are largely supported by data.
• Sales Manager as the Coach: Coaching roles does require deeper knowledge about the sales force members. As a coach, Sales Managers help their team members overcome obstacles, perform better and lead a ‘good life’. Increasingly, Sales Managers are equipping themselves with knowledge that help them manage work-stress and role overload. Concepts and related knowledge on workplace spirituality is finding more and more takers.
Verebeke, W., Dietz, B. and Verwaal, E. (2010), “Drivers of sales performance: A contemporary meta-analysis. Have salespeople become knowledge brokers?”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39(3), 407-428.