Encouraging Sales Managers to carry out Kerb-side Training


1 A Client asked the following question: how do i encourage medio­cre sales managers to engage in kerb-side training when they have no knowledge of that type of training themselves and see little or no need for it?

2 The following notes aim to answer this question.

encouragement – by the use of role-playing

3 Some Sales Managers have altered their attitudes to kerb-side coaching quite significantly as a result of role-playing training which involves kerb-side coaching.

4 The following section gives one approach to carrying out such role-playing.*

procedure for a role-playing session

5 Select a role-playing situation which involves a common problem for the Company’s Sales Representatives and which uses an important Company Product.**

6 Select A to take the part of the Sales Representative and B to take the part of the Prospect. In addition select C and D to take the role of Sales Managers.

7 Both C and D observe while A and B carry out the selling situation.

8 Ask D to leave the room. Ask C to carry out kerb-side coaching in the same way as he/she would if doing so in the field.

9 Immediately after C finishes, bring D into the room and ask him/her to do the same thing as C did.

10 All other Sales Supervisors/Managers should act as Observers. When D acts as Sales Manager, C can observe what D does. However the procedure does not allow D to observe C – to avoid baising what D does in the kerb­side coaching.

* For further information on Role-Playing see the Cullen Morton notes on: “Some Points on Role-Playing” and “Some Hints for conducting Role-Playing Training”.

** This step assumes the Organisation has some suitable role- playing situations already prepared; if not, the Organisation will need to prepare some. For assistance, obtain copies of the Cullen Morton notes: Prepara­tion of Client Role-Playing situations.

11 The following diagram summarises the approach.

1 A B - C, D & all other Represen -tatives. Representative attempts to sell Prospect B a Coy. Product.
2 A - C All other Represen- tatives. D Sales Managers aim to improve the future per-formance of the Representatives by discussing the performance of the Represent -ative with Prospect B.
3 A I- ID C & all other Represent -atives.

12 The whole group should then consider the kerb-side coaching of C and D to select what they did well, what they did poorly, and how they could improve in future coaching situations.

13 Provided the Conference Leader (Trainer) runs the training sessions skillfully many people will see potential in kerb-side coaching. They will see the need to improve their own activities in what they do in trying to improve the performance of their Representatives.

Encouragement – By The Use Of Group Discussions

14 A Company who wishes to use a less-direct approach might consider using the following ideas.

15 Arrange for the Sales Supervisors/Managers to attend a group discussion on the subject “How should effective Sales Managers try to improve the performance of their Sales Representatives”.

16 The Conference Leader would encourage the Sales Manager to list as many methods as they can. The methods should include both written and oral communications – either separately or in combination.

17 Once the Managers identify possible methods they should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each. When they get to oral communications they should consider both where, and when, to communicate.

18 These topics should help the Conference Leader to introduce the idea of kerb-side coaching – if not already introduced. The Leader can help the Sales Managers to discuss this technique and its advantages and disadvan­tages.

19 Probably most Sales Managers will accept that they should have oral discussions with their Sales Representatives to improve their performance. The Leader can encourage them to identify just what they will discuss and the specific ways they will learn that their Representatives have a need to improve their performance.

20 The above approach should help Sales Managers to accept that kerb-side coaching has some definite advantages which will outweigh its disadvan­tages.

21 However particular attitudes of some Sales Managers may still prove an obstacle. They might desire to avoid having to criticise their Representa­tive in a way which will spoil their relationship with the Representative.

22 These Sales Managers will need to carry out such an activity without feeling disturbed or worried about it.

23 The Conference Leader should steer the conference towards the possibil­ity that Sales Managers can, and should, carry out the activity in a way which does not disturb their relationship with their Representatives.

24 The identification of situations where Sales Representatives genuinely look for help from their Sales Managers to cope with problems they have will help to influence the attitude of the Conference Members in the right direction.

25 Possibly this method of encouragement requires a more-skilled confer­ence leader than the previous demonstration of kerb-side training through role-playing situations.

26 Sometimes a Company should use both methods since they compliment each other.


27 Both the above methods aim to expose Sales Managers to the technique of kerb-side training without forcing them to listen to the ideas of one person taking a “telling” one-way-communication approach.

28 The first approach exposes them to a demonstration of some kerb- side training and allows them to hear how other people evaluate the technique.

29 The second approach exposes Sales Managers to the opinions of their peers about what kerb-side training involves and its advantages and disad­vantages. Whether this approach will succeed depends on the knowledge and attitude of the people in the group discussion and the skills of the person leading the discussion.

Introduction to Sales Management

1 Sales Representatives who become Sales Managers soon find necessary to re-focus their thinking in some ways. This change occurs particularly when Sales Management must enlarge its scope, knowledge and understanding as it has to meet “the total marketing concept” .[1]

2 New Sales Managers have new objectives to achieve as the following list shows. They should:

(a) Face business Facts in a hardheaded, realistic manner.

(b) Establish and maintain the organisation and procedures collect/analyse, and interpret the Facts.

(c) Develop an effective plan of action based on the Facts.

3 Many Sales Representatives do not find it easy to face business facts realistically. In selling, many have learned to think and to their way around adverse facts raised by unreceptive Prospects. Th have also learned to brush aside the unhappy circumstance of a lost sale and to approach each new Prospect with enthusiasm.

4 Thus, good Representatives generally become good forgetters of unpleasant facts and learn not to let negative experiences influence their thinking too greatly. They learn to look at the world through some special Sales-Representative’s glasses which eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive.

5 Thus, when they reach higher management levels and report containing negative information come across their desks, the Sale Representatives who have become Sales Managers instinctively close their mind to this information. They search for other figures that will prove more satisfying.

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Sales Managers and their Place in Organisations

Activities of Sales Management

1 Sales Management covers the management of the personal selling force of a Company. It will usually include management of the clerical staff giving direct assistance to the field and/or the indoor (telephone) selling force. These people might carry out secretarial duties as well as clerical and statistical record keeping.

2 Management activities will involve planning, directing, and checking the Sales Staff. In more detail it will cover:

(a) Recruiting and selecting Sales Representatives and other Staff.

(b) Training and equipping Representatives.

(c) Designing territories and allocating them to particular Sales Representatives.

(d) Helping Sales Representatives operate their territories effec­tively and efficiently – by taking suitable routes, among other things.

(e) Setting Sales targets.

(f) Measuring and evaluating the performance of the Sales Staff.

(g) Arranging that they have an appropriate motivation to obtain a high-quality performance.

(h) Remunerating them in the most appropriate way – which may in­volve salary, commission, bonus, special prizes (contests), fringe benefits, etc.

Titles And The Activities Of Sales Managers

3 A job title can easily mislead: Some Sales Representatives hold the title of Sales Manager to help them impress their Customers and Prospects.   Some Sales Managers look after other activities beside those involved in managing the personal selling force, e.g. their position may also cover Advertising, Packaging, Market Research, or other mar­keting activities. In this case the title of Sales Manager may only give a very rough guide to the activities managed by the person holding this title.

4 The fields of Sales Management, as defined in the above sections, how the activities which a Manager of a group of Sales Representatives will cover.

Selling And Salesmanship

5 The activities of Sales managers revolve around personal selling activities.            Therefore they should know a meaning for “selling” and “personal selling”.

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Types of Sales Representatives

 The following three types of Sales Representatives exist:

(a) The Manufacturer’s Sales Representative

(b) The Wholesaler’s Sales Representative

(c) The Retailer’s Sales Representative

The Manufacturer’s Sales Representative

2 Sales Representative employed directly by Manufacturers may sell to Wholesalers, Retailers, or other people in the middle of a distribution channel, or directly to the Consumer.

3 They include:

(a) The Pioneer Products Sales Representative

(b) The Dealer-Servicing Sales Representative

(c) Factory Sales Representative (or Special Agents)

(d) The Speciality Sales Representative

The Pioneer Products Sales Representative

4 Manufacturers employ Pioneer Products Sales Representatives to ar­range outlets for new products. This prospecting rates as a vital fac­tor for this class of Representative. They should have a sound knowl­edge of the type of business selected as the desired source outlet and possess the qualities of self reliance, aggressiveness and imagination. Usually their work pays well but it involves a good deal of mental and emotional strain.Readers should appreciate that there exists no universal acceptance of terms to describe different types of Sales Representatives. Thus, some peo­ple will use different terms for some of the Representative types than those used in these notes; some will use the same terms but mean something differ­ent.

The Dealer-Servicina Sales Representative

5 Manufacturers employ this class of Representatives to service their Company’s established outlets and occasionally to add further outlets. Their duties include: see that the outlets receive a regular supply of the Company’s products with no breakdowns in service; help Dealers sell the products by assisting them in the merchandising; and increase the volume and variety of lines the Dealer buys from the Company.

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The Qualities of an Effective Representative

What makes an Effective Representative

1 The secret of success in selling lies in one’s attitudes toward selling and toward people. A Sales Representative with the right atti­tude can develop into an effective Representative.

2 The following explains – the right attitude.

3 The Right Attitude Toward Selling involves – enjoying selling and determining to develop one’s selling ability to its greatest extent.

4 The Right Attitude Toward People means – having a real interest in people, liking the company of people, and desiring to understand and help people.

5 Assuming that the Sales Representative has the right attitude to­wards work and towards people, what other qualities should a Represen­tative develop to become an effective Representative.

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Organisation Structure and Sales Departments – Test Questions

1 Assume you manage a Sales Department with 25 outside Sales Representatives employed in it and the Company sells ten different products (three of them require extensive technical knowledge) to three distinct classes of outlets. List two good basic questions to ask yourself to help you design a good organisation structure,  (2+2=4) *

2 Sketch an organisation chart of a Sales Department which uses at least three of the groupings of Sales Representative mentioned in the notes. Draw the chart so that each horizontal band of the chart shows only one type of group­ing. Put the names of the grouping used beside each band or level and ensure you title each position in a way which will make it clear that you have used and identified the correct grouping. (2+2+2=6)

3 List the three factors which someone can change when considering the organisation structure of a Sales Depart­ment – as given in the notes. (3+1=4)

4  Sketch two different organisation charts which show different grouping methods but each grouping has the same number of people reporting to each person. Give sufficient labelling of each job and/or the grouping to show the cor­rectness of your answer. (5)

5 Sketch two different organisation charts which show a different number in each group on the two charts but the grouping method rates as the same in both cases. Give suf­ficient labelling of each job and/or the groupings to show the correctness of your answer and which groupings you have used. (4)

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Organisation Planning


1 These  notes discuss the different meanings of “Organisation” and “organise” and suggest using “Organisation Planning” as a term to describe a process which usually leads to a (formal) Organisation Structure. Organisation Planning involves six steps and the notes discuss each of these in turn.

2 They discuss the size of an “activity”, the listing and the grouping of activities, and include a detailed classification of grouping possibilities and how to use groupings to examine an Organisation Structure. The next step involves the organisation form and the notes discuss the following Organisation Structure forms: line, staff, line and staff, and committees.

3 The notes discuss (a) the problems of, and solutions to, the conflicts which arise from two-boss situations and (b) the level at which to introduce Staff Authority [1]. They discuss the need for positions, their number, the relationship of span of control to number of position levels, and centralisation versus decentralisation. They then discuss defining the work and position authority of each position and assigning appropriate individuals to each position.’

4 The notes conclude with a discussion on informal organisations and the inevitability of Organisation Structures.

Different Meanings for “Organisation” and “Organise”

Some Meanings for Organisation

5 Organisation has, at least, the following three meanings -

(a) a group of people (and resources) with a common objective

(b) the managerial structure of an Organisation

(c) the quality of coordination achieved between the various elements of a group.

[1] Readers should contrast Position Authority (Authority arranged by the Organisation) with Personal Authority (Authority given to a person by another) – not because of the Person’s official position in a group. The notes on this topic: ‘Some Important Elements in Delegation” provide many more details. Continue reading

Planning the Activities of Sales Representatves

Why plan the Work of Sales Representatives?

1 Sales Representatives have charge of sales territories and should plan to use their resources – particularly selling time – to secure the maximum sales for the minimum cost. Ability in this respect rates as almost as important as the ability to sell.

2 Sales Representatives quite often receive less direct supervision than indoor Employees. They have to supervise themselves – to a major extent. They have to seek out their own opportunities. Sales Managers can try to make up for this limited supervision by insisting that Rep­resentatives make a well-prepared plan which aims to ensure an economi­cal but through coverage of their Sales Territory and avoid wasted ef­fort.

Who should Plan a Representative’s Work

3 Three possibilities exist:

(a) Representatives plan their own coverage entirely. Their Man­agers leave the Representatives to get the best out of their own territory.

(b) The Company exercises some control, but the Representatives do most of the planning.

(c) The Company plans the territory coverage completely and de­pends on the Representatives to co-operate.

4 Generally Representatives should do their own planning. They may require guidance and assistance; but, with experience. most can become fairly-skilled Planners.

5 For weak Representatives, centralised planning may produce the best results in coverage of the territory but it will not improve the Representative’s ability to plan.      In fact, sometimes Representatives become so dependent on someone else that when emergencies arise they plan poorly in making minor changes to their plans. Training Representa­tives to plan better often gets little or no attention in many Organi­sations; however more attention would bring significant benefits.

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Motivation and Sales Representatives


1 How well Sales Representatives perform depends on many factors. One major one involves just how much they want to succeed.    The term “motivation” describes this factor. In broad terms it means the drive to perform any activity.’ The term “motivating Sales Representatives” describes the efforts made to make their desire to succeed in their po­sition as strong as possible and to maintain it at that level.

2 One approach to achieving appropriate motivation patterns in Repre­sentatives involves giving them the opportunity to satisfy their needs.

The Needs of Sales Representatives

3 Every individual strives to satisfy certain needs. A knowledge of the particular needs characteristic of Sales Representatives as a group will help Sales Managers who wish to achieve an appropriate motiva­tional pattern for their Representatives. Most Sales Representatives will want to satisfy several or all of these needs listed below:

(a) Self-Respect – Most people need to respect themselves. Repre­sentatives who rate their work as important and who believe they represent a worthwhile Company and sell a worthwhile product will feel more satisfied with their job than people without this feel­ing/belief.

(b) The Respect of Others – This need related to a person’s status, prestige, and standing in the community.

(c) Self Expression – Most people like the chance to express them selves to others.

(d) Job Satisfaction – People need to class their work as inter­esting and useful.

(e) Opportunity – People do not like to feel they work in a “dead-end job” – they like to have something to which they can strive.

(f) Security – This need relates to feeling relaxed, happy and un­worried in situations. Representatives who believe they may lose their job or work in a situation where they receive conflicting instructions will feel insecure.

See the notes on : “Definition -  Motivating” for a detailed discussion of the term “Motivation”.

(g) Competition – Many people like the opportunity to compete against others and to excel in their chosen field. However, too much competition and repeated failure in competitive situations will not help a Sales Representative to feel secure.

(h) Self Determination – most Representatives will like a position where they can take part in the planning of their own activities, i.e. they like to have some say in their own destiny.

(i) Adequate Remuneration. Usually Representatives compare them­selves with others who do the same job. Provided they get the same as these others, usually they feel satisfied.

Importance of Motivation

4 The work of many Sales Representatives involves knock backs and dis­appointments. After a good deal of hard work someone else can beat them to a sale. They can lose a good Customer. A continuing decision to keep striving will prove necessary to help them overcome these dif­ficulties. Even when Sales Representatives have made their quota of sales, they still require an appropriate motivation to make the one ex­tra call and to prepare their reports accurately and on time. Some Representatives feel uninterested and apathetic about their work. They see it as a means of livelihood and no more. Thus their job satisfies only one of their needs. An appropriate change to their motivated pat­tern can release a vast reserve of productive energy which can increase sales.

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