The marketing intelligence contributions made by industrial sales forces as part of the corporate planning process
Moss, C. D.
This thesis has been concerned with analysing the involvement of industrial sales forces in providing adequate and realistic intelligence to be used as a basis for the forward planning undertaken by the Marketing function. An empirical study of the activities, of the sales force in 60 companies has been undertaken. The type of intelligence being acquired by salesmen has been examined and divided into five categories (ie. Product, Customer/Market, Competition, Long Term Volume Forecasts, and Other Topics). The different reporting techniques for conveying the intelligence to the Marketing department have been evaluated, and an analysis made of the use to which the information has been placed by staff of the department. The research shows the necessity for companies to create intermediary agencies to scrutinise intelligence passing between salesmen and Marketing staff. Several hypotheses have been, tested against the information collected in the investigation. The results obtained from examining such hypotheses illustrate the need for companies to think of the following matters when considering how a sales force reporting system can be made effective:\ud \ud 1) the provision of key production and financial data to salesmen to improve their knowledge of company policies;\ud 2) the organisation structure within which salesmen operate;\ud 3) the implementation of training programmes to develop the interactive skills of salesmen;\ud 4.) the means of motivating salesmen to gather facts;\ud 5) the categorisation of the different types of customer call made by salesmen.\ud \ud The investigations reveal that companies selling high cost products and systems to markets characterised by rapid technological change have been most prominent in requesting sales force intelligence. Salesmen have been most active in the collection of intelligence about products and competitors, and have been less concerned with analysing customer operations and developing business volume forecasts.. The salesman is a costly corporate asset, and the research highlights that in his information-gathering role he helps to- devise marketing strategies that can materially affect corporate performance.