The sales force and electronic territory management
In today's rapidly changing climate it is vital that companies maximise the return from their investments. The sales force is one of the largest investments, and companies have added to that investment by introducing computers and electronic territory management systems (ETMS). In the writers view, the opportunity to fully use these systems to help redirect the way in which the sales force operates, and improve on its return, has not yet been grasped. As a result, only marginal benefits have stemmed from ETMS. Too much reliance has been placed on the ability of the representative to change into a territory manager simply by providing ETMS, and too little emphasis has been placed on how the data being generated could be used. Furthermore, the district managers have a vital role in the management of the changes that need to take place in sales force direction, and yet they have tended to be left out of these developments. This paper argues that information technology can be used to help in periods of culture change, but that a knowledge base and a clear strategy is required for this to be achieved. The development of a strategy that is based on a clear understanding of how to get the best return from a sales person's time is required. Within an organisation there are few people who have the business and analytical skills to build such a strategy, or model. Market research is one discipline that could have an important role to play in this area.
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