I just like to question the status quo, and this time my question is “why do we have salespeople?”.
Do they add anything to the product?
Do they reduce costs?
NO. They add to costs.
Do they help us make the right purchasing decisions?
NO. They want you to buy their product and not their competitors.
So, then, why are there so many salesmen?
Good question, even if I say so myself! Of course, the above questions are all from the point of view of the customer. Ask the company that wants to sell the products and you may get different answers. That’s because the questions are different……
Do they give us greater market share?
Do they make money by improving sales?
Do they help us clear stocks of less popular products?
Do they promote new products?
Let’s not kid ourselves – salespeople are there purely for the benefit of the company they work for – and quite right too, I say. As long as we do not forget that when making purchasing decisions then that’s fine.
Salespeople add quite an overhead to product costs. If a company employs lots of salesmen (or saleswomen), then surely the cost of employing them is added to the product or taken away from the quality of the product. Well this, of course, depends. If a sales force is very successful and achieves high sales volume, their overhead is being diluted. If the success continues then the company can produce or buy in the products at a lower cost. This means that, far from adding to the supply chain costs, highly successful salespeople will bring real value by reducing overall costs.
Until they do achieve this utopian goal, they are theoretically a dead weight. Trouble is, if your competitor is employing salespeople and improving their market share, then like it or not, you will probably need to do the same. The next company will do also, until all companies selling a given range of products are not just competing for market share, they are competing for the best sales people. We are then back to square one. With all competing companies employing salespeople, no one company can steal a march and reach the magic break point that truly reduces supply chain costs. Result: lots of dead-weight salespeople, adding to the product cost and reducing profits. Of course, all these competing companies could get together and decide to simultaneously sack all their sales people. They can then reduce their overheads and compete purely on the attributes of the product, whether this be price or quality. Nice idea but, perhaps a little draconian. Also illegal in many communities. Carrying out a co-ordinated commercial act such as this in a kind of cartel would not be allowed in most areas. In any case someone would soon break ranks and the flood gates would open again.
Yes, salesmen usually add costs. The reality is, though, that they are here to stay and, let’s be honest, the world might just be a more colourful place with them than without them.
Talking of colour – and of aesthetics in general – some products are more in need of sales support than others. A newspaper with a gripping headline will do a good job at selling itself. Well designed packaging that compliments or enhances a product’s value can do wonders for sales. But what of products that do not have such glamour. For instance, machinery, tools and the like. In our case we sell fly killer machines. Not much glamour there! Insectocutor are world beaters at producing fly killer machines. They do not employ armies of salespeople. They are rightly confident that their products really do sell themselves on price and quality alone – and without the glamour. Having said that, some of their models were given a make-over last year. This is in recognition to the fact that some of them are seen by the general public as so many restaurant kitchens are in open view of diners and many fly killers sit behind sales counters or on retail shop floors. The Select Range is a case in point. This is made with a stylish soft green finish. This doesn’t make the machine operate any better but it certainly makes is pleasing to the eye. In the case of Insectocutor products, why bother with salespeople when they are not required? Everyone is aware of the superior quality of their products. The good thing about this is that Insectocutor fly killer machines represent excellent value for money as there is no dead weight overhead to carry.
I am sorry that I have given salesmen a hard time – especially as I am one of them. As I said, though, they are here to stay…well I’m not going anywhere…I hope!