The success of planning depends greatly on the control of the sales force. This control activity has gained much significance in the modern competitive world. In fact, planning and controlling are two sides of a coin and are crucial for sales management.
M.C. Niles defines,
control is the maintaining of a balance in activities directed towards a goal or set of goals.
Control of salesmen is the process of establishing the standards of performance for the salesmen, measuring their performance, interpreting it and taking corrective actions, wherever necessary, so as to improve their performance.
In other words, Control of salesmen is the act of directing, guiding and checking the salesmen so as to ensure that every activity of the salesmen occurs in accordance with what is envisaged in the sales plan.
Need for Control of Salesmen
Control of salesmen is very essential for a sales organization to achieve maximum results. However scientific the selection and the training of the salesmen may be, supervision and control of the salesmen are absolutely necessary to secure the most economical and efficient performance from them.
The need for effective control of the salesmen is all the more greater, especially when there are a large number of salesmen, working in different places, far away from the sales manager. The need for effective control of the salesmen is necessary for the following reasons:
1. To make disciplined and responsible salesmen
By nature, some salesmen are devoted, and therefore require little control. But there are salesmen who are indifferent and not devoted to duty. They may not work properly unless there is an effective control; So, control of salesmen becomes necessary, to make them disciplined and responsible and to ensure good performance from them.
2. To coordinate their efforts and activities
For the success of sales campaign, the efforts of the salesmen must be coordinated with other sales efforts, such as advertising, personal selling, etc.
3. To maintain regular contacts
Control of the salesmen is also necessary to ensure that they are in contact with the distribution channel members, consumers and the public at large.
Advantages of Control of Salesmen
1. It helps to increase the efficiency of the sales force and contributes to increased sales.
2. It contributes to the organization by reducing its selling expenses.
3. It contributes to the elimination of superfluous sales operations.
Methods of Control over Salesmen
Control over the salesmen may be exercised in many ways. The various methods of control over the salesmen are explained below:
1. Personal Contact and inspection
Personal contact, inspection or personal control is the oldest method of control. It is also one of the most important and effective methods of controlling the salesmen. Under this method, the work of the salesmen is checked by the sales manager himself, in the case of smaller organizations.
However, in the case of larger organizations, personal control over the salesmen is exercised by regional, divisional, district or branch managers. The regional, divisional, district or branch managers check and control the salesmen working under them in their own areas. Besides, there may also be field supervisors or inspectors to check the salesmen’s work and to control the salesmen through personal contact.
This method is, no doubt, an effective method of control. But it is very expensive. Further, as the organization grows in size, and if more salesmen are employed in scattered areas, it becomes very difficult to exercise effective control over the salesmen through this method. However, the difficulty can be overcome by appointing more field supervisors and by allocating a small area for each field supervisor.
2. Control through Correspondence
Control over the salesmen can be exercised through correspondence. This is one of the most commonly used methods of control.
Under this method, letters are written by the sales manager to the salesmen periodically and information about their performance is also obtained from them. On the basis of the information received, instructions and suggestions are given to them periodically through correspondence for the improvement of their performance.
This method will be quite effective only when it is used as a supplement to the personal control or personal contact method.
3. Establishing Control through Reports and Returns
Control over the salesmen may also be exercised through report and returns from the salesmen. Under this method, salesmen are required to send reports to the sales manager periodically say, daily, weekly or monthly, depending upon the requirements. The reports in writing and returns should contain information regarding:
1. The number of calls made (with relevant details of each call)
2. The total volume and value of sales effected.
3. The number of new customers contacted and sales made.
4. The number of old customers lost and the reasons for the same.
5. The sales expenses incurred.
6. Collection of outstanding amount made from the customers.
7. Customers’ needs and problems.
8. Credit standing of customers
9. Complaints from the customers.
The reports should also contain information regarding:
10. Competition in the market.
11. Changing market conditions.
12. Effectiveness of the advertising.
13. Involvement of wholesalers, retailers in promotion.
The reports are analyzed and the salesmen’s performance is evaluated. Based on the analysis and interpretation of the salesmen’s performance, necessary instructions are given to the salesmen for improving their performance in future.
For example, call report indicates the calls made on customers, sales obtained, future promises made by customers, their credit standing, etc. Similarly, an expense account may point out details of expenses made by the salesman during a particular period.
By summing up the various reports of the salesman, a record is prepared by the sales organization about the actual performance. The carefully prepared record gives a clear-cut picture of every salesman’s work and activities. On the basis of reports and records, the manager can compare the performance with the targets.