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for brick and mortar retailing as well. Catalogs can be customized so that product offerings can be tailored to a specific segment. The same ability to customize extends to promotional incentives and customer databases can be utilized for customized catalogs and promotions.For many companies, the sales force is a critical element and is especially so in the business to business area. For more undifferentiated products, the quality of the sales force is often the singlemost important means of differentiation and is the products’ most important driver of its performance. Key sales force issues are sales force size and compensation issues. Size is typically determined through expected workload by considering how many customers are served,the frequency of contact, and the average duration of the contact. Sales compensation is usually salary and plus bonuses and the key issue is the proportion. Sales performance evaluation factors include sales, time spent with clients, expertise, knowledge, attitudes, days worked, and sales expenses. The three top complaints of salespeople by business-to -business customers include thesalesperson isn’t following my company’s buying process, the salesperson doesn’t listen to my needs, and the salesperson didn’t bother to follow up.Integrated Marketing ChannelsAs the number of channels increases, problems with coordination and integration of the activities, data, and customer contact points present challenges. Companies must grapple with understanding customer behavior and understand what is important in each channel and how all
of these issues impact loyalty. There are many strategic issues such as allocation of resources, theeffect of adding additional channels, and deciding whether advertising and pricing should be heldconstant across various channels or varied.Companies must ask these questions: What is the company’s target market segments? What benefits do the segments seek? How can the company match customer needs to the company’s corporate growth strategies? What mix of channels will facilitate the company’s meeting of its goals?Distribution channels are networks of interconnected firms whose activities enable products to besold and consumers to have easier access to those products. Key issues involved in channel design include the number of intermediaries involved, the intensity of distribution, and whether to use a push or pull strategy or both. Compensation is another key issue. Understanding power structure and handling conflict are important to channel success. Communication and trust are also critical to channel success. Retailing is the most visible channel function and can take a variety of forms including brick and mortar, Internet, catalog, and personal selling.