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Study of Historic and Contemporary Sales Methods and Attitudes Essay Sample

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Study of Historic and Contemporary Sales Methods and Attitudes Essay Sample

Selling as an offer of exchange of goods for other items or money exists and accompanies the world’s economy since the very beginning of a human existence. As long as there has been something to sell there have been salespeople taking care of those who might be willing to buy. This occupation requires selling skills as well as specific abilities and characteristics to uncover the needs of potential buyers and cater to those needs (D.Jobber, G.Lancaster, 2009, p.5). This is why selling is rather a complex process using a wide range of techniques and methods (D.Jobber, G.Lancaster, 2009, p.5), which has changed over the years, and because of the influential events. The greatest impacts on evolution of selling can be dated back to late 19 century when the post Industrial Revolution and later on post 1st and 2nd World Wars periods took place. However, it is the post 2nd World War period that is considered to be a start of the biggest changes in selling.

Starting from the early form of salespeople called peddlers, who were going around from house to house selling different objects that they carried with them, it is worth mentioning that their origin is from the basic need of a man to exchange goods and communication (DSA, 2012). Slight growth of the family businesses was the beginning of the simple trade era, when the households produced enough goods to satisfy their own needs, and the surplus could be traded on the market with other households (Gale Cengage, 2001). The meaning of selling was secondary as the producers were focused mainly on production and orders (M.Strader, A.Wysocki, 2012).

However, after the Industrial Revolution, there were businesses that had the main production role, so that they became the main suppliers of goods (Gale Cengage, 2001). The Production Era fuelled for example by Henry Ford, thanks to his assembly lines, lasted from the end of the Civil War till 1920, because of the turbulent economic condition (Gale Cengage, 2001). The moment when the production lines were bringing millions of products (Stills, 1976), the surplus of goods was higher than the demand of the local communities; there was a need for sale to the external environments.

The main task of the salespeople was to increase the number of potential customers (M.Strader, A.Wysocki, 2012). However, as M.Strader and A.Wysocki claim, “sales representatives generally had very little feedback within the company and were viewed as contracted help. They were paid strictly on a commission basis, so they had very little loyalty to either the firm for which they worked or the customers to whom they sold the products”. As long as the salespeople performed sales, the businesses did not pay attention to what the real needs were or to what the customers wanted. This general movement was the beginning of The Selling Era, during which various selling techniques started to be used to increase sales. Companies were using promotional techniques to inform the increased spectrum of potential customers about the product existence, as well as persuasion (Gale Cengage, 2001).

The general difference between the production concept and selling concept is the attitude of company. First, they could ask the question if they are able to produce a particular product in an enough quantity (production concept). Later on, there was a question if they can sell the product and how much they can charge for it (selling concept). The relation seller-buyer in both cases was rather poorly performed, especially in the sales concept, where information if the product is actually needed was out of interest of the company (NetMBA, 2010). That may lead to the assumption that the sales techniques were based rather on the pushy approach. This stage of the selling evolution definitely had an impact on the negative image of personal selling that is also perceived till present days.

The biggest changes in evolution of selling that can be also called the beginning of the modern selling are dated back to 1950s, after the 2nd World War. The main reasons of the evolution of selling are the expansion in other fields of studies such as psychology and process methodology. Thanks to those forces the selling industry has changed (T. Hughes, 2012), and the organisations adapted new philosophy of a marketing concept that was based on customer satisfaction, which was of primary importance (Manning, Reece, Ahearne, 2011. Chapter2). Very significant difference is that the companies began to recognise the needs and wants of potential buyers of a target market and were willing to meet a challenge in order to get customers’ satisfaction. The position of salespeople in the organisation was recognised as an important link to collect information relating to the consumers’ needs. There general change of the organisation approach has been noticed as the product orientation was replaced with customer orientation (Manning, Reece, Ahearne, 2011. Chapter2).

Since then, personal selling was evolving so that few years later, in 1960s and 1970s salespeople adopted more consultative approach and became more like problem-solvers. Sellers’s main aim was not only to sell the product but provide the buyer with information and recommendations. Thanks to the two-way communication, manipulation tactics used before were replaced with negotiations. However, buyers became more value-conscious and aware of their own needs so they were interested mainly in price and convenience. The selling process with customers who already know their product or service goal was rather transactional. Customers were focused primarily on the low prices so the sales became the single transactions in vast majority of cases, as the salespeople did not pay much effort to relationship building with the buyer (Manning, Reece, Ahearne, 2011).

Fast growing competition on the market made the selling process much more complicated. Organisations started to look for the specific strategies in the sales sectors so the salespeople could get to the market niches and create the need of the products. Strategy oriented companies put much more interest in market researches and product positioning in order to find the target audience. Selling was not a single transaction anymore but a planned process (Manning, Reece, Ahearne, 2011. Chapter2).

The last change in selling evolution took place in 1990s when the whole process and approach toward sale has changed and it lasts till the present days. The highest stage of selling is partnering. Its aim is to build and keep the relationship with the customer in a way to create the partnership with individual customer and add values. All the actions undertaken are perceived as the long-term and performed with the highest quality. However, the evolution is going further. The next step of selling and the highest form of partnering is strategic selling alliance. The main aim of this form is creating a team with a strong relationship with the partners in order to reach the marketplace advantage. “Alliances often are formed by companies that have similar business interest and, thus, gain a mutual competitive advantage” (Manning, Reece, Ahearne, 2011. Chapter2).

Evolution of selling had its long way until we got to the point where it became a separate field of studies. However, the attitudes to selling are still negative because of the misleading image. All the misconceptions derived from the past selling techniques should be overcome and replaced with the facts that “selling provides a mechanism for exchange and through this process customers’ needs and wants are satisfied” ( D.Jobber, G.Lancaster, 2009, p.13). That is why, contrary to the image, there is nothing immoral in selling, and what is more, nowadays it is a worthwhile challenging career. And the most important is to notice the significant meaning of selling in present days as it drives the world’s economy and even the best products do not sell themselves.


•D.Jobber, G.Lancaster (2009) Selling and Sales Management. 8th ed. : Pearson Prentice Hall •DSA Direct Selling Association (2012) History of Direct Selling. [WWW] Available from: http://www.directselling411.com/about-direct-selling/history-of-direct-selling [Accessed 12/11/12]. •Gale Cengage (2001) Encyclopedia of Business and Finance. New York: Macmillan. [WWW] Available from: http://www.enotes.com/marketing-historical-perspectives-reference/marketing-historical-perspectives [Accessed 12/11/12] •M.Strader, A.Wysocki (2012) A Brief History of the Sales Environment. [WWW] University of Florida. Available from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/sn001 [Accessed 12/11/12] •Manning, Reece, Ahearne (2011) Selling Today. Pearson International 12th Edition. : Pearson Prentice Hall •Net MBA Business Knowledge Center (2010) The Marketing Concept. [WWW] Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc. Available from: http://www.netmba.com/marketing/concept

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