Sales planning and operations is a business function that helps in handling distribution and sales of a product or service that is developed by a company. Marks and Spencer is a clothing retailer that has British origins. The standards set by this organisation for production of clothes and retail outlets has inspired businessmen at all the levels. In this report, basic information regarding sales and operations planning of organisation has been provided. The importance of sales management and operations will also be demonstrated in this assessment. A sales plan and certain investigations regarding sales opportunities of a clothing line of M&S are also depicted in this report.
The role of personal selling in the marketing strategy of an organisation has been depicted ahead. It is important to understand this link so that effective action plans can be executed for obtaining the enhanced sales and better customer base.
1.1 Personal Selling and Promotional Mix
Promotional mix is a strategic tool that helps in understanding the techniques which are to be implemented for marketing products and services of company. Marks and Spencer uses promotional mix with components that are mentioned as follows:
- Advertising both online and offline
- Developing public relations
- Sales promotion
- Personal selling
One of the most effective methods for achieving promotional mix is personal selling. It helps in assessing specific needs of customers individually. Communication between organisation and consumers is direct and smooth when it comes to personal selling. Marketing is a medium through which benefits and features of products and services of organisation are delivered to the customers in an innovative way (Cummins, Peltier and Dixon, 2016). Personal selling has an important support in this strategy.
Employees are appointed with particular segments of customers so that constructive dialogue is initiated and better communication of current products would take place. This task involves a huge amount of capital investment. Being a significant part of the sales operation, this function cannot be ignored by M&S. Personal selling has an advantage of being scalable and measurable. This feature enables analysts to develop future predictions or sales forecasts for the concerned products or services (McClaren, 2013). Other supports which are given to the promotional mix of product through personal selling is flexibility. Despite of these many benefits, the inconsistency which occurs with this type of operations leads to failure of sales strategy.
Personal and impersonal communication both holds much importance as that not only leads to product selling; but also it ensures to meet the requirements of customers. At the same time, it can also be said that while carrying out the personal selling activity, organization needs to specify the objectives of promotional activity as well. In this way, chief emphasis shall also be laid on push-pull strategies to enhance the market competency and business capabilities. Marks and Spencer needs to integrate all the promotional activities with organizational practices so as to enhance the sales ratio.
1.2 Effects of Buyer Behaviour and Decision Making Process
M&S stands on a very strong position in the international markets when fashion and clothing industry is considered. There are certain aspects which still can affect its functioning. These include buyer behaviour and the decision making process. Consumers are centre for the growth of company. Henceforth, it becomes essential to develop products in such a way that demands and needs of purchasers will get fulfilled (Karimi, Papamichail and Holland, 2015). Buyer behaviour and decisions are greatly influenced by the products and pricing strategies of competitors. For instance: Tommy Hilfiger is the major competitor of M&S. If customers find the products and services of Tommy more affordable and interesting as compared to M&S, then purchases will be made according to this preferable choice.
There are various factors which influence buyer’s behaviour and decisions. Social, cultural, personal and psychological factors are some of these which directly affect the choices and purchases that an individual makes. Hence, sales operations have to be planned by amalgamating marketing strategies smoothly so that the impact of buyer behaviour and decision making would prove to be quite positive over the functioning of company (Kuvykaite, Dovaliene and Navickiene, 2015). Price and attributes of a product are two criteria which influence the buying behaviour. Hence, M&S needs to focus on creating strategies which will help in attracting more customers.
There are several factors that changes the decision making aspects of consumers such as personal, social and psychological and all such forces usually leads to purchase of products. But, at the same time along with external factors, there are various internal factors as well that leads to changes in purchase decision making process. Demands of customers usually get influenced because of decision-making unit which includes varied variables that impedes company’s sales and profitability.
1.3 Role of Sales Team in Marketing Strategy
Sales team in M&S plays a significant role in the marketing strategy of company. These roles have been depicted as follows:
- Distributors: The technique through which products and services have to be delivered or communicated to customers is planned and depicted in the marketing strategy. But the medium through which these have to be distributed is not specific. Sales force or field reps perform this task. They carry out the execution part of marketing strategy which involves appropriate distribution of products and services.
- Brand Awareness: Small and medium businessmen that are linked with M&S have to be well informed about the strategies and products of company. This function of professional communication and brand awareness among customers and merchants is carried out by sales executives (Gluck, 2017).
- Reducing Objections: There are different types of objections faced by organisation whenever a product or service is launched. Salesperson cannot be intimidated by these objections and he/she has to implement certain tactics for answering and overcoming these oppositions.
- Developing Commitment: Most important component of smooth organisational functioning is commitment and integrity. Sales-force plays the role of binder and develops commitment of company towards its customers and clients through the best in class products and services.
- Targeting: The potential customers of company have to be targeted and positioned by sales people according to marketing strategy. It helps in increasing customer share and also, helps in developing an insight about the effectiveness of marketing strategy.
Sales team of Marks and Spencer is required to focus on competitor’s products as well so that customers can be associated with the company only. This also holds more importance in roles and responsibilities of sales team. Further, sales team is required to keep records in the database so that areas of improvements and modifications can be found out. Further, there should be proper communication among the sales team and customers.
Through this assessment, one can easily understand the importance of sales in developing an effective marketing strategy. Moreover, the impact of buyer behaviour and decisions on the functioning of M&S is also depicted. Above all, it is important to have personal selling team in an organisation so that one-to-one contact with the firm can be made.
2.1 Developing Sales Strategies with Corporate Objectives
Business organisations develop corporate objectives so that a well-defined path can be obtained. This further helps in building up other operations and functions of the company. M&S has a corporate objective of attaining a strong position in the market with best quality products and services. Sales strategy is a medium through which net profit acquired by the selling of products and services can be estimated (Gounaris, 2016). Corporate objectives are considered as the statements which reflect strategic intent of an organisation. The sales strategies can be developed in line with corporate objectives when following attributes are followed:
- Consideration of client or customer demands.
- When focus is shifted from profits to customer loyalty.
- Target and short term goals reflecting the market demands.
Aforementioned aspects helps in developing a sales strategy and plan according to the corporate objectives of M&S. The company can meet the minimum sales requirements only when the objectives are accurate, appropriate and relevant to the ones defined while developing corporate strategy.
There must be proper alignment between sales strategies and corporate objectives of Marks and Spencer as through that only, business value can be enhanced. Thus, in this respect marketing objectives should be developed through considering corporate objectives of the business entity. Sales strategy should also focus on forecasting so that Marks and Spencer can make planning accordingly. At this stage, Marks and Spencer is also required to make different strategies for selling for overall profitability of the company.
2.2 Importance of Recruitment and Selection
Human resource is the only thing that drives an organisation. M&S being a retail sector organisation has to perform recruitment and selection process so that business can be developed by utilising more skills and knowledge. There is a huge impact of effective recruitment and selection on the functioning of company. Apart from improvements in competencies, the company can experience significant increase in speed of achieving goals and objectives. Responsible and reliable candidates bring in greater developments and profitability (Johnston and Marshall, 2016).
The recruitment and selection process has a crucial part that is preparation of job descriptions and person specifications. These two attributes communicate the entire requirements of the company to the eligible candidate. Further, the criticality increases when preparation techniques are efficient enough. The use of proper monitoring and supervision helps in creating an efficient work pathway for M&S. Since, all these attributes are interlinked with the entire process, it is important for the company to develop an efficient recruitment and selection process.
Sales management is also comprised of the individuals that work for the company but have specific skill sets regarding sales planning and implementation. The selection and recruitment when performed correctly brings in huge benefits for M&S. The reputation of company shall improve in the eyes of clients and customers. Moreover, the resources applied for development of these candidates will not be wasted.
2.3 Role of Motivation, Remuneration and Training
Sales management is considered to be more efficient if following attributes are considered:
Motivation: The manager of leader who is guiding and leading the sales force has a responsibility of developing motivation and enthusiasm amongst the team members. Sales management when instigated with motivation brings in can improve productivity and profitability. Employees will be more willing to work and put in more efforts to help M&S achieve its goals and objectives. Target setting and team building exercises shall be introduced for motivating the individuals. Appraisals and incentives which can be financial or non-financial based on the capabilities and service quality of the employees are one of the primary methods of boosting morale and increasing motivation.
Training: Skills and knowledge are the only things which are helpful in utilising every other resource for the company. M&S can enhance sales management when training is provided to individuals depending on their current needs and requirements. When knowledge level of employees is increased, they will find innovative techniques of performing their tasks and other business operations (Aydin and Kaya, 2016). Training should be provided to employees with specific products and they must be equipped with knowledge regarding development of sales manual. These dimensional attributes help in continuous professional development in M&S. The company must focus these through on the job training.
Remuneration: Majority of employees working in M&S are influenced by remuneration. The amount paid to employees for providing specific services is considered as remuneration. Commission, compensation and performance linked incentives are some of the techniques which can be introduced as a part of sales management for enhancing employee motivation and productivity (Gounaris, 2016).
2.4 Organising Sales Activity and Controlling Output
Sales output is the figure which determines the volume of products that have been sold in a particular time frame. Sales management has to organise sales activities for M&S and determine regular outputs so that effective control measures can be adapted. Trade fairs or exhibitions are considered as the most convenient sales activity for the company. Sales management organises sales activity in trade fairs by rigorously advertising organisation's brand name and products (Importance of Effective Recruitment & Selection,2017). Particular representatives are allocated specific duties which are for controlling the sales output.
These representatives are given targets and deadlines which needs to be met for attaining incentives. These goals help in separating tasks according to their priorities and consequently there is no confusion created. Major focus of every sales representative is to judge the body language of prospective customer and then promote the products respectively by targeting on specific needs and requirements. M&S can have smooth sales operations through this type of sales management activity.
2.5 Use of Databases
M&S is a multinational organisation. This determines that the amount of production and number of customers are some figures which cannot be calculated or maintained manually. Computerised systems have been initiated for bringing in more ease and convenience in maintaining huge volumes of records and data. Database is one such computerised system. Cloud computing and Big Data are also one of the most popular data management software which are efficient in handling large volumes of information efficiently (The Advantages of a Sales Database,2017).
Sales management can be aided if M&S uses databases for maintaining information related to transactions or customers, etc. Moreover, inventory control is another significant feature which is gained by company when databases are implemented. Apart from these advantages, the company can witness improvements in scheduling and profitability when using databases.
The present section of the research study has been emphasizing on a sales plan that is useful in promoting a specific product and service. Thus, in this respect several promotional and marketing strategies are being discussed through which the business will enter in the market place. In addition to this, discussion has also been included regarding selling the products internationally through exhibitions and trade fairs.
4.1 Develop a Sales Plan for a Product or Service
In order to promote M&S Apple Juice, it is essential for the business entity to focus on suitable sales plan (Cheung and Prendergast, 2006). This is not only useful in generating awareness among customers; but also it helps the business entity to capture larger market share in retail sector. The plan includes the following things:
Mission statement of the company has been developed for the purpose of specifying what the company wishes to achieve through bringing this new product at market place. Thus, according to the mission of the company, M&S Apple Juice is also introduced for the purpose of meeting changing needs of customers.
The main of bringing M&S Apple Juice at the market place is to enhance the sales and profitability aspects of the business especially in grocery department.
It is essential for Marks and Spencer to emphasize on new product development strategy so that new products can be suitably developed through adding several new elements in the existing product line (Chen and Huddleston, 2000). At the same, chief emphasis should be given on promotional strategies so that M&S Apple Juice can be promoted among the customers in the best possible manner. This is also crucial in terms of enhancing customer base. This is also essential in terms of enhancing brand image of the company.
4.2 Investigate Opportunities for Selling Internationally
Marks and Spencer has been focusing on international business activities as well so that brand image of the organization can be enhanced (Calfa and et.al,. 2015). At the same time, Marks and Spencer has many opportunities to sell the products in global market which can also assist in building the customer base. However, on the other hand the brand value of products of Marks and Spencer could be enhanced through operating the business in developed market place.
The business might be facing competition from other entities; but then due to innovative product (M&S Apple Juice), the value of product can be increased. This can also have a greater impact on business sustainability and profitability facets. At the same time, Marks and Spencer has to ensure that focus is laid on environmental factors which changes business decisions in many ways (Channon and Jalland, 2016).
4.3 Investigate Opportunities for using Exhibitions or Trade Fairs
Trade fairs and exhibitions play important role in promoting the product and service in numerous market place and it is also useful in terms of enhancing the ratio of customers. Thus, in this respect Marks and Spencer can also participate in trade fairs and exhibitions as that will allow the business to capture the interest of different customers on greater extent (Bozarth and Handfield, 2015). Alongside, Marks and Spencer should also focus on preparing a sales budget as on that basis, all the activities of promotion needs to be carried on.
Apart from this, it is also crucial for Marks and Spencer to promote the business through adding several new attributes in beverages. This can aid the organization to focus more on enticing large number of end users towards Apple Juice. Thus, accordingly it can be said that participating in trade fairs and exhibitions could assist Marks and Spencer to generate awareness among customers regarding the new product which is brought to the market place by considering the changing needs of end users (Bilginer and Erhun, 2015).
Summing up the entire research study, it can be said that prior entering into international market place, it is essential for Marks and Spencer to identify the market scenario so that the level of competition can be analysed. This is also useful in terms of framing appropriate business strategies for meeting diverse needs of customers.
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