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Researching Potential Customers and Competitors for Professional Sales

Learning Objectives

A professional salesperson gathers information before they approach a customer. Currently, the salesperson gathers information on the potential prospect and their industry, the industry their firm participates in and the competitor product or service you are selling against.  Please note that this assignment is designed to illustrate the scope of knowledge required by professional salespeople.  Some of the information will be unavailable to those outside the industry. However, you should check more than just a “Google” search.  Look at annual reports, journals, magazines, and newspapers

Required:  A brief email informing your instructor of the product you want to sell, your company who is selling the product and potential customers. Your instructor must approve your choice of products before you begin working on the next assignment.  If you are having trouble thinking of an appropriate product, please talk to your instructor before this assignment is due.

Learning Objectives:

1. To understand the importance of researching potential customers prior to contacting them

To develop an appreciation of the importance of strategically thinking through what it is you are going to do.

To appreciate the level of preparation required to conduct a professional sales call

In the report – about 4 - 5 pages – business style, single spaced in word format

Develop and describe your personal selling philosophy – short section.

Describe the product or service you want to sell for this assignment, the company you are selling the product for,

Company information and history of the company, product line, size, sales area.

Have sales for the product been growing or declining?

What major improvements have been made in recent years?

How can this product best be demonstrated?

List several reasons why customers should buy from this firm

Describe the features and benefits of the product relevant to your chosen target market.

Does the firm offer any warranties or guarantees?

What services does your company offer its customers after a sale is made?

Pricing of product

Current promotional and distribution.

Prospect information. – describe to whom you want to sell this product (who is your B2B target market). Identify at least two firms by name and get the name of a possibly contact.

What type of organization is it? (Manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, etc.)

How large is the firm?  How long has it been in business?

What industry is this firm and relevant information on this industry

What product lines does it sell?

Needs of the company

What are some potential problems of this firm and how can your product or service solve the problems or satisfy the needs?

Who makes the buying decisions for your product or service at this firm?  What is the person’s title and major responsibilities for that company? More than just purchasing manager. Look at Linked-in

If you are selling a product to a wholesaler or retailer who will resell it to the ultimate consumer (for example, food products or clothing):

What are the characteristics of the typical consumer (age, income, etc.)?

What problems or needs does the consumer have that are related to your product?

Industry Information   - describe the industry your product services.

What is the history of the industry?

What is the size of the total industry in terms of sales?  Is the industry growing?  

What advancements have been made in the industry in recent years?

Competitor Information - Identify two of your firm’s main competitors and secure the following information for this competitor: This can be written up using a competitor analysis grid.

Has your company been in business longer than your competitor?  What is the size of your competitor in relation to your firm?  Is it growing more quickly or more slowly than your firm is?

What is your competitor’s policy on extending credit to its customers?  Are your firm’s policies more or less liberal?

What price does your competitor charge for its product or service?  How does it compare to your firm?

How does the product compare?

How quickly can your competitor deliver its product or perform its service compared to your firm?

What services does the competitor offer its customers after a sale is made?

What are your competitor’s major strengths and weaknesses?

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