Take time to make time : What to consider when managing multi-channel sales systems with the objective to increase sales efficiency
Abstract: Traditional sales systems have been disrupted by technological developments. In order to adapt, companies are changing the way they interact with their customers in business-to-business markets. In the last three decades, multi-channel strategies have spurred the proliferation of different sales channels and new ways of managing sales systems. The purpose of this research was to investigate what should be considered when managing multi-channel sales systems with the objective of increasing sales efficiency. The study has investigated current utilisation of multi-channel sales systems in the context of a business-to-business setting in industrial companies that are involved in the Swedish automotive industry. Multi-channel sales systems can be utilised to achieve many different objectives. However, this research pays specific attention on how to improve sales efficiency by utilising multi-channel sales systems in the context of a business-to-business setting. The research employed an explorative case study, where semi-structured and structured interviews were conducted at a case company and at companies that are first or second tier suppliers in the Swedish automotive industry. The qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis. The empirical findings indicate that the most prevalent measure for increasing sales efficiency is to prioritise and allocate customers based on economic attractiveness. Furthermore, the key issues that impede sales efficiency in multi-channels sales system are misaligned sales activities, deficient prioritisation procedures, insufficient promotion of customer value and inadequate focus on customers. The findings highlight key areas to address and may provide guidelines for the design and management of multi-channel sales systems with the specific purpose of obtaining sales efficiency. The implications of this research are mainly practical and are aimed at supporting sales managers, or individuals in similar positions engaged in multi-channel sales system design and management, in obtaining sales efficiency. Managers should focus on aligning sales activities across the whole sales system, allocate customers according to prioritisation and stay in line with market developments by understanding customer behaviours and perceptions.
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