What are the duties of a sales department?

The sales department is responsible for generating revenue by finding new customers and managing relationships with existing ones. A typical sales department consists of a sales manager leading a team of sales representatives and sales administrators. In a larger company, the department may also include regional sales managers, key account managers who deal with the company’s largest customers, and channel managers responsible for sales to wholesalers and distributors.

Planning

Members of the sales department draw up plans to meet the company’s revenue targets. Using data on customers’ purchase histories and current orders, they forecast sales for each account and identify shortfalls in the overall revenue target which they must fill from new business. They set sales targets for sales regions, individual accounts and individual sales representatives. They may also develop targets for sales of different products. To ensure the best use of the sales department’s resources, the sales manager plans the boundaries of sales regions and allocates responsibility for specific accounts to individual sales representatives.

Prospecting

The sales department is responsible for finding prospects and converting them to paying customers. The marketing department generates leads by running advertising and promotional campaigns and capturing contact details of prospects who respond to special offers. The sales team qualifies the leads by contacting them to find out more about their interest in the company’s products and their intentions to buy. Sales representatives arrange meetings with the strongest prospects and maintain contact with decision makers until they have secured a sale.

Customer relationships

Building and strengthening relationships between the company and its customers is an important responsibility for the sales department. The team aims to maintain the loyalty of its customers so that it can increase long-term revenue on each account. The department also needs to protect the customer base against threats from competitors. Sales representatives plan regular visits to customers to update them on developments in the company and discuss their future purchasing requirements. As well as arranging face-to-face meetings, the sales department maintains contact by sending newsletters, product literature and emails offering special promotions or introducing new products.

Sales administration

The sales department is responsible for order administration. Team members take orders by post, email or telephone, check the order details and enter the data on a computer system. They advise the production and dispatch departments of customer requirements and agree delivery dates based on stock availability or production schedules. They confirm order receipt with customers and keep them informed on production progress and delivery arrangements. When orders have been completed, they update customer records.

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About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.

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