This article was mainly focused on how relationship marketing is the new marketing. Over time, salespeople have discovered the competitive advantages in maintaining close relationships with customers. Just looking at the different eras of salespeople and their behaviors with clients can prove this. In the production role era, for example, salespeople were mainly concerned with the short-term needs of a client. Therefore, the salesperson’s only duties were to inform customers about products and services available and take orders that later shifted to aggressive selling techniques and persuading customers in the sales role era, then to more of a compromising attitude where customer’s needs were somewhat taken into account in the marketing role era.
Now, the partnering role, focused on long-term success for both parties, increases profitability by creating a competitive advantage with the firms’ unique relationship.
In the partnering role, salespeople understand the customer’s needs and are there to satisfy them, not just to sell a product or service, managing conflict in the partnering era is also noted to be very important.
Because most of the success between the two parties is based on maintaining the relationship long term, conflicts cannot be ignored. Many people even find that managing conflict between two parties helps the relationship to grow even stronger. This article mentions five different conflict management approaches: avoidance, accommodation, confrontation, compromise, and collaboration. Of the five, compromise and collaboration were considered the two best approaches, with the latter being superior. All five are measured in levels of assertiveness and cooperation, with avoidance, accommodation, and confrontation scoring too low in at least one of the measures.
While compromise between two parties involves some win-lose in order to find a happy medium (middle- ground for assertiveness and cooperation), collaboration forces both parties to brainstorm and work together to arrive at a win-win situation (high assertiveness and high cooperation). Sales management in the partnering era also shows some differences, specifically in structure. Instead of being assigned to a specific geographical region or industry, sales management assigns salespeople and sales teams to specific customers. This ensures that the customer’s needs are always first in business. When it comes to rewarding salespeople, promotion can be difficult because the top salespeople aren’t always the best at sales management. In addition, it’s important to maintain a relationship with customers even as a sales managen.
After reading this article, it was interesting to see how the personal selling industry has progressed, from the production role to the sales role to the marketing role and finally the partnering role It definitely makes more sense now as to why there are bad connotations towards salespeople, considering that the sales role’s main focus was on stimulating, not satisfying, demand for products. The approaches to conflict management were almost identical to the ones discussed in class, except for “confrontation” being replaced with “competing”i The levels of assertiveness and cooperation were still the same between the two, though.
In terms of promotion, we also talked in class about how those who are top in sales aren’t always the best sales managers and vice versa. The article’s overall focus on selling to the customer only based on need and building lasting relationships is something we have also discussed frequently in class as necessary to have a rewarding career in sales. All in all, the authors of this article explained how the art of personal selling has shifted towards building lasting relationships with customers instead of having short-term sales goals, and many key principles to follow in order to be successful in the partnering role era of sales.