Success in business depends on the presence of all important factors or ingredients Jain, Trehan, and Trehan (2003, p.16). These factors include proper and professional management of the organization’s resources (financial and non-financial) and the ability of an organization to satisfy its customers by way of embracing and maintaining superior customer service. Other critical factors are an organization’s commitment to satisfaction and happiness of its employees, levels of understanding of business environments by the management, an organization’s competitive advantages and business relationships with all stakeholders such as suppliers, shareholders, authorities, competitors, and the surrounding society.
The management shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that these essential ingredients for success in business are put in place and maintained by the necessary stakeholders Jain, Trehan, and Trehan (2003, p.16). The aims of this report are: to identify, analyze and recommend marketing communication tools that Cloud Creative Solutions (CCS) can adopt in its bid to increase its client base; discuss various ways that Peter and Sarah (CCS’ executives) can use to organize their sales force and in the light of the current economic climate discuss to what extent relationship variables and business networks are likely to be important for CCS both now and in future.
Marketing Communication Tools that CCS can adopt
Business environments are constantly fluid in the sense that they keep on changing in manners that necessitate the need for a business organization to be objectively flexible Jain, Trehan, and Trehan (2003, p.16). The ever-changing markets require that the management of a business organization keep up to date with changes occurring in the internal as well as external business environments so as to continue making a profit and remain solvent.
The sensitivity of this fact is hinged upon the fact that most of the changes occur in the areas where the management of a business organization does not have control upon. Yet these environments are the major source of factors that determine whether an organization succeeds or it does not. Marketing is an important process in business without which your superior products or services may not fulfill its intention, which is the satisfaction of your customer needs (Silk 2006, p.3).
According to Silk, marketing is the process of planning and implementing the progress, setting prices, advertising, and delivery of goods, ideas, and services to make possible transactions that satisfy individual and organizational objectives (Silk 2006, p.3; Lamb, Hair and McDaniel 2011, p.3). Marketers Charles W. Lamb, Joseph F. Hair, Carl McDaniel (2011, p.3) argues that marketing has two main facets. First marketing is a management orientation, philosophy, or an attitude that emphasizes customer satisfaction and, secondly is processes and activities (Lamb, Hair and McDaniel 2011, p.3; Kasper 2005, p.5).
Viewing marketing as an exchange process makes understanding, forecasting, and persuading or influencing of the customers, the distinctive and core task of the marketing function. The objectives of the marketing professionals should, therefore, be to make sure that clients understand the basic concept underlying a given product or service; to explain to customers the importance of the company’s product or service to their needs; to get rid of or alleviate barriers to exchange so that customers can engage in an exchange with minimal effort and to build up and manage dependable affiliations with customers, thereby providing the framework within which exchanges occurs. Therefore, marketing is a critical process whose efficiency determines whether a firm has the ability to retain and expand its customer base by creating value for them Lamb, Hair, and McDaniel (2011, p.3).
Here it is important to remember that the number of customers that an organization has and their willingness to buy and continue buying its product or services determines the overall success because they are the main source of financial resources needed to retain a firm’s profitability and solvency Tehran and Tehran (2010,P.4). Thus a dwindling customer base should be dealt with professionally and thoroughly in order to sustain an organization’s survival. Furthermore, the organization should always be on the lookout in respect to how it can expand its market base. Below see a diagrammatic representation of Marketing 4p’s.
Owing to the importance of marketing in relation to success in business, marketing communication tools should be carefully selected so as to enable the marketing department of a firm to achieve the above enumerated fundamental marketing objectives. There are various marketing communication instruments that a firm can select and combine to form what marketing experts call communication or marketing mix Egan(2007,p.370). These tools include: advertising, sales promotion, public relations (PR), product placement, sponsoring, personal selling, fairs or exhibitions, event marketing and new media Busch, Seidenspinner and Unger (2007,p.148).
Choosing the most useful and efficient mixture of communication tools from a typical communication mix and determining their most suitable usage in conformity with the particular business communication plans poses the biggest challenge that communication managers and marketing professionals have to grapple with also see (Busch, Seidenspinner and Unger 2007,p.148; Egan 2007,p.370). Rainer Busch, Margarete Seidenspinner, Fritz Unger (2007,p.148) further explains that the difficulty of this challenge arises from the very fact there is an increasingly high number of communication tools from which you can choose as well as the cumulative interrelations between the tools arising from combined usage of marketing communication tools that must be taken into account.
In order to boost its current communication tools, CCS can also adopt new media and advertising. These tools, in combination with its present instruments, will help CCS to make an effective communication mix that will help it win new business. Trade advertising, to a large extent, uses specialist publications, including consumer magazines, advertisements or newspaper inserts, trade journals as well as radio spots, TV commercials, and posters or outdoor boards Egan(2007,p.370). Egan argues that B2B organizations advertise in mass media for reasons related to company image and brand name awareness and progress Tehran and Tehran (2010,P.4).
Tehran and Tehran (2010, P.4) assert that advertising is a significant method of influencing potential customers and that it is an important instrument of communication and promotion. Advertising suits CCS current need because it influences customer feelings and buying behavior and raises brand awareness, builds up brand image, and helps a business organization to increase its market base, which is exactly what CCS is seeking to achieve Tehran and Tehran (2010,P.4).
CCS should take advantage of internet-based advertising, which has grown in importance. To achieve this CCS should establish a high profile web presence by creating an attractive and customer friendly website with the most interactivity and helpful customer care Egan (2007, p.371). Through mass media and trade press CCS and now web advertising will manage to expand its tentacles beyond its current business frontiers. Once its products and services become familiar to many among its target audience, CCS will find it easier to pursue potential clients to buy.
However, CCS should note that even though advertising will play a significant role in influencing the target audience, by itself, it cannot sell its products and services Tehran and Tehran (2010,p.4). Advertising cannot sell products of poor quality or products that do not meet the expectations of its customers.CCS should, therefore, consistently improve the quality of their services and products through product differentiation in order to make advertising endeavors productive Tehran and Tehran (2010,p.4).
New media has drastically changed the way we do business so much so that failure to invest in suitable technologies for your business in this age and era is tantamount to committing business suicide Coker and Murray (2000, p. 130). This fact is anchored on the premise that more and more people, especially the young and middle-aged who are techno-savvy, are turning to other sources of information. The internet, in particular, has reduced the number of young people who relies on traditional sources of information like traditional newspapers. The majority of young people have turned to the internet for most of their information needs Coker and Murray (2000, p. 130).
Generally, the buyers dominate the markets today mainly because they have access to more information about markets through the web than they could access in the older days when Information Communication Technology had not yet attained the kind of advancement it has attained today Coker and Murray (2000,p. 130). Majority of the buyers especially in the developed world where many are techno savvy and can afford to reach the internet turns to the web to look for information about whatever product or service they are intending to purchase. They will compare quality and price of similar products or services offered by a group of companies before deciding from who to buy.
Apart from searching for information about products and services in the web, majority of them gets to know about product and services available in the market through new media because as mentioned above it is their exclusive source of virtually all kinds of information Coker and Murray (2000,p. 130).CCS should take advantage of the online shopping trends like internet shopping as well as home shopping and telephone shopping which are increasingly becoming important in virtually all markets Egan (2007, p.148). They can also invest in offline forms of new media such as CDs Egan (2007, p.148).
Methods of Organizing Sales Force
The sales personnel are the link between an organization and the highly wanted customers without whom an organization can not exist because its ultimate goal is to satisfy needs of a specific target audience and thereby make profits and remain solvent. The sales persons of an organization has the potential to tarnish or build the image of an organization within the market Koekemoer and Bird (2004, p.222).Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413) argues that effective management of the business-to-business sales force is essential to the firm’s success. Hutt and speh define sales management as the planning, organizing, directing and controlling personal selling efforts. Sales force decisions should be incorporated with the fundamentals of the marketing or communication mix.
There are various factors that determine how an organization’s sales force is formed Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413). These factors include the nature of the buyer behavior in each market segment, the organization of competitive selling, the diversity of the market section served, the part played by intermediaries in the marketing process and the nature and extent of the product line Hutt and Speh (2009,p.413). More often than not it is the organization’s financial strength that determines the viability of specific organizational forms.CCS can organize its sale force geographically, on product basis and on market basis.
Now that CCS is seeking to expand its business beyond its current business frontiers, geographical organization of the sales force will prove hardy in that endeavor. According to Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413), geographical organization is the most common form of sales organization. Under this organization each salesperson will sell CCS’ products and services in defined geographical area Cichelli (2010, p.39). Geographical sales organization is economical and thus it will enable CCS to minimize its marketing costs by reducing the travel distance and time between customers Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).
Also geographical organization will enable CCS’ sale person to know precisely which customers and prospects fall within their area of duty Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).However, geographical sales organization is limited in the sense that each of the salesperson have to sell all CCS’ products and attend to all customers in the territory and if the products have various applications selling may become difficult. In addition, the salesperson tends to have substantial freedom in deciding which products and services to lay emphasis on at the expense of other products and services Hutt and Speh (2009,p.413).However, this problem should be minimized by training salespersons on all products to be sold as well as through reliable control Hutt and Speh (2009,p.413).
Product-based sales is appropriate for CCS since it has a large complicated and diverse product line (Zoltners, Sionha and Zoltners 2001, p.120; Hutt and Speh 2009, p.413).This method of sales organization will prove helpful to CCS because of its product specialization and facilitation of the proficiency of the sales force Armstrong and Kotler (2001, p.6). Growth of the sales expertise is enhanced through salespersons specialization in considerably narrow units of the total product line of an organization Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).
Product based sales organization will enable its sales person to become more skillful at identifying and communicating with members of the buying centers. Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413) point out that the major advantage of this method is that it enables the sales to build up high level of product knowledge that in turn improves the value of the company’s total offering to customers. Product-based sales organization is suitable for CCS because it will help it to discover new market sectors in its bid to increase its market share by finding new business Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).
However, like other sales organization methods product-based is costly in term of developing and hiring specialized sales force especially in case of a small business organization that does not have a strong financial base Capon (2008,p.442). Nevertheless, CCS given its current turnover can afford to hire relatively well specialized sales force who will guarantee it returns in the long run. CCS executive s should remember that in business cheap is expensive. Therefore, CCS should be ready and willing to spend on building up and hiring effective sales force in the meantime for better results in the long run. To reduce selling expenses and improve productivity CCS should launch a program that will enable it to transform specialized salespersons into general-line specialists who have knowledge of all of its products Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).
CCS can also organize its new sales force by customer type Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).Through learning particular requirements of a specific industry or customer type the sales personnel will be enhanced to categorize and respond to elements that determine buying Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413).Market-based sales organization will enable CCS to access key market segments, thus allowing differentiated personnel selling strategies Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413). CCS can as well opt to combine the above described sales organization methods.
Importance of relationships in B2B
Reliable relationships and networks are key to success in business particularly with key stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, authorities among others Hutt and Speh (2009, p.9). Now that CCS specializes mainly in B2B trade effective relationships are bound to prove hardy now as well as in future Glynn (2009,p.5). Woodside (2010, p.4) notes that B2B relationships and the firm’s actions and outcomes are symbiotically independent. He further argues that lack of skills with respect to interacting with customers, suppliers and facilitators like advisors and consultants is bound to have profound impacts on the survival and success of CCS Woodside (2010, p.4).
Effective communication is a major prerequisite for success in B2B relationships.Efffective communication facilitates the formation of bonds and trust between you and your target audience in a given market segment Evans, O’Malley and Patterson (2004,p.15).CCS should therefore adopt and maintain effective marketing communication strategies which are reliable in developing trust between it and its specific customers. Personal selling is particularly effective in establishment of effective relationships. However, CCS should use other marketing communication instruments to supplement personal selling in order facilitate effective communication that will in turn enable it to establish reliable relationships (Sheth, 2001, p.295; Hutt and Speh (2009, p.413; Warkentin 2003,p.15).
It is important to note that an organization’s ability to establish effective relationships lies with salespersons efficiency which is largely dependent on individual salesperson’s social skills in terms of attitudes and ability to interact with persons of different status (Gummesson 2008, p.330; Albers 2004, p.40). Customers according to Coker and Murray (2000, p. 130) are today interested in salespersons who can give them reliable information about a given product or service in relation to their specific needs (Coker and Murray 2000, p. 130; Warkentin 2003, p.49). Therefore, any sign of inadequacy in terms of possession and understanding of the needed information on the part of salespersons is bound to severe relations between an organization and potential customers Duncan (2003,p.234).CCS should take that into account while deciding on how to organize its sales force.
Without a functional marketing strategy, an organization’s products and services can not realize their ultimate goal which is to satisfy needs of individual customers, groups of individuals and other organizations and thereby make profits for the firm. This fact is anchored on the premise that without marketing the target audience can neither know about the existence of the products and services nor understand the concept behind them in relation to their needs.CCS should therefore adopt effective marketing communication tools in order to furnish their potential customers with relevant information about their products and services thereby persuade them to buy for them so that it may increase its business. This report has recommended advertising and new media which CCS can adopt to boost its current communication tools.
Apart from the kind of marketing communication tools that CCS chooses, its relationships with other businesses will determine whether it will succeed in increasing its business or it will not.CCS should therefore establish healthy B2B relationships and organize its sales force using the most appropriate method that suits its kind of business. Its communications tools should be used well in establishing bonds of trust between it and its customers both current and new customers.
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