The clock in Ted Schulte’s home office was striking 11:00 p.m. His children had gone to bed hours ago. Yet Schulte, an account representative who sells pacemakers for Guidant, was on the phone talking to one of his clients, a cardiologist. The cardiologist was performing surgery at 7:00 a.m. the next day. His patient had a number of health problems that caused the doctor to question which pacemaker would best suit her needs. The cardiologist’s questions had to be answered immediately so the right materials and tools would be available for the procedure. The best expert on the matter was not another physician in this case—it was Schulte.
When you visit your physician, you want to think that her training and education have completely prepared her for dealing with whatever condition sent you there. The reality is, however, that salespeople play a major role in her continuing education. Similarly, the house or apartment you live in may have been designed by an architect, but that architect’s choices in materials and design elements were influenced by salespeople, each of whom are experts in a particular product category. Not only was the food you eat sold to the grocery store by a salesperson, but the ingredients were also sold to the food companies by salespeople.
Salespeople play an important role in our economy. They are vital to customers and companies alike. In this chapter, we explore the role professional selling plays in terms of a company’s marketing strategy. We also look at the factors that enhance a firm’s success when it markets and sells its products through salespeople.