Apply management strategies to a business-to-business (B2B) salesforce.
You are the regional sales manager for International Herb Express (IHE) which is a large, US-based spice & herbs supplier. IHE sells to other businesses that purchase bulk spices and spice blends for use in their end products. The primary customers are baking and soup mix corporations that sell to other businesses, for example, bakeries, restaurants, other food-service, and regional grocery chains. IHE is launching a new spice blend that reflects a more diverse cultural & ethnic flavor profile than IHE’s traditional offerings.
The abridged marketing strategy for this new spice blend is to target both current customers, but also to reach new customers that are target regions with higher ethnic diversity and/or the more adventurous “foodies” market. The marketing efforts will focus on taste testing, sampling, and on-site promotion. IHE is launching this marketing plan to help create a product offering that is not as commodity-driven (as most spices and herbs are the same quality no matter where they are purchased) and can potentially offer higher profit margins.
It is important to note that spices and other ingredients are raw goods and traded as commodities. The raw price for these goods changes on a day-to-day basis. Pricing is based on classic supply and demand, though nature is a key contributor to the supply–extreme weather as well as health of crops have a direct impact on the supply chain and access to the raw goods.
As the year ends, the VP of Sales and Marketing asks you to review the current compensation program and to make a recommendation for the new year’s compensation program that will be presented to the full sales organization on a video conference at the end of the month. There are 8 members of the sales staff that are part of the compensation program.
For the current year, the sales staff (eight sales regional managers) was paid a base salary ($42,000) and then received a commission on a quarterly basis (6.1%) for all net invoiced orders in their region. The highest paid sales person received total salary and commission of $133,500, and the lowest paid sales person was paid $48,100. The total salary and commission for the sales team is $625,750. This resulted in profit of $1,757,500.
The company’s CFO was very happy with this program, but the VP of Sales & Marketing felt that the plan only focused on individual results. The VP felt that in order to encourage the sales staff to balance their efforts between the low-cost/high-volume items and the higher-margin new products, a new plan should reflect those goals. Both executives see the sales potential growing for the business. Both also want to begin “grooming” any current sales staff. Management wants to encourage current staff to be promoted or transferred to new opportunities. Management is aware of the growth expectation and they want the strongest team to be in place in the best positions.
You are to create a proposal that:
- Outlines at least two compensation programs and then make a recommendation for which program would be more ideal.
- Suggests a training program for regional sales managers to obtain leadership skills as well as reinforcing B2B skills that trainees can use to prepare for future promotional opportunities.
- The training program may or may not be part of the compensation program. Identify and defend which approach you support.