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Unilever PLC is a British-based multinational consumer goods brand. The firm is headquartered in London, England (Chiedu, 2017). Unilever is considered to be one of the largest manufacturers of consumer goods in the world which deals with a variety of products which range from food, luxury items, toiletries, condiments, medicines, and so on. The reach of this firm is spread over 190 countries all across the world and is considered to be the biggest manufacturer of soap. This firm owns over 400 and makes yearly revenue of 51 billion euros. Unilever credits its origination to the merger of a British soap maker named Lever Brothers and a Dutch Margarine. It was established on the 2nd of September 1929. From the later parts of the twentieth century, the firm started rampant manufacture of fats and oils and became a market leader. Unilever has also acquired many companies in its very long tenure that included big brand names like; Brooke Bond, Best Foods, Lipton, Dollar Shave Club, and so on. For a very long time Unilever's primary area of focus remained foods and dietary supplements however, a decade after the turning of the millennium, the firm started expanding its breaches towards beauty and healthcare as well. This was possible under the supervision and guidance of Paul Polman; however, this tactic did not work as well as expected, the growth of the company saw serious stagnation. It was then that the refocus took place.
The firm takes pride in a primary-natured listing in the London Stock Exchange. It is also a proud constituent of the famous FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) 100 Index. The firm possesses a secondary natured listing in the Euronext Amsterdam. It is also a constituent within the AEX (Amsterdam Exchange Index). The company also finds itself in the listing of the New York Stock Exchange and it is also a valued component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market Index.
As mentioned, this firm operates in more than 190 countries across the globe. Unilever has been a consistent leader in terms of excellence and quality within the ‘Fast Moving Consumer Goods’ (Murphy and Murphy, 2018). The firm primarily deals with beauty and personal care, refreshments and foods, and finally home care. Over time the first component of the three has come to produce the most revenue which was the same case in 2020.
In 2020, the annual revenue generated by the firm came to be 50.7 billion euros which were considered to be around 2.4 percent lesser than the sales of 2019. Alan Jope, the Chief Executive Officer of the firm stated this reduction of revenue is the direct result of the lessening standard of living within the middle class who are the main customers of Unilever. This happened primarily due to the pandemic which resulted in rapid unemployment of various sections leading to the overall decline of the standard of living of the customers.
The year 2021 saw the enhancement and betterment of the overall condition of the company. The overall underlying growth in sales had seen a jump of 4.5 percent which was the greatest in the last nine years. Reports suggest that the 4.5 percent growth was comprised of 1.6 percent in volume and 2.9 percent in price. The dividend growth per share was up to 3 percent. There was a solid 3.4 percent increase in the overall turnover and finally, the underlying profit percentage increased to 2.9 percent. Jope stated that India, the US, and China became priority markets in this year where there was 14.3 percent, 3.7 percent, and 13.4 percent growth respectively. In a comparison with Unilever's lead competitors, the e-commerce growth of this brand was about 44 percent in the year 2021. The revenue generated by e-commerce only saw a phenomenal growth of 13 percent in the same year. Unilever expects that the underlying growth in sales of the firm will range between 4.5 to 6.5 percent in the year 2022 (Tien, 2019). Jope has accepted that the global inflation rate has drastically affected the growth of the firm.
Sales management as the name suggests is the primary principle(s) that help a sales manager enhance sales. These principles are no rocket science; however, each of them does possess certain credibility which helps the sales of a company grow in a multi-dimensional aspect as a whole. Following are the primary principles of sales management;
Consumer buying behavior is highly affected by the promotional activities of sales or sales management as the success of a particular business organization is greatly dependent on the way sales management is handled. Consumer buying behavior refers to the behavior shown by customers at the time of buying a particular product. Sales management involves several aspects such as selling incentives, advertisements, packaging and offers that affect the behavior of the consumer. The concepts of consistency, delegation, and conviction are vital in affecting consumer behavior (Chunawalla, 2021). The concept of business buying behavior is similar to that of consumer buying behavior. However, instead of an individual customer, an entire business buys products in bulk. Sales management affects the buying behavior of a business to quite some extent. The sales management principles namely consistency, delegation, equality and conviction are vital in this regard. Unilever is seen to properly manage their sales prospect which has helped them in positively influencing the customer buying behavior as well as business buying behavior of the company. This has helped Unilever to grow over the years.
It is often seen that sales employees do not perform well. At these times leaders are seen to talk ill about the sales strategy or sales management of the company. However, these problems are often seen to grow from the sales structure followed by a particular company. The salesforce structure followed by a company must be complex and well crafted catering to all requirements of sales (Malek, et al., 2018). However, most organizations fail to adopt a suitable sales structure which leads to problems in their sales. Sales structures are essential of four main types namely geographic organizational structure, the structure of product sales force, Market-oriented structure, and Functional structure. Adopting the appropriate structure facilitates sales growth which leads to the overall growth of the company. The benefits, as well as problems in the sales structure, have been outlined in the following which can help organizations to decide which structure is appropriate for them.
Geographic organization structure: Geographic organization structure is often referred to as the structure of a territorial sales force. According to this structure, the organization assigns a particular sales rep to a specific geographic location. The major benefit of this structure is that it requires a low cost for handling the sales team. Further, if the territory management is done properly then it can lead to rather low efforts of geographic duplication (Rapp and Beeler, 2021). In addition to this, Geographic structure involves low efforts of duplication concerning customers. However, it should be mentioned that this particular benefit is not applicable when the buyers are multinational organizations crossing territories. However, this structure has several disadvantages including a hard time for the sales rep in developing the market or product specialization. This problem is not applicable if the organization hires a specialized workforce and allocates based on geography. Further, sizing of the territory can be challenging which results in uneven opportunity/ revenue across geographies.
Structure of Product sales force: In this particular structure, the area of responsibility of the sales team is defined by the product groups or individual products without consideration of the geographic lines. Adoption of this particular sales structure has several benefits which have been outlined in the following. Firstly, in this structure, the sales rep or sales team can develop expertise over product. Secondly, the management can effectively guide the efforts of selling. However, this particular structure also has some major problems which should be considered while adopting this structure (Misra, 2019). Firstly, sales management according to this structure requires a higher cost as a result of effort duplication within customer accounts as well as geographies. Further, a higher level of coordination is needed when a significantly higher number of the sales team have the same account or geography. However, this particular aspect is lacking in the structure of the Product sales force.
Market-oriented structure: The market-oriented structure is often referred to as the structure of the customer sales force. This particular structure involves the grouping of the sales representative based on industry or customer. Adoption of this structure has some specific benefits which have been outlined in the following. Under this structure, the sales representatives can understand the needs of the customer better thereby building a strong relationship with them. Moreover in this structure, the control management can be strategically given to various types of markets. However, this structure of sales management has some problems that should be considered while adopting this structure (Gustafson, et al., 2018). Firstly, implementation of this sales structure requires a rather high cost. Secondly, there are chances of geographic duplication in this structure.
Functional structure: The functional structure is particularly helpful as it divides up responsibilities based on each sales representative based on their place in the process of sales. These responsibilities involve account manager, inside sales product sales, etc. Adoption of this sales structure is particularly beneficial for companies as it facilitates highly efficient activities of selling. However, this structure has some core problems that should be considered during the adoption of this structure by multinational organizations. Firstly, this specific structure facilitates Geographic duplication. Secondly, the structure also facilitates customer duplication. Lastly, in the functional structure, a lack of coordination among the sales representatives can be noticed. Hence there is an acute need for greater coordination.
Sales or the selling of products is all around us. Sales refer to the reason that motivates an individual running a business venture to make enough profits so that they can grow in the long run. In this context selling through others is very important as it helps in the growth of a business venture (Vasquez-Parraga and Kara, 2019). How this can be done is through converting the interest of the related audience in the form of sales. Hence, altogether it explains the importance of selling through others. In this context, it should be mentioned that the importance of selling through others is not immediately or automatically translated into a business task that can be accomplished easily. Most business entrepreneurs or owners will agree that making the first sales after starting a business is particularly difficult. However, if the process of selling through other sis is adopted then this aspect becomes easier to some extent. That's why it is highly important.
There are many advantages of selling through others or selling through distributors. These have been outlined in the following.
Since the beginning of its operations, Unilever has opted for selling its products through others. This made their initial sales of products quite easy. Further, it has also helped them to maintain as well as grow their sales operations over the years. The company has its own sales channel, but selling through others has contributed significantly to its business growth over the years.
Successful selling has some key principles and these contribute significantly to the building and managing a successful customer relationship.
Retention: Customer retention is a vital principle for achieving success selling within a particular business. Growth in the customer base directly increases the sales of the company. However, retaining customers is necessary to maintain the company's profits.
Data: Information is vital for any business. Access or lack of access to the required data can make as well as break sales. If the sales representatives do not have the appropriate information in their possession then they face severe risks of looking incompetent to a particular client or maybe loss of credibility.
Social: In modern times social media has become an important medium for sales advertisements. Every individual from young to old uses some form of social media platform. Hence, properly advertising different prospects of sales via social media can build suitable customer relationships (Hase and Busch, 2018).
Culture: Business culture is not something new. However, the sales culture is different from other types of culture within the organization. Building a positive culture of sales can help a company to build suitable customer relationships which can, in turn, lead to its growth over time.
Technology: An important prospect of selling is to understand when one can utilize technology to boost their sales. Utilization of appropriate technology at the appropriate time can help in boosting sales and maintaining effective customer relationships.
Unilever puts a significant amount of focus on these key aspects of successful selling which has helped them in building successful customer relationships over the years.
Developing an appropriate sales strategy is of utmost importance. This is because any business ultimately grows solely depending on its sales. How much profit or revenue is being generated by the company solely depends on its sales strategy. The sales strategy of a company can be devised through engaging in the implementation or creation of the sales management system. Sales strategy can be defined as a technique for formulating strength of sales, sales operations synchronization, as well as application of sales skills that allow the business to improvise thereby regularly exceeding the sales target.
Account management refers to the management of the financial accounts of an organization. Funds or finances are necessary for every aspect of running an organization. This is also true for the sales department. An organization should make sure that sufficient funds are always available to run all operations within the sales process. Unilever has properly done account management in its sales structure over the years (Tien, 2019).
The entire report has been written on the core topic of sales management. This topic has been thoroughly discussed through carefully assessing all sales operations of the well-known company Unilever. The core topic has been thoroughly analyzed through several subtopics namely principles of sales management, the importance of selling through others, etc.
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