Business Marketing and Sales

Business Marketing and Sales

Course Number 1929

Senior Lecturer Frank V. Cespedes
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credit
24 Sessions
Project and Paper
Enrollment: Limited to 65 students in a session

Career Focus

You should take this course if you expect to join or start a business that markets products or services to other businesses or organizations, or if you join a PE, VC or consulting firm that evaluates and seeks to improve the go-to-market activities of such businesses. The course focuses on business-to-business (B2B) companies in a variety of settings. It builds on concepts introduced in RC Marketing, Strategy, and the Improving the Business Model module of TEM.

Educational Objectives

Business markets differ from consumer markets in important ways. Typically, the buying process is more complex, the buying units and purchase criteria differ, and marketing decisions are more closely interrelated with firm-wide strategic choices. In addition, personal selling and sales management are often core parts of go-to-market activities in B2B contexts. The course focuses on both the strategic and field implementation aspects of managing these issues in business markets. An important theme in both case discussions and field projects (see below) is linking strategy with sales in B2B markets.

Rather than our standard case exam, a key element of the course is a field project--either sourced by the student(s) or linked to projects sponsored by executives in our HBS Owner-President Management Program (OPM)-and a paper/presentation analyzing the situation and articulating the recommendations and learnings. Students will be organized in teams for the projects. The audience for this deliverable will be the relevant executives and your course peers as well as the instructor. Further, some of our class sessions (especially those dealing with the projects) may include the executive participants, who are an experienced and demanding group of successful entrepreneurs from various countries and industries. For these reasons, enrollment in the course is limited.

Course Content and Organization

The course is a combination of case-study discussions, lectures, and field-based project working sessions. After a brief introductory module, we begin with very tactical, seemingly "simple" issues in selling and sales management and then move to wider product, service and strategic issues inherent in most B2B markets. Sessions are also set aside for project work and feedback. The core course modules are:

  1. 1. Managing the Boundary I: Selling, Sales Management, and Account Management
  2. 2. Managing the Boundary II: Channel Development and Channel Management
  3. 3. Products and Customers: Analyzing Buying Behavior and Value Propositions
  4. 4. Aligning Strategy, Marketing, and Sales: Challenges, Guidelines, and Field Projects