Personal Selling and Sales Force Management - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Personal Selling and Sales Force Management

Course Number 1935

Assistant Professor Doug J. Chung
Spring; Q3; 1.5 credits
14 sessions

Career Focus

Students should take this course if they expect to join or start a business where the primary form of go-to-market activity involves personal selling-that is, the use of a sales force. Students who expect to undertake a leadership role in the management of salespeople will benefit by learning how to effectively motivate, evaluate, compensate and, thus, manage them.

Educational Objectives

Personal selling is the primary (and sometimes the only) form of marketing activity for many firms, especially in a business-to-business context. The course focuses on the tactical component of managing a salesforce and on the strategic element of linking sales force management with business strategy. The case studies used in the course will cover a variety of industries ranging from door-to-door selling to professional services firms (e.g., a law firm).

A key element of the course is a graded team project-either a field project sourced by the student(s) or a library project-that makes use of the content learned in the course to analyze a business situation and provide recommendations.

Course Content and Organization

The course will involve 13 case-study discussions and a final lecture. The course will begin by discussing the boundary roles of the salesperson and will move on to sales force management. During the case discussions, recruitment, selection, compensation, training, and evaluation are considered both separately and as a part of an integrated system, giving students a feel for how various approaches are chosen and applied in different types of organizations.