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

Personal Selling and Sales Force Management

Course Number 1935

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

Career Focus

Students should take this course if they expect to join an organization (for-profit or nonprofit) where the primary form of go-to-market activity involves personal selling-that is, the use of a sales force to conduct face-to-face selling. Students who expect to undertake a leadership role in the management of salespeople will benefit from this course by learning how to effectively motivate, evaluate, compensate and, therefore, manage them.
Many industries- including but not limited to management consulting, investment banking, private equity, technology, retailing, healthcare, B2B-execute with personal selling and this course will provide the fundamental tools to properly implement as well as mange the people who implements sales.

Educational Objectives

Personal selling is the primary (and sometimes the only) form of go-to-market activity for many firms, especially in a business-to-business context. This course focuses mostly on the tactical components of selling and managing a salesforce-that is, how to actually sell and how to realistically manage salespeople. This course will provide the basic frameworks of sales and sales force management. Also, this course will cover the strategic element of linking the sales strategy with the firm’s overall strategy.

The case studies used in the course will cover a variety of industries including door-to-door, B2B software, professional services (e.g., a law firm), medical equipment, retail electronics, software-as-a-service, and heavy industries.

Course Content and Organization

The course will begin with a module on personal selling which includes sales tactics (and sales force management) in B2B software, direct sales in emerging markets, sales of professional services; and one or two lectures on personal selling techniques.

The course will then move into a module on sales force compensation, the primary form of motivating salespeople to exert greater effort. The contents of this module focus on how to use various different components (e.g., salary, commission, bonus, quota, overachievement, etc.) of compensation to effectively motivate salespeople.
Next, the course will cover additional topics in sales such as the use of inside sales and key account management.
The course will end with a capstone module that links sales force management and sales strategy with the overall strategy of the firm.

Grades will be composed of 50% participation and 50% a final exam. The final exam will be a case analysis with regard to contents learned in class.