Sales and distribution management as a composite function of marketing, focuses on development of sound sales and distribution strategy, the management of marketing channels, and sales force management in a business organization. Rapid changes in the technology, a higher level of customer orientation the globalization of business, and increasing competition have made sales and distribution management critical for the success of any business enterprise.
Traditionally, the key challenge to the marketer was to develop methods and practices to enhance the productivity and efficiency of the sales force. The focus was on the individual's performance rather than on the processes involved into a key area of marketing expertise and knowledge. Today, the marketer faces the challenge of formulating strategies and methods for improving the selling approach, which include sales force downsizing, the application of information technology, the enhanced use of telemarketing, key accounting management,use of independent sales organizations and sales representatives, electronic data interchange, and cross functional team selling.
The business environment in India is very different from that in developed countries. In the pre- liberalization era for example, significant restriction on consumer goods in the form of licenses and high import tariff discouraged manufacturers from investing in a wide range of industrial and consumer goods. In the absence of a wider range of products, marketers earlier found it difficult to exploit the benefits of economies of scale in sourcing of goods.
As a result of economic liberalization in the 1990s, there was a spurt in consumer demand. Further, the growth in income levels also generated a demand for high quality and expensive products. Many business organization responded to these developments by expanding their sales and distribution operations in the Indian market.
In India, the industry structure of sales and distribution is characterized by the presence of a large number of channel intermediaries. While wholesale trading dominates the distribution sector, personal selling is largely the norm in sales organizations. Organized retailing and franchising as innovative modes of selling have also witnessed growth in the recent years with foreign and Indian retail majors becoming active in the market.