Developing a Sales Partner Screening Instrument – Findings from a Project with the Austrian Medical Devices Industry
C. Stadlmann - Developing a Sales Partner Screening Instrument – Findings from a Project with the Austrian Medical Devices Industry - Proceedings Conference Day 2010, Steyr, Austria, 2010, pp. 179-183
Sales departments often have difficulties in assessing the performance of existing and potential sales partners beyond using sales figures. However, the evaluation of these partners is crucial for the selection of the right intermediaries in international business especially when B2B manufacturers base their cooperation on long-term exclusiveness. Hence, the department of Global Sales Management started a project with the Austrian medical devices industry aiming to develop a screening instrument of sales partners. The project indicated that sales people tended to identify recent events of their operative work stronger in their evaluations of sales partners. This bias usually leads to an incomplete picture of the business performance of their intermediaries. Within the project the methodology of semi-structured qualitative interviews also using the critical incidents technique was combined with a peer network approach for clarification and refinement. This course of action led to comprehensively assessed but succinct screening instruments with individual parameters and performance levels. The project partners identified that the screening instrument can be used for different purposes, i.e. selection of new partners, training of sales recruits, benchmarking of intermediaries or identification of starting points for corrective measures in existing partnerships. Above companies can utilize the instrument for agreeing upon targets in appraisal interviews with their own area sales managers and for explaining their expectations and requirements to their intermediaries. It can be stated that the development of screening instruments supported the project companies to objectify their performance measurement of sales partners. The impact of the use of this instrument on the evaluation and selection of appropriate intermediaries should therefore, not be neglected. The author suggests gaining further experience with the screening instrument and applying the methodology to other sectors, too. Finally, two research requirements can be identified – firstly new techniques and instruments in examining the motivation of potential new sales partners and secondly processes and strategies concerning how existing partnerships can be determined whilst securing obtained market share.