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Foundations of Sales, Group D1

Course code
MKT201
Course type
BSc Course
Weekly Hours
2,0
ECTS
3.0
Term
FS 2024
Language
Englisch
Lecturers
Prof. Dr. Ove Jensen
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Part One: Foundations of Pricing

Week I: Setting and Getting Prices

·       Class Session 01: Introduction to Selling and Sales

·       Class Session 02: Bargaining Basics (includes Role-Play Porcelain, WHU)

·       Self-Study A: Basic Price-Quantity-Cost Calculations

Week II: Channel Pricing

·       Self-Study B: Channel System Basics

·       Class Session 03: Cost- vs. Value-Based Pricing Basics (includes case Soren Chemicals, HBS)

·       Class Session 04: Retail Pricing

Part Two: Foundations of Selling

Week III: Building Value Perceptions

·       Self-Study C: Presenting to Top Executives

·       Class Session 05: Sales Conversation Basics (includes video case)

·       Class Session 06: Sales Presentation Basics (includes student initiative cases)

Week IV: Building Customer Relationships

·       Self-Study D: Organizational Buying Basics

·       Class Session 07: Opportunity Management (includes case Boise Automation, Ivey)

·       Class Session 08: Networking and Key Account Management (includes case Heidi Roizen, HBS)

Part Three: Foundations of Sales Force Management

Week V: Classic Field Sales Management Challenges

·       Self-Study E: Sales Force Sizing Basics

·       Class Session 09: Basic Sales Incentives (includes case Roush Performance, HBS)

·       Class Session 10: Territory Management (includes case StepSmart Fitness, HBS)

Week VI: Contemporary Inside Sales Management Challenges

·       Self-Study F: CRM System Basics

·       Class Session 11: Funnel Management (includes case ZenRecruit, HBS)

·       Class Session 12: Future of Sales (includes case Hubspot and Motion AI: Chatbot-Enabled CRM, HBS)

Date Time
Tuesday, 09.01.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Tuesday, 16.01.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Monday, 22.01.2024 11:30 - 15:15
Tuesday, 30.01.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Tuesday, 06.02.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Tuesday, 13.02.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Monday, 22.04.2024 09:00 - 12:00
Nothing moves in the economy unless somebody sells something and someone else buys it. This simple truth extends to materials, capital, labor - anything. Studying business without a course in sales is like studying engineering without physics, medicine without anatomy, or law without a court session. Selling is at the heart of the business. More people work in sales than in production. One of eight jobs in our society is a sales job – and this does not count the part-time sales work of managing directors who spend much of their time with customers. Even if selling is not your job title, "the only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you're a salesman, and you don't know that" (Arthur Miller). Every entrepreneur sells all the time: to customers, suppliers, employees, and investors.

Any business model has two sides: operations and sales. The operations side is traditionally transparent and over-managed, whereas the sales side is intransparent and undermanaged. This course introduces critical aspects of managing sales performance.

To manage sales means managing the peoplewho make sales, i.e., those who talk to customers, communicate innovations, negotiate prices, and obtain signatures under a contract: the sales force. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), an entrepreneur in the 19th century, emphasized the significance of salespeople by claiming: "You can take away my money and take away my factories, but leave me my sales staff – and I'll be back where I was in two years." The sales force is the No. 1 revenue driver and a significant cost driver. The average firm spends 10% of its revenues on the sales force. The overall amount spent on sales forces is three times the combined spending on advertising. Sales and service are often the largest functions in the firm. Most country subsidiaries of multinational enterprises are essentially sales organizations. Consequently, leading a firm requires learning to lead the sales force.

Students considering a corporate career should consider starting their career with a few years in sales. In sales, you learn to view the business through the skeptical eyes of customers and salespeople. It is not by coincidence that brand management tracks in companies such as Procter & Gamble or L'Oréal commence with a mandatory stage in sales. Sales is a career booster on your resume. Whereas the public image of sales is negative, business insiders value sales highly. TV mockery of B2C salespeople taints the public image of selling – think of ruthless used-car sales clerks or slick door-to-door salespeople of books, brushes, or vacuum cleaners. However, in B2B, selling is not about extrovert show-stars who talk a customer into buying. Firms are looking for a new generation of key account managers with the analytical skills of a strategy consultant who can meet the customer's top managers eye-to-eye. In other words, they are looking for WHU students as key account managers.

Students who like consulting should consider a career as a consultative seller. Consulting skills are essential to sellers, and selling skills are vital to consultants. The competence requirements are more similar than most students expect: In a strategy consulting firm, you don't become a partner as the best advisor but as the best project seller. In sales, you don't win projects only by being a nice guy but by adding value to the client's strategic agenda as an advisor. By the way, the pay level in sales is more than comparable to consulting: The best-paid people in any firm are the top salespeople. But the best-kept secret is: Whereas consultants spend their early career in stifling meeting rooms in the German province, a B2B sales career offers more international travel, includes more wining and dining in exciting places, and leaves more personal freedom.

Students who consider the entrepreneurial path will soon realize that entrepreneurship revolves around selling. You collect capital by pitching your business idea to investors (In fact, some investors will only invest when the founders themselves are the first salespeople). You grow your business by selling products and services to customers. You hire talent by selling your company culture to candidates. You get suppliers by selling your reliability as a business partner. You exit by selling your customer base and technology to other firms. Entrepreneurship requires the two traditional competence areas of commerce: 1) accounting/finance and 2) sales/marketing. As a future entrepreneur, you cannot go wrong by specializing in these two areas during your BSc and MSc studies.

Selling is a set of skills that one can learn. Only a few people are born a selling ace. WHU is the only German university with a mandatory Bachelor's course in sales. Most university curricula neglect sales or treat sales as a part of marketing. However, far more people work in sales than in marketing in the business world. In B2B, Sales is the dominant function, and Marketing is often a part of Sales. In B2C, Sales and Marketing are equally powerful.

The course intends to enhance five categories of competencies:

·       factual knowledge, for example, applying salespeople jargon to discussing the status of a sale (such as the buying center, red flags, mentor, RFQ, gatekeepers), negotiation jargon to discussing the status of negotiation (such as BATNA, ZOPA, walk-away price, non-offer offer), sales management jargon (such as quota, forecast, pipeline, DSM, and other idioms), and understanding the specific terminology of sales management in a different sales contexts, such as selling to distributors, selling to large enterprises, B2B2C, and industrial selling,

·       conceptual knowledge, for example, explaining the evolution of retailing, analyzing the composition of a buying center, analyzing sales pipelines and generating sales forecasts, calculating price-trade-offs against other profit drivers, analyzing economic value to customers, and mapping the structure of personal networks,

·       sales-specific procedural knowledge, for example, applying a structured negotiation blueprint, evaluating the win probability of a sales opportunity, evaluating the needs of a customer through questions, and creating professional selling documents,

·       general business-relevant procedural knowledge, for example, preparing for business meetings, making the best out of a limited preparation time budget, making concise contributions to discussions, and constructively building on arguments by other participants,

·       metacognitive knowledge, for example, evaluating one's selling behavior and observing the power of deep reflection and undistracted mindfulness.

There is no required textbook. I have not found a book covering all the topics discussed in this course. The learning material for this course includes presentation slides, articles, case studies, role-plays, videos, whiteboard notes, and practice quizzes. These and other course-related information are available on the learning management system Moodle.
The course score wholly rests on individual, written performance. There are no team scores, peer evaluations, or oral participation scores. The maximum score is 90 points. The score is composed as follows:

·       33.33% (30 points) rest on case preparation quizzes. They are due for BSc 2026 students the day before a class session, starting Week II. Note: These graded case quizzes are not the same as the ungraded practice quizzes mentioned below.

·       66.67% (60 points) rest on a 60-minute final exam. It is a proctored, bring-your-own-device, laptop-based quiz with numerical, multiple-choice, sorting, and matching questions. There are no open or case-related questions. Each student gets a randomized set of numbers and a shuffled sequence of questions. Participants receive practice quizzes and mock exams to prepare. Note: These ungraded practice quizzes are not the same as the graded case quizzes mentioned above.

The final exam is at the end of the semester, typically the last week of April. For BSc 2026 students, it is part of the 135-minute module exam Foundations of Marketing and Sales. You can freely switch between Professor Jensen's and Professor Schlereth's questions. Exchange students leave after 60 minutes unless they take both courses.

The module exam is open-book; you may bring any printed or handwritten paper, but no digital resources are allowed. The proctoring software prevents opening windows besides the assessment tool. The only other electronic device permitted is a non-programmable calculator.

The module exam states all instructions, questions, and multiple-choice answers in English. Students in tracks BBP and E must answer Professor Schlereth's open questions in English. Students in tracks D1+D2 can answer in English or German but must stick to their chosen language throughout the exam.

If you are ill on the day of the final exam or fail the module, you shall make up missed and retake failed exams at the earliest possible date, according to §8(6) of the exam regulations. The make-up and retake exams are before the start of the fall semester, typically the last week of August. Do not schedule internships or vacations in those weeks.

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