The drivers influencing the relationship between sales representatives and customers and the impact this relationship has on sales volume within Coca-Cola's Western Cape region

F. J. Herbst, C. L. Forrest
2008 South African Journal of Business Management  
Companies within the FMCG sector are continually trying to create value from their brands by increasing their margins and/or selling more of their products. Taking cost out of the value chain gives the company a competitive advantage, but this advantage is short lived as competitors also reduce costs. Differentiating a product through enhanced features and benefits also provides a competitive advantage, but is also subject to imitation by rivals. As competition increases, companies are looking
more » ... panies are looking for new avenues to differentiate themselves. Relationship marketing has, as a result, increased its prevalence as a competitive tool to provide that point of difference.This research investigated the factors that influence the relationships between a Coca-Cola sales representative and his/her customers within the Cape Town region.This article was developed after studying literature as it pertained to customer relationship marketing. From the literature the foundation blocks in developing buyer-seller relationships were studied. The research methodology tested the impact of certain factors on the ability to build a relationship between buyer and seller and then tested the validity of those answers using underlying determinants of a relationship. These determinants included the ability to communicate, the ability to trust, the degree of loyalty and the ability to influence a customer.The response to the questionnaires was extremely high (over 95%) and provided for a robust evaluation of data. The research showed that there was a positive correlation between the profile of a sales representative and a customer. It is easier for a sales representative to build a relationship with a customer who is a similar age. It is however easier for the sales representative to influence a younger customer. Gender plays no role in a sales representative's ability to build a relationship. With respect to education, a stronger relationship exists between a customer and sales representative of a similar education. Again it is easier for a representative to influence a customer who has a lower level of education. Race does have an impact on the ability to build relationships. The research showed that an African sales representative should service an African customer. There was a positive link between matching sales representatives and customers who come from similar areas and have the same religion. There was no correlation between the degree of the relationship that a Coca-Cola sales representative in the Western Cape region has with a customer and the sales growth within the outlets. This final conclusion must be read in the context of the relative high market share that the Coca-Cola Company has in the Western Cape.
doi:10.4102/sajbm.v39i1.554 fatcat:pphorffwdjfuveif7cy2aehq6y