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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A profile of British Columbia sales managers Abbott, George Henry


The purpose of this thesis was to develop a profile of the typical British Columbia sales executive; his background, his present personal and business status, his duties and responsibilities, and his aspirations. The thesis also examines characteristics of the companies for which the sales managers worked. These characteristics include: the type of goods sold, size in terms of gross sales, growth prospects, and the standardization of certain procedures such as salesmen evaluation and job descriptions. Certain areas were developed to compare individual sales executive statistics and company statistics with a similar study undertaken in 1960. This identified changes which took place and trends which are developing. The investigation was essentially statistical and the data gathered was obtained through the use of an involved questionnaire. The questionnaire was mailed to sales executives of public companies which had sales offices in British Columbia. The cooperation of the respondents was most satisfactory and resulted in a questionnaire return of over 68 percent. The average sales executive of the study was 45 years old, and employed in a branch office of a consumer goods company whose aggregate sales were over $15,000,000. He was born in an urban area of well educated white collar parents. He is much better educated than the average Canadian. Although this thesis concludes that the level of formal education has very little bearing on level of income, it does establish that education is becoming a more important factor in the selection and promotion of sales executives. Average incomes were relatively high, averaging about $15,000 including bonuses and commissions. The vast majority of sales managers were married and had somewhat larger families than the Canadian average. They owned their homes and valued them well in excess of the British Columbia average. The study indicated a disproportionate increase in incomes of these sales managers as compared to the 1960 study. There are indications that there has been an upgrading of personnel which has consequently led to the higher income levels. The companies involved in this study posted a rapid rate of growth over the six year period. Sales volume expanded dramatically. The proportion of branch offices increased and over 20 percent of the branch office respondents were in positions created within the previous five years. Almost one half of the respondents were involved with the training of new salesmen. Less than one third of the companies maintained a formal programme for this function. Formal salesmen evaluation systems were standard procedure in slightly over one half of the companies, and job descriptions for sales managers and salesmen were the rule rather than the exception. The typical sales executive was involved in a wide range of activities but found directing the sales force, training salesmen, and personal selling the most time consuming as well as the most important of his responsibilities. He has a wider direct span of control than his 1960 counterpart but conversely has responsibility for fewer indirect and non-sales staff. Despite the higher than average educational level for the group as a whole, the average sales manager did not have a university education and began his career in his late teens. He has been quite stable in terms of inter-company changes as his experience has been largely gained with his present employer. All indications are that the typical sales manager has achieved his present position through promotions in the sales end of the business.

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