Re-sharpening the customer focus in B2B markets: understanding selling as “marketing in action”

3rd September 2016 |   Roger Brooksbank

In today’s ultra-competitive markets it is imperative that salespeople work to continuously sharpen their customer focus.
By comparing the new model of personal selling with the marketing process, this article provides an agenda for helping to make it happen.


Despite the rise of online selling, in many markets – especially B2B – personal selling remains a critical component of marketing success. Yet while marketing educators continue to concentrate attention on prescribing a customer-focused approach to the design and application of various online selling initiatives, comparatively little has been said about how this ethos translates across to the personal selling process. Hence, with the aim of creating an agenda for inspiring salespeople to resharpen their customer focus, this article presents an understanding of the personal selling process as “marketing in action”.

New versus old: customer-oriented versus sales-oriented personal selling

Figure 1 depicts a simplified version of the three key phases of a sale. At first sight there is nothing radically different about the new model of the personal selling process. The main phases or “skill areas”of the sale, and the key selling principles that the process incorporates, remain more or less unchanged from years gone by. Nor is it likely that the fundamentals will change anytime soon; as human nature remains constant, so too will the basic ingredients of the art of personal selling.

Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Waikato | + posts

Roger Brooksbank BA, MBA, Dip M, PhD is currently Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, with previous experience as a sales executive, sales manager, sales and marketing manager, marketing director and business owner. His research interests lie in all aspects of strategic marketing and business competitiveness and he is the author or co-author of over 200 publications in these areas, including six books. He has also acted as an independent marketing consultant, seminar leader, conference speaker or sales trainer to more than 90 clients throughout Europe and Australasia in both the private and public sectors. In his role as a professional educator, Roger has taught a variety of marketing courses at all levels and he is a recipient of his School’s Outstanding Teaching Award.