One of the key components of a firm’s strategy is how to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. The role and importance of the salesperson in the distribution channel and salesperson access to the customer as a means of achieving competitive advantage is examined. Two direct selling firms who use or have used salespeople as their primary means of selling products are compared. Overall, 242 Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc. (MK) and 200 Fuller Brush Company (FB) sales representatives were surveyed. A total of 118 MK and 92 FB surveys were returned. Findings indicate that direct selling provides a competitive advantage when the salesperson helps customers try the product. Pushy salespeople, products that are not available and other problems may become competitive disadvantages. The product itself is an important part of the repeat purchase process but the salesperson is necessary because of access to the market.

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