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Career Story: Sales Amanger For A Large Seafood Harvesting Company

Sales Amanger For A Large Seafood Harvesting Company

Job Title: Sales Manager

Type of Company: My company is the largest harvester and processor of seafood in North America, handling over 200 million pound of product per year.

Education: BS in Business Management, Northeastern University. MBA candidate, Boston University

Previous Experience: I worked as Purchasing Manager for a seafood distribution company before moving to sales

Job Tasks: Here's a list of what I do as a sales manager:

  • Maintain contact with vessels to determine product mix (species being caught) and landing schedules
  • Maintain daily contact with processing plants to assess production capabilities and shipping schedules.
  • Work with product managers to review inventory positions, forecast production requirements and plan product mix. Review and adjust product specifications. Evaluate product costings.
  • Use government reporting agencies to observe market prices and volume trends of the four major daily seafood auctions on the East Coast.
  • Contact customers to report on availability of product, negotiate selling prices and determine needs. Work out promotion schedules for retail (supermarket) ads.
  • Prospect for new customers.
  • Communicate with commodity traders to determine current market information for different catagories of products.
  • Work with perishable warehouses, logistics department and shipping companies to track product movement.

An average day would start early (6 AM) with calls and faxes to warehouses to confirm arrival of the fresh seafood products. I send completed warehouse release forms with shipping instructions to both the cold storage facility and the trucking companies for advanced orders. Then the selling begins. I speculate on products and carry inventories which I offer to processors and distributors from Portland, Maine to Miami.

I try to get projections for what the customers will need 7 to 10 days out, and I put together a forecast for my processing plant. As more information becomes available I fine tune these orders. Once the fresh product is looked after, I look to the frozen product line and work sales to a different group of customers.

With information from the product managers regarding seasonal availability, timing and inventory positions I negotiate with customers and try to develop sales programs that will produce steady levels of sales. I bring market information back to the product managers, and if the commodity market prices are different than my company's, I try to negotiate with them to get our prices in line.

I also work with field sales people to help them develop fresh seafood customers. I travel as required for customer visits (six weeks per year) and to Canada for plant visits and sales meetings (two weeks per year).

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is dealing with customers and colleagues for many years, and developing friendships that allow us to conduct business in a friendly, relaxed manner.

I enjoy working with the production plant personel, as I understand what is important to them, and I use that to get them to perform to fulfill my customer's needs.

The worst part of the job is the pressure to continually increase your sales. Your performance is very easy to quantify, and if you're not producing it is very apparent and can effect your compensation and your job security.

Job Tips:
1. The most sucessful salespeople are driven by their desire to succeed and reap the compensation rewards that come with superior performance. This is not a field where being laid back is a virtue. Individuals need to be aggressive, good negotiators, always looking for an angle that can produce results.

2. You must be able to handle difficult people, as there are always customers that you have to deal with, but would rather not. I always go by the rule "you can say anything to anybody...after you hang up". Sales require sucking it up sometimes for the sake of coming out with the order. You can't let pride get in your way, and this is impossible for some people to handle.

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