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Harvard Business School

Managing Sales Teams and Distribution Channels

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Next dates

Aug 4—7
4 days
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
USD 10000
USD 2500 per day


As digital technology continues to open up new distribution channels, customer demands—and sales strategies—are rapidly evolving. With multichannel networks becoming the norm, leaders must design a go-to-market strategy that sells the right products at the right time through the right combination of channels. In this hands-on program, you will improve your ability to optimize sales outcomes by developing and managing a high-performance multichannel network and sales force.

Key Benefits

Sales leaders must understand when to sell directly to a customer, to a retailer, to a customer through a distributor, or to a wholesaler that supplies a retailer. This sales management program explores effective strategies for analyzing different route-to-market options, managing multiple channels, strengthening sales teams, and adapting to changing market dynamics. You will return to your company ready to implement an action plan that sets up your distribution channels—and your sales teams—to drive revenue and long-term success.


Design and lead a go-to-market system that meets your goals

  • Focus your customer strategy
  • Analyze and select from different route-to-market options
  • Design and manage a multichannel network
  • Minimize tensions between channels

Build the capabilities needed to execute your go-to-market strategy

  • Improve sales team management by effectively recruiting, compensating, and motivating your sales force
  • Build strong relationships with distribution partners
  • Harness data and technology to optimize your strategy

Expand your personal and professional network

  • Extend your network by living and working with accomplished executives from various backgrounds, industries, and countries across the globe
  • Build relationships with a diverse group of peers who can provide wide-ranging insights into your business challenges and career decisions

What You Will Learn

Through a rich learning experience that includes faculty presentations, case studies, small group discussions, simulations, and other exercises, you will explore key issues in distribution channel design, sales team management, multichannel management, and emerging channels. You will practice mapping customer flows, reviewing channel options, designing better distribution channels, and converting data insights into practical plans of action.

At the end of each day, you and your peers will divide into small groups to discuss key takeaways from the cases and how they directly apply to your respective organizations

Key Areas

Serving customers and creating value

  • Understand your customers' diverse points of view
  • Decide which demographics you are best positioned to serve
  • Build strategies for expanding your market reach

Designing and implementing a winning go-to-market strategy

  • Shape your go-to-market strategy through "channel stewardship"
  • Develop an overarching strategy that guides the activities of the entire channel
  • Align your channel value chain to coordinate your partners' efforts and manage conflicts
  • Balance customers' needs with your distribution channel's capabilities
  • Optimize your route-to-market so that it best serves your customers and company
  • Determine marketing and distribution strategies for new products
  • Address channel conflicts and management issues in mature product categories

Improving sales-force management

  • Learn how to recruit, structure, and compensate your sales force for the best outcomes
  • Diagnose and solve underperformance issues
  • Develop a system for evaluating and training employees
  • Understand how different compensation programs impact employees' motivation, productivity, behavior, and performance
  • Consider different strategies for pricing products and motivating sales teams

Leveraging data and technology

  • Explore how robotics, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things impact sales strategies
  • Use data and intelligence to determine your strategic approach
  • Employ technology to better design, monitor, and manage your sales and distribution channels

Who should attend

  • Executives directly or indirectly responsible for their organization's go-to-market strategy or sales-force activities
  • Particularly appropriate for: Sales and channel leaders from midsize and large corporations, such as vice presidents of sales, marketing, or distribution; regional sales managers; channel managers; key accounts managers; and human resources managers

Attendance by multiple company representatives will foster teamwork and amplify the program's impact.


Kash Rangan is the Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing at the Harvard Business School. Formerly the chairman of the Marketing Department (1998-2002), he is now the co-chairman of the school''s Social Enterprise Initiative. He has taught in a wide variety of MBA courses, including the core Fi...
Doug J. Chung is the MBA Class of 1962 Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing unit at Harvard Business School. He teaches Sales & Sales Force Management and Business-to-Business Marketing in the second year MBA Elective Curriculum. He also teaches Marketing Models in ...
Donald Ngwe is an assistant professor in the Marketing Unit. He teaches the Marketing course in the MBA required curriculum. Professor Ngwe directs his research at measuring consumer responses to online and offline retailing strategies and predicting the performance of pricing and product asso...


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