Line Sales Organization Structure: Advantages and Disadvantages

Line Sales Organization Structure

The main characteristics of a pure-line sales organizational structure are as follows:

  1. The line sales organization is the oldest, simplest, and most basic of all the sales organizational structures.

  2. It is widely used in firms that are smaller in size or with small numbers of selling personnel or cover a limited geographic area or sell a narrow product line.

  3. The chain of command and lines of authority run vertically down through the structure.

  4. All executives have line authority over their subordinates who in turn are accountable only to their immediate superior.

  5. This is the reason for calling this organization a scalar organization which means the scalar chain of command is a part and parcel of this type of administrative organization.

  6. Responsibility is definitely fixed, and those charged with it also make decisions and take action.

  7. Theoretically, there is no cross-communication between persons on the same level.

  8. Contacts between persons on the same level are indirect and are affected through the next higher level.

  9. Since lines of authority run vertically in this structure, executives at each level are generally independent of all others at the same level.

  10. The line sales organization sees its greatest use in companies where all sales personnel report directly to the chief sales executive.

  11. In these companies, this executive often is preoccupied with active supervision and seldom has much time to devote to planning or working with other top executives.

  12. Specialized and supportive services do not take place in these organizations.

  13. Unified control by the line officers can be maintained since they can independently take decisions in their areas and spheres.

  14. In this type of organization, the line of command flows on an even basis, bringing efficiency in communication and resulting in coordination and stability to a concern.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Line Sales Organization

The following are points of advantages and disadvantages of line sales organization:

S.No.Advantages of Line Sales OrganizationDisadvantages of Line Sales Organization
1.Lines of authority and responsibility are fixed, logical and clearly delineatedIt places great demands on the time and abilities of the top sales executive.
2.Difficult for individuals to shift or evade responsibilities.With all the field reporting finally coming to him/her through his/her subordinates/area sales manager, most of the time would be taken up by the task of sales supervision and direction leaving him/ her with little time for planning and policy-making.
3.Definite placement of authority and responsibility saves time in making policy changes, in deciding new plans, and in converting plans into action. Decisions are made rapidly and communicated quickly.The chief executive is sometimes forced to take decisions on issues without adequate planning which yields unsatisfactory results.
4.Executives who come up through a line organization are frequently strong leaders.As the line organization has no support from subordinates who have specialized knowledge skills, the top sales executive needs to be a person with outstanding ability and all-around knowledge of every facet of the sales function.
5.As the typical line sales department has few organizational levels, administrative expenses are low.Since everyone is a jack-of-all-trades; lack of specialization can hinder the firm’s growth.
The control is unified and concentrates on one person and therefore, decisions can be taken independently, thus, discipline and control are better.In this type of organization, the key people are difficult to replace.
Simplicity makes it easy for executives to develop close relations with salespersons.Line organization becomes inappropriate in case of rapidly growing organizations or those with large sales staffs, as growing departments necessitate additional layers of executives to be added.
There is unity of command as the superior-subordinate relationship is maintained and a scalar chain of command flows from top to bottom.Sound organizational practice dictates that trained understudies be ready to step into the shoes of their superiors. But more often than not, chief sale executive in line sales organizations fail to groom their own replacements.
There is a coordination between the topmost authority and bottom-line authority.Offers little opportunity for subordinates to acquire management skills
Since the authority relationships are clear, line officials are independent and can flexibly take the decision. This flexibility gives satisfaction to line executives.
Salespeople tend to feel they make a major individual contribution to the firm.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Line Sales Organization

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