Khairat Nakheel Taiba


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Over the past five decades, various changes in the field of date production, harvesting, processing, packaging, and marketing have occurred. One of the major striking trends in the date producing industry is that under the influence of the newly developed oil capital in the date producing nations, the cultivation of date, processing, and packaging could be rationalized. However, following the increase in oil wealth, the consumption of dates as a staple crop has reduced significantly. The great conservative nature and close correlation amid date farmers and their crop has certainly played a significant role in averting the decline in the cultivation and production of dates. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that are considered important when it comes to the production of dates. Indeed, the kingdom has the potential to produce large quantities of quality dates that could heighten their export capital. Date production holds a central place in the Saudi Arabian economic structure on both the national and local level. Indeed, this is attributable to the vigorous input production of dates in the economic arena. The date production increases the exports of this Kingdom in general and helps in fulfilling the prerequisites of the local marketplace (Al-Shreed and M. Al-Jamal. 2012). This chapter explores the current trends in the Saudi Arabian date industry and the determinants of the competitive advantage. It also explores the internal and external obstacles of date exports and the manner in which the companies can increase the productivity and profitability of the produce through motivating sales agents and setting goals. In addition, the aspect of improving the lead generation and implementing customer retention strategies can help in improving the sales force.

Current Trends in the Date Industry


Saudi Arabia is considered one of the countries that produce large amounts of dates for export. The average production was estimated at around 944 tons, which was nearly 13.7% of the total production of date in the world in 2011. Despite the superior quality and economic importance of Saudi Arabia’s dates, their display in the worldwide market is very low and does not equate its amount of production. Only 4.63% of dates produced in this Kingdom are exported. From the year 2000 to 2011, Saudi dates accounted for 7% of the entire world date export according to a report produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2015). The trend of Saudi date export has not been stable. In 2000, Saudi exported 28.3 tons of dates valued at 18 million dollars. The amounts had nearly doubled by the year 2005, with 51.1 tons valued at 32.5million dollars being exported. However, the quantity decreased to 1.6 tons by 2009, which at the same time was valued at 1.7 million. The quantities increased drastically in the ensuing years that saw the amount of dates exported in 2011 to be valued at 86.3 million. In the past few years, Saudi augmented its operational activities in the global markets. Its effectual operations and its capacity to acquire information regarding the global markets while complying with the universal criterion makes the quality and worth of Saudi’s date export remarkable in the international marketplace, which is characterized by inconsistencies.

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Determinant of Competitive Advantage

Gawad et al. (2014) conducted a study that was aimed at understanding the contemporary state of date production in Saudi and the manner in which they influence the local as well as the global markets. They utilized the Porter concept in analyzing the variable demand conditions, related markets, and factors conditions. Other rival countries for Saudi date export, including Iraq, Egypt, and Tunisia were selected. The study indicated that the determinants of economic advantage were significant in all countries apart from Egypt. According the Porter model, there are four determinants of a nation’s competitive advantage, including company strategy, construction and competitors, related industries, and demand conditions, as well as factor conditions, which comprise land, labor force, and resources (Gawad et al. 2014).

Saudi Date Export Demands

It is worth noting that Saudi is the second main producing nation for dates in the world with around 15% supply capability. A study by Ali et al. (2014) that was aimed at analyzing the situation of exported dates from Saudi and its market share within the international market was carried out. The study evaluated the universal geographical distribution of date international trade from Saudi, the pliability of export changeover, and the Saudi date marketplace share. The research revealed that the price elasticity of Saudi dates was slightly above one in India, Pakistan, Germany, and America, except Yemen, Turkey, and Jordan. Therefore, the trend indicated that it was difficult for Saudi to increase the prices of dates in these nations since augmented prices would encourage other countries to substitute the supply in the respective nations. However, the authors indicated that Saudi could lower the export cost by around ten percent in these four nations to increase the quantity demand, which would rise to around 32%. Indeed, it indicates that for Saudi to explore the heights of date export, lowering the export prices is essential.

Of all the seven nations that were studied, Jordan market indicated the utmost price elasticity. A ratio of 10% decrease can increase the Saudi Arabian date export to the Jordan marketplace over the rival by 10.1%. Therefore, this means that if Saudi decreases its prices by one percent of the price ratio of dates from Saudi, then the other rivals will increase their export to the specific country, which will cause an increase of nearly one percent of Saudi dates share in Jordan marketplace. In fact, this study alluded that there could be a low rate of competition of dates exported from Saudi in the seven countries that were studied. Additionally, it is apparent that dates from Saudi do not face a stiff competition with regard to price sensitivity in almost all the studied countries.

Obstacles to Exporting Dates from Saudi

Despite the strategic significance of dates and the legislative support given to their growth and industrial development, their production has not been supported by the private sector. Indeed, the growth and development of the production and industrialization of dates fail to match the strategic and high ranking approach that most date producing countries employ, resulting from the inclination of private businesspersons and investors capitalizing on other fields that appear to be faster and more profitable (Al-Shreed and Al-Jamal. 2012). Although the government is interested in developing date production to make it another source of revenue besides oil, there are various obstacles that are hindering this development.

Internal Export Obstacles

The use of traditional marketing system is one of the obstacles that face the field of exporting dates in Saudi. Farmers cultivating small sizes of farms and trees that are more than 30 years characterize this marketing system. Under this system, the process of sorting and grading dates is done in two distinct ways, including human and animal consumption. The main problem of the traditional marketing system is that dates obtained are either unstandardized or ungraded, which is a factor that increases the cost of factory production, leading to higher pricing of the products. In addition, the raw materials for packaging dates are not locally available. They are imported from Italy and China, which represents the high costs of packaging and the dependence of Saudi Arabian dates production on foreign raw material, making the pricing to be relatively high in the global markets. In fact, this issue can only be solved if the Kingdom of Saudi constructs local industries that manufacture raw materials for date packaging.

Exporters from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia lack vital information regarding the rules, regulations, and the general data about the international date markets. Although Saudi exporters participate in agricultural exhibitions held in all parts of the world, their engagement has been shown to be inadequate, which is a factor that causes little creation of Saudi date awareness. In fact, if Saudi has been actively involved in agricultural and trade fair exhibitions, individuals from their targeted markets would be equipped with the knowledge on the nutritional value and health benefits of date consumption (Hakkak and Moazezi, 2016). It would also increase the awareness of Saudi exporters concerning the export processes, including the transfer, shipping quality and costs, which are at the expense of the exporter.

Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is strategically located, the exportation costs of dates are higher compared to other countries that export the same product such as Tunisia and Egypt. Crick et al. (1998) indicate that the bureaucratic export rules in the country and the lack of special terminals in the nation’s port continue to worsen the situation. Additionally, Saudi Arabian date exporters suffer from the lack of insurance companies and banks that are willing to cover the exportation risks and finance their trade activities.

External Aspects

Several aspects hinder the smooth exportation of dates in the international markets, including the elevated custom duty in the target countries. In addition, the fact that Saudi dates are exported in bulk and lack convenient system of exportation causes significant drawbacks, especially on the quality of the products. Divergences in date standardization and the stiff rivalry in the international markets arena, as well as the constant changes in the foreign exchanges realm, are other important obstacles that hinder the smooth exportation of Saudi dates. Indeed, exporters of dates from this country encounter a wide range of obstacles ranging from organizational and financial impediments to insurance, production, and marketing hindrances.

Setting Goals for Sales People

Any company with the intentions of reaping the best out of their sales practices ought to ensure that agents meet their regular quotas. In fact, this can only be possible if they have an active and motivated sales performance management. Indeed, a motivated sales performance management would present Saudi date producers with a crucial element that would quantify their metrics and sales results. Skills in sales and behavior, as well as motivation, are essential elements for unique and effective sales performance. Supervisors in the date companies can help in setting practicable goals for their sales agents while ensuring that they are moving enough products that will enable the companies to maintain and increase their revenue.

Chakrabarti et al. (2014) performed a study that to measure the effect of goal positioning and its impact on behaviors in the workplace of transnational sales agents located in the Middle East. It is worth noting that the United Arab Emirates has been positioned as the third largest country in re-export of products and as a host of worldwide organizations, which gives it a potential of becoming the world leading interchange center. The study mainly focused on the emerging context of the Middle East, and Dubai in particular, through evaluating the behaviors of the worldwide sales agents that operate within this region. In order to understand why the Middle East International sales agents were selected for this study, it is imperative to explain the research background of this region. Indeed, little attention has been given in examining the global sales agents working in this region that is characterized by rapidly emerging economies. International sales agents provide numerous advantages to the regions they operate, and the Middle East is not an exception. Not only do they offer the current data regarding the marketplace, but they also provide powerful linkages and service support. Therefore, many companies have employed universal sales agents who make a suitable case study for this research due to the distance and culture as well as the difficulties they face regarding providing appropriate support.

The study found that the global sales agents should formulate their conduct and attitudinal decisions in the Middle East social milieu and society as a whole. In fact, even the Middle East native sales agents have a tendency to assume the Western behavior and practice in the organizational operations. In addition, the authors found that feedback is a crucial element of sales performance for intermediaries engaging in business in this region. It was also evident that giving positive feedback assisted in motivating the sales agents as compared to negative feedback. Indeed, working harder was linked to positive feedback as opposed to performance orientation. Therefore, this study showed that hard work, per se, does not sufficiently motivate international sales agents working in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE. However, other factors such as positive feedback and goal orientation play a significant role.

Another study conducted by Zarim et al. (2016) explored the aspects that contribute to motivation among employees of a telecommunication company. The research indicated that the rewards of a fiscal nature, a favorable working atmosphere, and employment or job security were important drivers of motivation. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that increasing employee opportunity in their working environments is essential for augmenting their motivation at work. Under normal circumstances, the individuals who are motivated at the working place tend to be self-motivated, which is an aspect that increases their job performances and as a result influence the profitability of an organization. Highly motivated employees also have a strong will and determination to attain, succeed in their operations, to learn and to put into practice what they have learned. The study suggested that for organizations to promote their employee motivation and performances, they should improve their wages, job security, bonuses, and commission payouts as well as the working environments of employees.

According to Rogers (2011), the entitled Sales Management Compensation, sales supervisors, or managers need to do exactly what their job title designates, which is to manage individuals in the sales field. In fact, the field of sales management necessitates that managers’ focus on the realistic applications of techniques that involve sales while at the same time managing the organizations’ sale operative procedures. In other words, sales management refers to the process of mounting a sales force, organizing and coordinating the sales operations, and ensuring the implementation of the techniques used in sales to attain and even surpass its targets. However, it is astonishing that various companies have their sales managers also doing the sales operations, with their reimbursements being heavily depended on their sales commissions as opposed to their salary. The one thing that such companies fail to understand is the fact that these managers will spend ample time doing sales instead of motivating their team to make it stronger and more successful. Therefore, rather than the sales managers making their teams stronger and improving them, they will be busy competing with their teams. Companies with the intentions of exploring the heights of their sales ought to compensate their managers with competitive remunerations while offering a regular bonus that is based on the performances of their sales team.

Sales Force Performance Management

According to Arndt, Karande, and Harkins (2012), the performance of other functions has a direct effect on the salespersons’ conflicts because the interrelated tasks create a conflict of interest and credit. In a study aimed at determining the relationship between servicers and cross-sellers, the authors investigated the possible role of other functions of salesperson conflicts. The results indicated that the sales representatives positively perceived servicers but had a negative perception towards cross sellers. Therefore, this indicates that other functions have great sway on conflicts among salespersons. An organization should be in a position to realize the effect of such situations and embark on methods of minimizing this conflict as a way of optimizing the roles and services of salespeople in the organization. The sole goal of an organization through the marketing department is to increase sales volumes and satisfy customers.

The conflict is a liability to the corporation in the sense that it reduces cooperation among the employees, thus undermining the attainment of corporate goals. It is important to understand the roots and the essence of the conflicts and develop mechanisms of reducing them. There should be a sense of communalism among salespeople as a way of increasing the chances of organizational success. The salespeople must understand that they are all important towards the achievement of corporate goals.

There are so many functions in sales that often collide with each other, hence creating several conflicts among the workforce. These conflicts often undermine the team spirit and make it difficult to realize the underlying goals of sales. The proper management of the sales force is important in realizing the highest ideals of the corporation. Among the most important pillars of sales management, include motivation, engagement, and teamwork (Jobber, Lancaster & Jamieson, 2011). Motivation plays a fundamental role in increasing the effectiveness of employees because it offers them the psychological impetus to improve their trade. It is crucial for an organization to motivate its workforce since there are several factors that work against organizational success. Several theories of motivation underscore the importance of motivating the workers along with the methods of doing that. The Maslow hierarchy theory, for instance, offers a systematic motivation of workers that entail the progressive nature of need fulfillment.

The sequential needs accentuated by Maslow offer a better understanding of what it entails to satisfy workers and increase their level of effectiveness. Therefore, each aspect in the hierarchy of needs is unique; hence, should receive the corresponding motivation. This is followed by the emergence of a new need that is also satisfied to pave way for another need. The theory confirms that the role of organization in motivating its workers is never ending, but rather continuous in nature. An organization must ensure that it has constant motivational techniques to increase the effectiveness of workers. Employee engagement is an established method of increasing the morale and effectiveness of workers by giving them roles beyond their job descriptions.

When employees are allowed to participate in various functions of the organization and their opinion sought in decision-making, they feel important and inspired to offer their full contribution to the organization. Teamwork among the sales force is important in increasing their cooperation and attainment of goals. There should be several techniques of increasing teamwork among the employees since their functions are interrelated. When there is no teamwork among the sales force, the employees work separately, thus undermining the effectiveness of sales. They should be together in mind and heart as well as share notes on the various tasks involved in sales. Indeed, this ensures that the decisions and actions taken reflect the true essence of the objectives and interests of the organization. In essence, it is very important for the sales people to cooperate and deliver the objectives of the organization.

Sales management involved the efforts of organizations to motivate sales staff, engage them, and increase their degree of teamwork. Such approaches double the chances of success for organizations and ensure uniformity regarding the diverse roles of salespeople. Sales underscore a sensitive area in every business because it is at this point that the organization earns revenue. There should be no divergence in the operation of salespeople since it could undermine the financial success of an organization. When there is conflict among salespeople, the activities of every organization thrive and there is success. It is worth noting that the customers should not be treated to sideshows emanating from salespeople conflict since this would portray a bad image of the organization to its customers.

As exemplified by Littlechilad, Friedberg, and Armstrong (2013), the establishment of performance goals guides the process of managing employees and their performance because it establishes the framework upon which the management occurs. Therefore, every organization must create sustainable performance goals for purposes of personnel management. The authors further opine that performance and goals play a very important role in determining the processes of managing workers. In this case, the employees perform to achieve goals. It is imperative to understand the success factors in the process of managing these two components. The most important factors in managing goals and performance include the stack ranker goal management, 360 reviews, performance management, and calibration.

The significance of performance goals lies in the fact that it makes it easier to manage employees since it facilitates the process of aligning personal and organizational goals. Therefore, workers can perceive organizational goals personally through the alignment of objectives. The growth of workers is guaranteed as they work for the company. Secondly, through meaningful reviews, it is possible to retain and engage employees. The close collaboration of workers and managers reduces turnover. In addition, through the review of ratings, it is possible to calibrate performance across the organization. In this case, it increases employee development and assists managers in providing training and feedback. Performance goals help in the development of leadership through identifying and nurturing future leaders.

Motivation is the art of increasing the moral and ultimate performance of your employees (Burton, 2012). Motivation gives workers impetus to perform the various duties assigned to them and increases their willingness to do more than just what they are supposed to do. Motivation is important because there are so many factors that undermine the ability of workers to carry out their activities. Workers may not be willing to give their best, they could be having some doubts in their minds, they could be feeling unwanted by the organization, or they could be lacking something. Through motivation techniques, business organization successfully achieve their goals by increasing the role of their workers as well as showing them that they are an inherent part of the organization and everything they do for the company comes back to them. Therefore, motivation offers a platform for the organization to get the employees to do what they are supposed to do. Fundamentally, motivation is a task of managers and resonates with their inherent role in the company, which is getting things done through people.

In essence, managers do not do anything rather they get things done. In fact, this implies that they plan, coordinate, direct, and motivate workers to do the functions of the organization. It appears that motivation is the most crucial element in the tasks of managers. In fact, the process of increasing the effectiveness of corporate practice emanates directly from motivation. If managers plan, direct, coordinate, and control but fail to motivate, there will be no success. Motivation is a psychological and emotional aspect that increases the ability of workers to do their best. After motivation, workers are willing to do more that is required of them because they feel inspired. Employee engagement, personal development, and recognition are just a few areas where the psyche of a worker emanates.

Through employee engagement, the managers practically engage the worker in every way possible to make him/her feel important, needed, and crucial to the organization. When a worker realizes their services are important and that everything they do counts, they feel motivated and want to do more. Engagement also has other components like personal development whenever the employee gets an opportunity to advance his or her personal quotient, life, and goals. It dawns on the worker that whatever he or she does for the organization also benefits him/her. Therefore, this increases the level of contribution a worker gives to the company. Through motivation, managers and workers interact more closely thus aligning the personal goals and the organizational goals. In this case, the effort brings the personal development of the employee and the organizations on a high note. It motivates the worker through generating a sense of pride and purpose in creating value for the organization as well for the employee.

In the modern era of the people concept, it is very important to ensure that the people in the organization are treated well and retained. The most important people in every organization are the workers and the customers. However, the worker serves the customer, which indicates that the employee is central to the success of the organization. If you tamper with the worker, he/she will tamper with the customer, thus undermining the success of the organization. If you treat the workers well and motivate them, they will treat customers well, and hence increase the chances of success. Indeed, this is very applicable to the salespeople who deal directly with customers on behalf of the company. The only aspect of the company that the customer is aware of is the sales section. The attitudes of salespeople towards customers constitute the attitudes of the organization. Therefore, the organization is judged by the activities of salespeople. Therefore, it is imperative to motivate and inspire salespeople.

Performance management underscores the aspect of setting goals and expecting workers to work towards their fulfillment. However, Ordonez, Schweitzer, Galinsky & Bazerman (2009), aver that the process of goal setting is not free of fault as managers may overprescribe the process of goal setting. The authors affirm that if the process is not executed carefully, an organization could set goals that are not achievable. Under normal circumstances, a goal must be realistic enough to be achieved. Therefore, the process of goal setting should be consultative and organized in nature. There should be a consideration of factors like limitations, feasibility, and reasonableness of goals being set. Goals established should be realistic, achievable, and practical in nature. Organizational members ought to feel represented in the process of goal setting.

Ordonez, Schweitzer, Galinsky and Bazerman (2009) indicate that overprescribing goal setting may result in the development of goals that are not consistent with the organization and reality. Therefore, such a process undermines the very essence of organizational goals because the goals established cannot be accomplished as they are. Therefore, the authors point towards the great need to exercise restraint when setting organizational goals. Although performance management is an imperative factor in the development of business organizations, it is apparent that without a proper framework of goal setting, the activities of performance management are invalid. Business organizations should focus on streamlining the inherent process of goal setting to ensure that the goals established under performance management are realistic, organization-based, consultative, and achievable. Although every goal is realizable, the manner in which it is established or created may affect its ability to be applied.

Every business organization should work towards the development of applicable goals that are extreme. When an organization develops goals that are not real or applicable, the organization might not succeed. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure that only realistic goals are set and that every member of the organization takes part or is represented in the process. When the organizations set unrealistic goals, it becomes impossible to achieve them and thus leads to the gradual deterioration of the organization. Inadequate goal setting process is detrimental to the organization because it is a recipe for failure. The easiest way to make an organization fail is to set goals that are not realistic. In essence, there should be efforts to ensure that only the right goals are set since realistic goals can catapult the organization to greater heights of success.

Improving Lead Generation

Gootman, Sio, Senkar, and Stewart (2016) aver that the untapped middle market underscores the unexplored opportunities and foregone profitability for major firms. The authors are of the opinion that the expanding middle class with huge disposable income offers a great array of opportunities for investment. It is of great importance for organization to realize this potential market. The middle class is the driver of consumption in the sense that this category of the market consumers at a very high rate. The organization should consider this market segment in its business processes. The middle-class segment is the substance for all investments, GDP, and job creation. However, there is a sluggish trend by companies investing in this market segment. Although statistics indicate that it is the most promising market segment, few large companies invest in this segment. The organization could take advantage of the lacuna in the market segment to invest in it to create a viable niche for the corporation.

Customer Retention Strategies

According to Incentive Marketing Association, customer retention aspect is an important dynamic on business since it offers an opportunity for the organization to consolidate its market. Customers are very challenging people since they only demand the best. In the process of marketing, there should be benefits to ensure that the existing customers are retained. Although the corporation should endeavor to increase its customer base by admitting new customers, retaining existing customers is a sign of growth for the business. Although it is not easy to retain the existing customers based on emerging competition, quality, good public relations, and consistent marketing is necessary for the retention of customers in the organization. The most important element in customer retention is market communication where the corporation communicates with the market in a two-way manner implying that customers offer their feedback to the company. Market research is another important tactic towards customer retention in the sense that it is based on the actual picture on the ground.

The company conducts research to understand customer tastes, expectations, preferences, trends in the market, and the feedback of clients. A deliberate process to include the feedback obtained from clients into decision-making is integrated in the process. If an organization considers customer feedback in its programs, it will be successful in retaining clients. Although customer retention is a multifaceted task, by considering the tastes, feedback, and expectation of clients, it is possible to retain them. However, market research should be consistent to be successful since the trends in the market and expectations of the clients are dynamic.

It is imperative for the company to track the changes in market trends to continue satisfying the customers’ needs. In addition, the customization of organizational product and service profile would also result in the retention of customers through consistent satisfaction. The success of the company depends on its range of customers since the existing customer can opt out if not if their preferences change. Therefore, marketing and sales efforts should be aimed at retaining existing customers and winning new customers since this is the most important role of the marketing and sales function. In essence, the customer is the king, and the success of any business is attached to the customers’ loyalty.

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