Process of Personal Selling

Personal Selling Meaning, Process, Advantages and Disadvantages

Table of Contents:-

Personal Selling Meaning

Selling may be personal or impersonal. Personal selling is a highly distinctive word and the only form of direct sales promotion involving face-to-face relationships between sellers and potential customers. It is a flexible and extremely effective but costly form of sales promotion. Personal selling is a two-way communication or mutual communication.

According to Harold White Head, “Personal selling is the art of presenting and offering that the prospect appreciates the need for it and that a mutually satisfactory sale follows”.

According to the American Marketing Association, “Personal selling is an oral presentation in a conversation with one or more prospective purchasers to make sales”.

Personal selling is a direct, face-to-face, seller-to-buyer conversation which can communicate relevant facts about the product and the firm to the prospect so that he or she may make a buying decision. Personal selling can use the psychology of persuasion most effectively to encourage a buying decision.

Process of Personal Selling

The personal selling process is defined as a process by which a salesperson identifies and locates the prospects, separates the prospects from the suspects, approaches them and makes a sales presentation, handles their objections, and closes a sale. Moreover, he actively seeks out potential sales leads through proactive interactions with existing customers. This approach not only helps him discover new opportunities but also lets him assess the success of our current products and services and measure customer satisfaction.

The steps in the selling process are:

  1. Pre-sale Preparation
  2. Prospecting
  3. Pre-approach
  4. Approach
  5. Presentation and demonstration
  6. Handling objections
  7. Closing the sale
  8. Follow up Action
Process of Personal Selling

1) Pre-Sale Preparation

The first step in personal selling is the careful selection, training, and motivation of salespeople. These individuals need to have a deep understanding of the product, the company, the market, and the art of selling. They must be knowledgeable about competing products and the level of competition in the market. Salespeople must familiarize themselves with the motivations and behaviours of potential buyers.

2) Prospecting

It refers to locating or searching out prospective buyers who need the product and the ability to buy it. Identifying potential customers involves a combination of observation, inquiries, and analysis. By using existing customer records and reaching out to social contacts, business networks, and dealers, companies can improve their understanding of their target audience and successfully grow their customer base.

3) Pre-Approach

This stage involves the collecting of as much relevant information as possible before the sales presentation. The pre-approach investigation is conducted for both new and returning customers, aiming to gather important information about them before any further interactions take place. Systematically collecting information involves making choices about its importance, usefulness, and how it’s structured for accessibility and practical use.

4) Approaching

The salesperson should consistently put the customer’s benefits first. While approaching the customers he should greet the customer with a smile and make him feel at home. To connect with the customer, the salesperson must introduce themselves and their product. This initial introduction is an important step in building a professional relationship and generating interest in the product. While dealing with a different customer, the salesperson must assure the new customer of prompt attention. Salespeople should be cautious in their approach, as the first impression can have a lasting impact. It’s important to create a positive and memorable start.

5) Sales Presentation and Demonstration

Once the salesperson has captured the prospect’s interest, they proceed with the sales presentation and demonstration. This involves giving an engaging verbal and visual presentation of a business proposal. The process should unfold in a relaxed atmosphere, promoting information sharing and requirement establishment by the prospect. Small talk can help reduce tension, but it’s essential to remember that the primary focus should always be on conducting business. To maintain the customer’s interest and to arouse his desire, the salesperson must present and demonstrate the product.

6) Handling Objections

Salespeople should view objections from prospects as a sign of interest and avoid a negative perspective. Instead, they provide an opportunity for the prospect to gather more information to support their decision to make a purchase. These objections suggest that the prospect may need further persuasion, emphasizing the importance of addressing their concerns. Additionally, objections help the salesperson gain a better understanding of the prospect’s thoughts and concerns.

7) Closing the Sale

This marks the final part of the presentation. Closing a sale can make many salespeople nervous, but it’s important to understand that it’s simply confirming an agreement. The stress associated with this step can be reduced if the salesperson genuinely believes that the prospect will benefit greatly from the product after their purchase.

8) Post-Sale Follow-Up

The company conducts these activities to achieve customer satisfaction with the product and its services. These activities involve product installation, checking and ensuring its smooth operation, maintenance, and after-sale service. It helps to secure repeat sales identify additional prospects and evaluate the salesman’s effectiveness.

Advantages of Personal Selling

The major advantages of personal selling are as follows:

1) Tailoring of the Message

Direct interaction allows for customized messages tailored to the recipient’s needs. This enables the sender to address specific concerns, problems, and consumer needs more precisely. Furthermore, the sales representative can gauge the ideal moment to transition to the next selling point, request the sale, or successfully close the deal.

2) Source of Research Information

A well-integrated marketing and sales department recognises the important role of the sales force as the organization’s scouts. Leveraging their unique position, businesses can access valuable insights about both competitors and customers. This collaboration between marketing and sales not only deepens the organization’s market understanding but also empowers it to provide customized solutions that cater to the changing needs of its target audience.

3) Involvement in the Decision Process

Through consultative selling and relationship marketing, the seller becomes more of a partner in the buying decision process, acting in conjunction with the buyer to solve problems. This leads the buyer to rely more on the salesperson and his or her products and services. An added benefit may be increasing the involvement of the organisation’s employees.

4) Allowing for Two-way Interaction

The sender’s capability to engage with the receiver allows them to assess the impact of their message. This interaction enables the clarification of any misunderstandings or objections and supports in-depth real-time discussions on specific selling points. In mass communications, this direct feedback is absent, making it challenging to acquire such information promptly, if at all.

5) Lack of Distraction

In many cases of personal selling, one-to-one presentations are quite common. The likelihood of distractions is minimised and the buyer is generally paying close attention to the sales message. Even when the presentation is made by a group of salespeople or more than one decision maker is present, the setting is less distracting than those in which non-personal mass media are used.

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Disadvantages of Personal Selling

The major disadvantages of personal selling are as follows:

1) Sales Force/Management Conflict

Unfortunately, there are situations in even the best companies when one wonders if the sales staff and marketing staff know they work for the same company and have the same goals. Because of failure to communicate, organisational politics, and numerous other reasons, the sales force and marketing may not be working as a team. The marketing team may not fully understand the challenges faced by the sales staff, and the salespeople might find it hard to grasp the reasoning behind the marketing team’s strategies. This lack of understanding between the two departments can hinder collaboration and, subsequently, the overall success of the organization. Bridging this gap is important for promoting a more harmonious and productive work environment.

2) Inconsistent Messages

The ability to adapt the message to the receiver is a distinct advantage of personal selling. However, the lack of a standardised message can become a disadvantage. The message to be communicated is generally designed by the marketing staff with a particular communication objective in mind. Once the sender establishes this message, they convey it to all receivers. However, the salesperson can alter this message in ways that the marketer didn’t originally intend.

3) High Cost

Another disadvantage of personal selling is the high cost of maintaining this type of promotional effort. Costs incurred in personal selling include:

i) Training Costs: Most forms of personal selling require the sales staff to be extensively trained in product knowledge, industry information and selling skills. When companies require their salespeople to take part in formal training programs, it can result in significant training costs. These expenses include travel, accommodation, meals, training materials, and paying the trainees’ salaries while they attend.

ii) High Cost-Per-Action (CPA): CPA can be an important measure of the success of promotion spending. Personal selling, which requires direct interaction between people, can be quite expensive when it comes to supporting a sales staff or sales force. With such a high cost for maintaining a sales force, selling is often not a practical option for selling products that do not generate a large amount of revenue.

4) Potential Ethical Problems

Because the manager does not have complete control over the messages the salespeople communicate and because income and advancement are often directly tied to sales, sometimes sales representatives twist the rules. They may say and do things they know are not entirely ethical or in the best interest of the firm to get a sale. Additionally, more severe issues can arise.

5) Poor Reach

Personal selling doesn’t reach as many people in the target audience as some other marketing methods. Even if money were no object (not a very likely scenario!), the sales force has only so many hours and so many people it can reach in a given time. Additionally, these accounts are accessed infrequently.

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