Meaning and Definition of Personal Selling

Personal selling refers to the use of speech and personal conviction to bring about some action on the part of another. Salesperson is a man who actually performs the personal selling.

A salesperson in personal selling tries to persuade the prospect so that he can take a decision to buy product. It is a major factor in creating sales volume. It is a direct presentation of a product to a prospective customer by a salesman. It takes place face to face or over the telephone. It may be directed to a middleman or a final consumer

Personal selling is a face – to – face interaction with one or more prospective purchasers for the purpose of making presentations answering questions, and procuring orders.”

Personal selling involves two – way communication with prospects that allows the sales massage to be adapted to the special needs of the customer.


Characteristics of Personal Selling

Part of Promotional Mix:

Personal selling is a part of promotional mix, or the communication mix, in the company’s marketing program. The major elements in the promotional mix are the company’s advertising, sales promotion, and personal selling efforts.

Individual, Personal Communication:

Personal selling is the individual and personal communication of information, in contrast to the mass, impersonal communication of advertising, sales promotion, and other promotional tools.

Flexible Tool:

Personal selling is more flexible than these other tools. Salespeople can tailor their presentations to fit the needs and behavior of individual customers. Salespeople can see their customer’s reaction to a particular sales approach and make adjustments on the spot.

Focused on Customers:

Personal selling is usually focused or pinpointed on prospective customers. It considers the needs, desires and buying problems of the customers.

Alive Interaction:

Personal selling involves an alive, immediate, and interactive relationship between two or more persons. Each party observes the other’s needs at close hand and makes immediate adjustments.

Long-run Relationship:

Personal selling permits all kinds of relationship to spring up. It establishes a selling relationship and also a deep personal friendship. It keeps customer’s best interests at heart. It maintains long run relationships.


Personal selling is based on buyer’s reactions and response. It makes the buyer feel that he is listened to, and his needs are considered.


It is concerned with persuasive communication. A salesperson in personal selling tries to persuade the prospect so that he can take a decision to acquire the product which the salesperson is talking about.


Human Element into Marketing:

It is a major factor in creating sales volume. It brings human element into marketing transactions and increases the customer’s confidence in the supplier.

Broader Concept:

Personal selling is a broader concept than salesmanship. Personal selling, along with other marketing elements, is a means for implementing marketing program’s. Salesmanship is one aspect of personal selling it is never all of it. Personal selling makes use of salesmanship techniques.


: Personal selling is creative by nature. The salespeople try to create needs, make the customers aware of these needs and try to persuade them to buy the product. Salesperson does not sell, but they create in the other man the urge to buy.

Service Element:

It is necessarily an act of assisting the customers to buy wisely. Today, it has become a symbol for honesty and dependability. In fact, it is a service that is serving the customer for the good cause of humanity.

Types of Personal Selling

There are two kinds of personal selling:

  1. Across –the -Counter Selling: In this kind of selling Customers come to the salespeople. It involves retail store selling. It also includes the salespeople at catalogue retailers who take telephone orders. Most salespeople fall into this category.
  2. Field Selling: It is the selling where the salespeople go to the customers. These people sell in person at a customer’s place of business or home. Outside sales-force usually represent producers or wholesaling middlemen, selling to business users. Today, some companies have a sales-force that goes to the customers in person. Some outside selling is becoming electronic.

Objectives of Personal Selling

  • To do the entire selling job
  • To “service” existing accounts
  • To search out and obtain new customers
  • To secure and maintain customers cooperation in stocking and promoting the product line
  • To keep customers informed on changes in the product line and other aspects of marketing strategy
  • To assist customers in selling the product line
  • To capture and retain a certain market share
  • To obtain sales volume in ways that contributes to profitability
  • To obtain some number of new accounts of given types
  • To keep personal -selling expenses within set limits
  • To secure targeted percentages of certain accounts’ business

Need and Importance of Personal Selling

  1. Need of Today: The need of personal selling has increased in present age due to the flood of products in the market and keen competition.
  2. Basis of Economic Fortunes: If the personal selling effort in an organization falters/falls, then the economic fortunes of that organization will likely decline. It largely determines the firm’s financial future.
  3. To Carry Promotional Load: Personal selling is a major ingredient of promotion mix of a company. It has a big role in implementing promotional programme. Personal selling carries the bulk of the promotional load when:
  1. The market is concentrated either geographically, or in a few industries, or a few large customers.
  2. The product has a high unit value, is quite technical in nature, or requires a demonstration.
  3. The product must be fitted to an individual customer’s need; as in the case of securities or insurance.
  4. The sale involves a trade – in.
  5. The product is in the introductory stage of its life cycle.
  6. The organization does not have enough money for an adequate advertising campaign.


  1. Minimum Wasted Effort: Personal selling is focused on prospective customers. Thus, it minimizes wasted effort. In contract, much of the cost of advertising is spent on sending messages to people who in no way are real prospects.
  2. Increase in Profitable Sales: The goal of marketing activities is to increase profitable sales by satisfying the want of consumers over the long run. Personal selling is by far the major promotional method used to realize this goal. The number of people employed in personal selling is a big one than advertising.
  3. Largest Single Operating Expense: In many companies, personal selling is the largest single operating expense. It often equals 8 to 15% of sales, whereas advertising costs average 1 to 3 % of sales.
  4. Mirror of the Market: Personal selling is a mirror of market. It supplies market information back to the firm. It keeps eye on market nerve, fashion trends and consumer profile. It regularly assesses the competitive forces of the market.
  5. Broader Roles: Salesmen persuade prospective customers, expedite orders, coordinate deliveries, set-up displays, service their accounts, gather market information, and have solve customers’ problems. Thus, today’s salesman performs a wide variety of sales roles.
  6. Cost-Effective Tool: Personal selling is the most cost-effective tool at later stages of the buying process. It builds up buyers’ preference, conviction, and action. Personal selling is an alive and interactive relationship, it considers the other’s needs and it develops all kinds of relationship, even a deep personal friendship. It makes the buyer feel obliged, attended and responded.
  7. Exerting Influence: Salesmen can accomplish difficult things through advertising, sales promotion publicity and public relations. They can tailor their messages to the characteristics and desires of particular prospects; modify ongoing presentations in accordance with the feedback from prospects: they are in a position to ask for an order at a strategic time and if turned down, they can communicate further, in an effort to recoup and obtain an order.
  8. Convincing and Creating Customers: Salespersons locate and identify the customers who are interested in the company products. They transform prospects into buyers by understanding their needs. Personal selling provides “repeat purchases ‘ to the company.
  9. Creation of International Markets: Personal selling has created not only national but international markets. This has been the basis of global trade and culture.

Limitations and Demerits of Personal Selling

High Cost: The cost of developing and operating a sales force is high. More money is spent on personal selling than on any other form of promotion. A sales force represents a greater long – term commitment than advertising.

Unable to Attract High Calibre People: A company often is unable to attract the quality of people needed to do the job. At the retail level, many firms have abandoned their sales forces and shifted to self-service for this very reason.

Difficult to Curtail: Advertising can be turned on and off, but the size of a sales-force is more difficult to alter.

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