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
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) Focused on Customers:
Personal selling is usually focused or pinpointed on prospective customers. It considers the needs, desires and buying problems of the customers.
5) 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.
6) 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.
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.
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:
a) The market is concentrated either geographically, or in a few industries, or a few large customers.
b) The product has a high unit value, is quite technical in nature, or requires a demonstration.
c) The product must be fitted to an individual customer’s need; as in the case of securities or insurance.
d) The sale involves a trade – in.
e) The product is in the introductory stage of its life cycle.
f) The organization does not have enough money for an adequate advertising campaign.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
The Personal Selling Process
The personal selling process is a logical sequence of eight steps. These steps are taken to deal with the prospective buyers.
Pre approach before interview
Approaches to the customer
Handling customer objectives
Closing the sale
Follow up action
Pre sale preparation – In this stage, the salesperson prepare himself with adequate knowledge about the product he will sell, the company he will represent, the market in which he will sell, the competitors products and prices the category of customers or segments he will target.
Prospecting and Qualifying – The next step in personal selling is to identify prospects. Prospecting is the process of identifying potential buyers who have a need for the products and services offered by the company, the ability to pay for it and the adequate authority to buy it.
The salesman first identifies potential customers and then qualifies them. Qualifying consists of determining whether the customers have the necessary purchasing power, authority, and willingness to buy. It could be done through Cold canvassing, Prospect pool, Center of influence, Observation, Trade shows demonstration, Telemarketing, Friends & Acquaintances
Pre approach to Individual Prospects – After qualifying the prospects, before the sales person approaches the customers for a sale, it is necessary to develop a sales strategy by collecting customer data and combining them with the product attributes as a fit for satisfying the individual and organizational needs. A Pre approach selling strategy for each prospect requires a clear understanding of his personal characteristics need. Salespeople should learn all they can about the customers to whom they hope to sell. This step consists of finding out what products the prospective customers are now using and their reactions to these products. Salesmen also should try find out the personal habits and preferences of a prospect. This will help to adjust their presentations to individual buyers. The salesmen should set objectives. They should decide on best approach, which might be a personal visit, a phone call, or a letter. The best timing should also be considered and plan an overall sales strategy for the prospective customers.
Approach to the customers – This next step is to approach to the customer when the prospect is classified and the selling strategy is developed to satisfy the customer needs. The salesperson comes in contact with the potential customer and makes efforts to influence them for a favorable decision. The salesman should know how to greet the buyer, show courtesy and attention to the buyer and avoid bad mannerisms such as staring at the customer. The opening remark should be positive and might be followed by key questions and active listening to understand the buyer and his needs better.
Sales Presentation – On the basis of information collected from pre approach, a salesperson can design a sales presentation. This will attract the prospect’s attention, hold interest, arouse desire and stimulate action by closing the sale
Making the Presentation
I. Stimulus Response Format – This is where salesperson keeps suggesting an item until the buyer responds, like the McDonalds order taker.
II. Formula Selling Format – more formal and planned, like a telemarketer
III. Canned Selling Presentation – This is a memorized, standardized message conveyed to every prospect. It works best when seller is a nervous or does not know the buyer well.
Demonstrating the Sales Message: Here the salesperson presents his products & services before the prospect and makes effort to create and modify their interest into sales realization for the company. While giving sales presentation, the sales person should always try to think about the features and attributes of the product with customer’s needs.
Handling customer objections – Customers make objections after or during the presentation. These objections are many time excuses for not buying. Objections normally pause the sale process because the customer either has not fully understood the product & its benefits or is not fully in agreement with the salesperson objections may take form of doubts minor objections and major objections.
Closing the sale – Closing the sale is the goal in any selling process for a sales person. This comes after the objections are effectively handled and the customer is satisfied with the presentation & is ready to place an order.
Collecting feedback and Post (sale Services) – An effective selling job does not end with getting the order. Post-sale activities are essential to build customer goodwill. These services also prepare the groundwork for future business. A good salesman ensures that no problems occur in delivery, financing, installation, employee training and other areas. These services are the important source of customer satisfaction. They reduce the customer’s post –purchase anxiety that may occur after a person makes a buying decision.
A salesperson can minimize the customer’s dissatisfaction by
- Stating the product’s benefits,
- Emphasizing why the product is better than its alternatives,
- Explaining how happy the customer will be with the product purchased.
Qualities of a good sales person
Some of the qualities of a good salesperson are as follows:
1. Physical Quality: A salesperson should have a good appearance and an impressive personality.
2. Mental Quality: A good salesperson should possess certain mental qualities like imagination, initiative, self confidence, sharp memory; alertness, etc. He should be able to understand the need and preferences of the customer.
3. Integrity of Character: He should possess the qualities of honesty and integrity. He is to gain the confidence of the customer. He should be loyal to the employer as well as to the customer.
4. Knowledge of the product and the company: Should be able to explain each and every aspect of the product i.e. its qualities, how to use it, what precautions to be taken, etc and the company he is representing.
5. Good behavior: A salesman should be cooperative and courteous. Good behavior enables one to win the confidence of the customers.
6. Ability to Persuade: A good salesperson should be good in conversation so that he can engage the person he is attending. He should be able to convince him and create the desire in mind to possess the commodity.
7. Flexibility of approach: He should interact with the customer with a flexible approach i.e. try to persuade different type of customers with different reasons.
8. Risk Taker: A salesperson should take a calculative risk while selling the product or service.
9. Clearly defined goals and purposes
10. Ability to estimate customer’s needs and desires: He or she is alert and quickly determines what the customer wants and the best way to sell.
11. Ambition: He or she likes to do a good job and is interested in getting ahead with the company.
12. Business Sense: Should understands that a is in business to make a profit and quickly learns the ins – and – outs of the organisation.
13. Courtesy: Should be in a position to reveals a sincere desire to help customers and treats them as guests even when he or she visits their places of business.
14. Creativeness: Imagination, vision and the ability to create ideas make a salesperson dynamic.
15. Curiosity: He or she wants to learn all he or she can about his or her products and customers.
16. Enthusiasm: There is nothing that can drain away a prospect’s buying interest more than a half – dead salesperson. Dullness should be left at home. A salesperson must radiate enthusiasm during and after the sales call.
17. Figure Sense: He or she should have the mathematical ability to figure and fill up order form correctly and to make the necessary reports.
18. Flexibility: A good salesperson is able to adapt himself or herself to a variety of customers. Each contact may require adapting the sales talk, speech habits and even appearance.
19. Friendliness : A salesperson should be able to make people like him or her and he or she must like to meet people
20. Handwriting: He or she must write legibly so that his or her paper work can be readily understood by his or her office people and by his or her customers.
21. Health: Good health generates energy and energy is needed to sell. Poor health prevents many salespersons from fulfilling their potentials.
22. Interest in job: He or she likes selling and working for the company. .
23. Motivation: He or she must have more than just an interest is selling. Psychologists have found certain predominant patterns in people who have become really successful salesperson. They live in the present and not in the future. They do want power over others and prefer not to work under close supervision.
24. Originality: He or she is constantly searching for new ideas to be used in selling the products and suggests better ways of doing things.
25. Persuasiveness: Very few products of any type actually sell themselves. They must be sold. Your salesperson must have the ability to get people to agree. There are situations when persuasiveness may vary keeping in view the consumer’s response.
26. Positive: His or her maturity is reflected in his or her behavior. He or she should be positive, confident, and energetic and business like. He or she should be able to demonstrate to the customers that he or she knows what he or she is talking about.
27. Self – control: He or she can handle difficult people and situations calmly.
28. Self – starter: A perfect salesperson works well without constant supervision and is able to make decisions on his or her own.
29. Speech: Should be able to speak clearly and maturely in a natural tone. He or she can emphasize sales points with sincerity and friendliness
Characteristics of a successful salesperson
There are a few natural skills that are of great benefit if they already exist within those that want to be successful in sales. Without these, success will take a longer time but it can still be achieved.
1. Effective Communicator: Communication covers a lot of territory. Sales is all about talking to people and getting them to understand what you are trying to communicate.
2. Ability to Listen: Along with speaking, a great salesperson knows when to stop talking and listen. They never cut someone off while they are talking, because in doing so they would fail to hear a key element in identifying what that person’s needs might be.
3. Asks Great Questions: Salespeople are naturally inquisitive and know that in order to isolate what the real need or desire is in the buyer, they need to ask questions that will lead them to the answer. They naturally ask questions because they have a desire to help solve their problem.
4. Problem Solver: Another natural skill is the desire and ability to solve problems. Great salespeople are always solving problems. The ability to know what the buyer’s problem is and offering suggestions that will effectively solve the problem with respect to what products or services you sell, generally results with a sale.
5. Well Organized: Sales people have a keen ability to break things down into smaller steps and organize a plan of action. They know how to analyze what their goal is and in what order the steps need to be in order to reach that goal.
6. Self – Starter and Self – Finisher: A successful sales person moves forward on their own. They never need anyone to tell them when it is time to go to work because they know that if they do not work they will not earn. They are also very persistent to finish what they start. They achieve their goals, even if they are small ones.
7. Positive Self Image: Having the attitude that they can do just about anything that they put their mind to is usually very common among sales people. They do not cower from meeting or talking to people or trying something new. They rarely allow negatives that are either spoken to them or about them to effect what they are trying to accomplish because they know who they are and what they are capable of doing.
8. Well Mannered and Courteous: The best sales people are very well mannered. You may not realize it, but good manners are a way of showing respect for others. People are attracted to those that respect them and mutual respect is fundamental in building lasting relationships with people, including buyers.
9. Naturally Persuasive: Another very common inherent skill with great salespeople is that they are very persuasive or know how to get what they want. They focus on what they want and they are persistent to keep chipping away until they get what they want. They almost never give up or give in.
10. Person of Integrity: A salesperson without integrity will have many struggles which will often include hopping from job to job. Honesty in sales is so important and it is almost impossible for this skill to be taught.