Personal Selling: Meaning, Roles, Steps

What is Personal Selling? – Meaning of Personal Selling

Meaning of Personal SellingPersonal selling jobs are of many types. Personal selling plays a different role in different companies.

The history of the selling profession dates back to the days of antiquity. People engaged in selling jobs bear many names such as salespeople, sales representatives, account executives, sales consultants, sales engineers, agents, district managers, and marketing representatives.

Nowadays, most salespeople are well-educated and well-trained professionals. They work for building and maintaining long-term relationships with customers.

They accomplish these tasks by listening to their customers, assessing customer needs, and organizing their efforts to customer problems and satisfy customer needs.

A salesperson acts for a company by performing one or more of the following activities: prospecting, communicating, servicing, and information gathering. The term ”salesperson” encompassed a wide range of positions.

At one extreme, a salesperson might be mainly an ‘order taker,’ such as the retail store salesperson standing behind the counter.

At the other extreme are ‘order getters.’ They are salespersons whose positions demand the creative selling of products and services, ranging from appliances, industrial equipment, or airplanes to insurance, advertising, or consulting services.

Some salespeople engage in ‘missionary selling.’ These salespeople are not supposed to take orders.

They work for building goodwill or educating buyers.

An example is a salesperson for a pharmaceutical company that calls on doctors to educate them about its drug products and urge them to prescribe these products to their patients.

Read our post on types of selling and on the process of building and managing an effective sales force.

Role of Personal Selling

Personal selling is the interpersonal tool of the promotion mix. Unlike advertising, personal selling is two-way personal communication between salespeople and individual customers.

This communication may take place face-to-face, by telephone, through video conferences, or by other means. This implies that personal selling may be more trustworthy than advertising in more complicated selling situations.

Salespeople can be very effective in exploring the problems of the customers. They can compose the marketing offer to suit each customer’s special needs and negotiate terms of sale.

The role of the sales force varies from company to company. Companies that sell through mail-order catalogs, brokers, and agents do not maintain salespeople.

However, the sales force plays a critical role in companies selling business products. They work directly with customers and represent the company.

Salespeople employed in consumer goods-producing companies do not come into direct contact with the customers.

Nonetheless, their role is valuable because they work with wholesalers and retailers and help them be more effective in selling the company’s products.

Very often, salesforce works for both the seller and the buyer. They locate and develop new customers and communicate information about the company, its products, and services.

They perform selling task by approaching customers, presenting their products, answering objections, negotiating prices and terms, and closing sales.

Furthermore, salespeople provide services to customers, conduct market research, gather market information, and fill out sales call reports.

Simultaneously, salespeople represent customers to the company.

They communicate with the executives of the company’s customer needs and concerns about company products. Thus, salespeople play an important role in managing the relationship between the seller and buyer.

Modern management maintains that salespeople should be interested in more than just generating sales. They also should learn the technique of producing customer satisfaction and making company profit.

They should evaluate sales data, measure market potential, gather market information, and formulate marketing strategies and plans.

Principles of Personal Selling

Personal selling is an old art. Yet successful salespeople work on more than just intuition

Salespeople follow the principles that have evolved out of the art of personal selling. Today’s salespeople are well trained in methods of territory analysis and customer management.

Thus, personal selling has been recognized as a process and not as a single event.

Steps of Personal Selling

Steps of Personal Selling

7 Steps of Personal Selling that the salesperson follows when selling is;

  1. prospecting and qualifying,
  2. pre-approach,
  3. approach,
  4. presentation and demonstration,
  5. handling objections,
  6. closing, and
  7. follow-up.

These steps concentrate on getting new customers.

However, most salespeople devote much of their time to maintaining existing customers and building long-term customer relationships.

We now look at the steps in the selling process.

1. Prospecting and Qualifying

This is the first step in the selling process in which the salesperson identifies qualified potential customers. The salesperson often must approach many prospects to obtain just a few sales. Although the company supplies some leads, salespeople should develop the skill of finding their own.

They can collect names of prospects from the current customers. They can create referral sources, such as suppliers, dealers, noncompeting salespeople, and bankers.

They can look for names in newspapers or directories and use the telephone and mail to track down leads. They can pay unannounced visits to various offices – a practice known as “cold calling.”

Salespeople must learn how to qualify leads. They need to know how to identify the good ones and screen out the poor ones. Prospects can be qualified by examining their financial ability, business volume, special needs, location, and possibilities for growth.

2. Pre-approach

In this step of the selling process, the salesperson learns as much as possible about a prospective customer before making a sales call.

To know about the customer, the salesperson can consult standard sources, acquaintances, and others. The salesperson should then set call objectives – qualifying the prospect, gathering information, making an immediate sale.

The salesperson should also decide on the best approach-personal visit, phone call, or letter. The most appropriate timing should be considered carefully.

Finally, the salesperson should carefully review the overall sales strategy for the customer.

3. Approach

In this step, the salesperson meets and greets the buyer to get the relationship off to a good start. This step consists of the salesperson’s appearance, opening lines, and the follow-up remarks.

4. Presentation and Demonstration

During this step, the salesperson tells the product “story” to the buyer, explaining how the product will make or save money. The salesperson describes the product features but emphasizes on highlighting customer benefits.

Following a need-satisfaction approach, the salesperson begins searching for the customer’s needs by provoking the customer to talk. This approach requires good listening and problem-solving skills.

Sales presentations can be made more effective with demonstration aids, such as booklets, flip charts, slides, videotapes or videodiscs, and product samples.

5. Handling Objections

During this step, the salesperson seeks out, clarifies, and overcomes customer objections to buying.

In handling objections, the salesperson should follow a positive approach, seek out bidden objections, ask the buyer to clarify any objections, take objections as opportunities to provide more information, and take the objections into reasons for buying.

6. Closing

During this step, the salesperson asks the customer for an order. Salespeople can apply one of several closing techniques.

They can ask for immediate order, reexamine the agreement’s points, offer to help write up the order, indicate that the buyer will lose if the order is not placed now.

The salesperson may put forward special reasons to close, such as a lower price or an extra quantity without any charge.

7. Follow-up

Follow-up is the last step in the selling process in which the salesperson follows up after the sale to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business.

After closing, the salesperson should immediately complete any details on delivery time, purchase terms, and other issues.

The salesperson should then fix up a follow-up call when the initial order is received to ensure proper installation, instruction, and servicing.

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