In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Personal Selling 2. Features of Personal Selling 3. Process 4. Objectives 5. Role and Importance 6. Functions 7. Requisites 8. Advantages 9. Disadvantages 10. Challenges.
- Meaning of Personal Selling
- Features of Personal Selling
- Process of Personal Selling
- Objectives of Personal Selling
- Role and Importance of Personal Selling
- Functions of Personal Selling
- Requisites of Personal Selling
- Advantages of Personal Selling
- Disadvantages of Personal Selling
- Challenges of Personal Selling
Meaning of Personal Selling:
Personal selling is an act of convincing the prospects to buy a given product or service. It is the most effective and costly promotional method. It is effective because there is face to face conversation between the buyer and seller and seller can change its promotional techniques according to the needs of situation. It is basically the science and art of understanding human desires and showing the ways through which these desires could be fulfilled.
According to American Marketing Association, “Personal selling is the oral presentation in a conversation with one or more prospective purchasers for the purpose of making sale; it is the ability to persuade the people to buy goods and services at a profit to the seller and benefit to the buyer”.
In the word of Professor William J. Stanton, “Personal selling consists in individual; personal communication, in contrast to mass relatively impersonal communication of advertising; sales promotion and other promotional tools”.
Personal selling is a different form of promotion, involving two way face-to-face communications between the salesmen and the prospect. The result of such interaction depends upon how deep each has gone into one another and reached the height of the common understanding. Basically the essence of personal selling is the interpretation of products and services benefits and features to the buyer and persuading the buyer to buy these products and services.
The main features of personal selling are:
i. It is a face to face communication between buyer and seller.
ii. It is a two way communication.
iii. It is an oral communication.
iv. It persuades the customers instead of pressurizing him.
v. It provides immediate feedback.
vi. It develops a deep personal relationship apart from the selling relationship with the buyers and customers.
Personal Selling Process:
The process of personal selling includes prospecting and evaluating, preparing, approach and presentation, overcoming objections, closing the sale and a follow up service.
1. Prospecting and evaluating:
The effort to develop a list of potential customers is known as prospecting. Sales people can find potential buyers, names in company records, customer information requests from advertisements, telephone and trade association directories, current and previous customers, friends, and newspapers. Prospective buyers predetermined, by evaluating (1) their potential interest in the sales person’s products and (2) their purchase power.
Before approaching the potential buyer, the sales person should know as much as possible about the person or company.
3. Approach and presentation:
During the approach, which constitutes the actual beginning of the communication process, the sales person explains to the potential customer the reason for the sales, possibly mentions how the potential buyer’s name was obtained, and gives a preliminary explanation of what he or she is offering. The sales presentation is a detailed effort to bring the buyer’s needs together with the product or service the sales person represents.
4. Overcoming objections:
The primary value of personal selling lies in the sales person’s ability to receive and deal with potential customers’ objections to purchasing the product. In a sales presentation many objections can be dealt with immediately. These may take more time, but still may be overcome.
5. Closing the sale:
Many sales people lose sales simply because they never asked the buyer to buy. At several times in a presentation the sales person may to gauge how near the buyer is to closing.
6. Follow up:
To maintain customer satisfaction, the sales person should follow up after a sale to be certain that the product is delivered properly and the customer is satisfied with the result.
Objectives of Personal Selling:
The major objectives of salesmanship are as follows:
(i) Attracting the Prospective Customers:
The first and foremost objective of a salesperson is to attract the attention of people who might be interested to buy the product he is selling.
(ii) Educating the Prospective Customers:
The salesman provides information about the features, price and uses of the product to the people. He handles their queries and removes their doubts about the product. He educates them as to how their needs could be satisfied by using the product.
(iii) Creating Desire to Buy:
The salesman creates a desire among the prospective customers to buy the product to satisfy specific needs.
(iv) Concluding Sales:
The ultimate objective of personal selling is to win the confidence of customers and make them buy the product. Creation of customers is the index of effectiveness of any salesperson.
(v) Getting Repeat Orders:
A good salesperson aims to create permanent customers by helping them satisfy their needs and providing them product support services, if required. He tries for repeat orders from the customers.
Role and Importance of Personal Selling:
Personal selling consists of individual and personal communication with the customers in contrast to the mass and impersonal communication through advertising. Because of this characteristic, personal selling has the advantage of being more flexible in operation.
A salesperson can tailor his sales presentation to fit the needs, motives, and behaviour of individual customers. He can observe the customer’s reaction to a particular sales approach and then make necessary adjustment on the spot. Thus, personal selling involves a minimum of wasteful efforts. The salesperson can select and concentrate on the prospective customers.
Personal selling helps in sales promotion. It is very important to manufacturers and traders because it helps them to sell their products. It also helps them in knowing the tastes, habits, attitudes and reactions of the people.
The manufacturer can concentrate on producing those goods which are required by the customers. This will further promote the sales. Moreover, a good salesman is able to establish personal support with customers. This way, the business gains permanent customers.
Functions of Personal Selling:
The important functions of a salesperson are as follows:
1. Personal selling is an important method of demonstrating the product to the prospective customers and giving them full information about the product. It is easier to persuade a person to buy a product through face-to-face explanation.
2. In most of the situations, there is a need of explaining the quality, uses and price of the product to the buyer to help him purchase the want satisfying product. Thus, salesmanship is also very important from the point of the buyers.
3. A good salesperson educates and guides the customers about the features and utility of the product.
4. If a product cannot fully satisfy the needs of the customers, the information is transmitted to the manufacturer who will take appropriate steps.
5. Salespersons can also handle the objections of the customers. Creative salesman are always ready to help the customers to arrive at correct decisions while buying certain products.
6. There is direct fact-to-face interaction between the seller and the buyer. The salesperson can receive feedback directly from the customer on a continuous basis. This would help him in modifying his presentation and taking other steps to sell satisfaction to the buyer.
Requisites of Effective Personal Selling:
It is not possible to describe exactly the kind of person who will make a good salesperson. Sales skill has no clear correlation to any combination of appearance, education, technical expertise, or even persuasiveness. There have been successful salesmen who knew little about the technical qualities of the product.
On the other hand, there are many examples of technical champs who could not sell. However, in the modern era of severe competition in the market, it is not easy to become an effective salesman. A business enterprise can develop effective salesman to promote its sales.
In order to achieve effective personal selling, the following requirements must be fulfilled:
1. Personal Qualities:
An effective salesman must possess certain physical, mental, social and vocational qualities.
2. Training and Motivation:
In order to achieve effective personal selling, it is essential to train and motivate the sales persons. The training programme for the sales persons should be designed keeping in view the requirements of the business. The training programme should also aim at imparting knowledge of various selling programme should also aim at imparting knowledge of various selling techniques among the trainees.
For instance, a salesman must be trained how to understand the nature of a customer, how to arouse his interest in the product, and how to close the sales. It is also essential that the person selected for selling has aptitude for this vocation. He has the inner motivation of developing himself into a good salesman. The employer can also motivate him by providing financial and non-financial incentives.
3. Wide Knowledge:
A salesman should have wide knowledge about the following:
The salesman must know himself in order to make use of his personality in selling the products. He should try to know his strong arid week points and remove his weak points through training and experience. He should continuously undertake his self- assessment to know what he requires in order to be an effective salesman.
The salesman is a representative of his employer. He should have a thorough knowledge of the origin and growth of the employer’s business. He must know objects, policies and organisational structure of the employer’s firm. This will enable the salesman to make use of the plus points of the firm selling the product.
The salesman must have full knowledge about the product he sells. He must know what the product is and what are its special features and uses. He should also know the whole process of production so that he may be able to answer the customer’s queries and objections satisfactorily. Mostly, the customers are ignorant about the features, technical details, and benefits of the product and they expect the salesman to give them sufficient information about it.
(d) Competitors’ Products:
The salesman must have complete knowledge about the competitive products because buyers often compare several products before purchasing one of them. The salesman should know the positive and negative features of the various substitutes so that he is in a position to prove the superiority of his product.
Before selling something, a salesman must have sufficient knowledge about the customers to whom he is going to sell. He must try to understand the nature of customers, their habits and their buying motives if he is to win permanent customers. There are a number of considerations which make the prospect to buy a particular product.
These considerations may be grouped under two categories of motives, namely (i) product motives and (ii) patronage motives. Product motives explain why customers buy certain products and patronage motives determine why customers buy from specific dealers. A salesman can understand the motives of the customers by his intelligence and experience.
He should deal with the customer according to his nature. He can mix with a customer who is extrovert and remain reserved with a customer who is introvert. He should also try to know whether a customer intends to purchase for personal use or for business use.
1. The key advantage personal selling has over other promotional methods is that it is a two-way form of communication. In selling situations the message sender (e.g., salesperson) can adjust the message as they gain feedback from message receivers (e.g., customer).
So if a customer does not understand the initial message (e.g., doesn’t fully understand how the product works) the salesperson can make adjustments to address questions or concerns.
Many non- personal forms of promotion, such as a radio advertisement, are inflexible, at least in the short-term, and cannot be easily adjusted to address audience questions.
2. The interactive nature of personal selling also makes it the most effective promotional method for building relationships with customers, particularly in the business-to-business market.
This is especially important for companies that either sell expensive products or sell lower cost but high volume products (i.e., buyer must purchase in large quantities) that rely heavily on customers making repeat purchases.
Because such purchases may take a considerable amount of time to complete and may involve the input of many people at the purchasing company (i.e., buying center), sales success often requires the marketer develop and maintain strong relationships with members of the purchasing company.
3. Finally, personal selling is the most practical promotional option for reaching customers who are not easily reached through other methods. The best example is in selling to the business market where, compared to the consumer market, advertising, public relations and sales promotions are often not well received.
1. Possibly the biggest disadvantage of selling is the degree to which this promotional method is misunderstood. Most people have had some bad experiences with salespeople who they perceived were overly aggressive or even downright annoying.
While there are certainly many salespeople who fall into this category, the truth is salespeople are most successful when they focus their efforts on satisfying customers over the long term and not focusing own their own selfish interests.
2. A second disadvantage of personal selling is the high cost in maintaining this type of promotional effort.
Costs incurred in personal selling include:
(i) High Cost-Per-Action (CPA):
CPA can be an important measure of the success of promotion spending. Since personal selling involves person-to-person contact, the money spent to support a sales staff (i.e., sales force) can be steep. For instance, in some industries it costs well over (US) $300 each time a salesperson contacts a potential customer.
This cost is incurred whether a sale is made or not! These costs include compensation (e.g., salary, commission, and bonus), providing sales support materials, allowances for entertainment spending, office supplies, telecommunication and much more. With such 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.
(ii) Training Costs:
Most forms of personal selling require the sales staff be extensively trained on product knowledge, industry information and selling skills. For companies that require their salespeople attend formal training programs, the cost of training can be quite high and include such expenses as travel, hotel, meals, and training equipment while also paying the trainees’ salaries while they attend.
3. A third disadvantage is that personal selling is not for everyone. Job turnover in sales is often much higher than other marketing positions. For companies that assign salespeople to handle certain customer groups (e.g., geographic territory), turnover may leave a company without representation in a customer group for an extended period of time while the company recruits and trains a replacement.
(i) At first personal selling is dyadic in nature. Dyadic simply means of or relating to two people. Thus, personal selling revolves around a marketing relationship developed between two people. Frequently, personal salespeople enlist the help of others in their organizations to sell to and service customers.
And just as frequently, personal salespeople find themselves making presentations to small groups of people or working with multiple individuals within customers’ firms. However, ultimately a successful marketing relationship is built by two people one person selling and person buying. Successful salespeople identify that person early on and work to win their trust and confidence.
(ii) Secondly personal selling is a process, not a single activity. And done correctly, the process continues indefinitely. Salespeople, sales managers, and others inside the seller’s organization frequently see the selling process as culminating or ending with a signed order.
However, in these days of so-called “relationship marketing” and “customer relationship management” successful organizations recognize that signed orders simply represent one point of positive feedback in an ongoing and continuous process.
(iii) Third, personal selling is highly interactive. In advertising, information flow occurs initially in a one-way direction. What feedback the advertiser receives arrives late well after an advertisement has aired.
Moreover, without costly research, the attitudinal effects of advertising may never be known. In personal selling, feedback is largely Personal Selling instantaneous and continuous.
The two-way flow of information that characterizes personal selling creates a communication channel rich with information, much of it nonverbal. Effective personal salespeople become adept at interpreting this information quickly and adapting their responses to it.
(iv) Personal selling is about problem solving. As the marketing concept is adopted by more and more firms, the emphasis of personal salespeople will be more on identifying customers with a true need for the firm’s products and applying those products to solve customer problems. Less emphasis will be placed on simply making a sale.
The focus on problem solving in personal selling reflects a larger trend toward building relationships between customers and clients. Marketers know that to develop these relationships, they must be willing to forego short term gains, particularly when the salesperson realizes that at that moment a purchase might not be in the customer’s best interests.