What is personal selling?
Personal selling is one of the forms of promotion or marketing communications used by organizations to communicate with the marketplace and drive purchases of their products. Along with advertising, public relations, and sales promotion – personal selling makes up the promotions mix or marketing communications mix of a company.
Personal selling can be defined as: direct person-to-person communication between sellers and potential customers, with the aim of persuading potential customers to purchase products.
Personal selling often occurs face-to-face, however it can also take place through telephone conversations, online video conferencing or online text communication.
Personal selling is an effective way to promote and sell high priced and/or complex products. This is because the person-to-person approach allows for detailed explanation of products and any individual questions or concerns the customer has can be immediately addressed.
Main Steps in the Personal Selling Process
There are many steps involved in the process of personal selling: prospecting, pre-approach, approach, sales presentation, handling objectives, and follow up.
The first step of the personal selling process is called ‘prospecting’. Prospecting refers to locating potential customers. There are many sources from which potential customers can be found: observation, social contacts, trade shows, commercially-available databases, commercially-available mail list and cold calling.
The nest step in the personal selling process is called the ‘pre-approach’. The pre-approach involves preparation for the sales presentation. This preparation involves research about the potential customers, such as market research. Research is useful in planning the right sales presentation. During the pre-approach the salesperson may also plan and practice their sales presentation.
The next step in the personal selling process is called the ‘approach’. The approach refers to the initial contact between the salesperson and the prospective customer. During this stage the sales person takes a few minutes for “small talk" and get to know the potential customer. The goal of the approach is to determine the specific needs and wants of the individual customer, as well as allowing the potential customer to relax and open up.
The next step in the personal selling process is called the ‘sales presentation’. The sales presentation involves the salesperson presenting the product or service, describing its qualities and possibly demonstrating features of the product. Ideally the sales presentation will be individualized to match the needs and desires of the potential customer.
In some cases, after receiving the sales presentation, the potential customer will have some questions or concerns. In order to secure a sale, the salesperson must address these questions or concerns; this step is referred to as ‘handling objectives.’
Closing the sale
The next step in the personal selling process is referred to as ‘closing the sale’. ‘Closing the sale’ refers to finalizing the sale and persuading the potential customer to make the purchase. During the ‘closing the sale’ step, prices and payment options may be negotiated.
The final step in the personal selling process is referred to as the ‘follow up.’ The follow up involves the salesperson contacting the customer after the sale to ensure that the customer is satisfied. If the customer has any existing issues with the product, the salesperson will address them. A successful follow up stage of personal selling can be very effective in ensuring repeat sales, evaluating the effectiveness of the salesperson, and obtaining additional referrals from the satisfied customer.