Approaches In Personal Selling (4 Approaches Explained)

Approaches In Personal Selling (4 Approaches Explained)

Approaches In Personal Selling

There are mainly four types of approaches to personal selling. The approaches of personal selling can be explained as below,

Stimulus-Response Approach

Although Skinner and Pavlov had applied this approach to testing the motivational behavior of rats and dogs, it is applicable to generally most business disciplines.

The psychological experiments to this approach, have clarified that responsive behavior is reflective and predictive of the stimulation factors. When subjects are rewarded for correct responses, the responses become automatic.

When this concept is applied in a sales presentation, a salesperson should concentrate, on saying the right things at the right time to get the desired response from the prospect/customer. The statement the salesperson makes is the stimulus and the reactive answer that he gets is the response that reflects the stimulus.

This stimulus-response approach is most suitable in simple and straightforward selling as well as when there is limited time and the salesperson has to present his/her points in the limited time available.

For example, A medical sales representative can describe his product within a certain time limit and get a response from a prospective doctor.

Mental State Approach

By applying this approach in a sales presentation, a salesperson tries not only to appeal to the customer but also to maintain his interest and create buying desire through planned sales stories. The main objective of this method is to bring the customer to the desired mental state for closing a sale.

This method was, first of all, emphasized by St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 with an advisor for salespeople, “Attract attention, maintain interest, create desire and get action.” This approach has been accepted widely by salespeople nowadays. In spite of being extremely effective, some typical problems may arise while implementing it.

A salesperson may not know when a prospect’s attention is caught, or when interest turns into the desire to buy. This means the customer may be sticking to a certain mental state. As a result, it could become difficult to bring him to the desired mental state. Another problem in this approach is that a salesperson may over-emphasize a particular stage of sales presentation by ignoring the next.

For example, instead of creating interest, he may unnecessarily lengthen the sales stories.

However, as this approach is simple to apply, the salespeople get the advantage of thoroughly planning their presentation in their own way.

Need Situation Approach/Need Discovery Technique

Salespeople use this approach specifically taking into account the need satisfaction that the prospect is seeking as the solution of the problems the prospect will get in choosing the right product/service.

This is why, while making a sales presentation, a salesperson tries to ascertain his customer’s needs. In other words, the salesperson tries to identify the good prospect first, then he offers the solution in hand so that he will be able to provide the best satisfaction to the prospect. This means a salesperson must analyze the sales process from the buyer’s viewpoint and from his/her own. In the course of such an analysis, the salesperson should try to seek answers to the following questions:

  • What are the prospect’s real needs and wants?
  • How will the product benefit the buyer?
  • How to present the product so that the customer will buy it?
  • How to persuade the customer for future sales?

The implementation of this approach depends on various constraints. First of all, the salesperson must be experienced with a solid sales background. Secondly, the salesperson must have knowledge of the psychology of communication and persuasion. Thirdly, he/she must possess the ability for high involvement level (spending time and effort) in course of identifying the prospect’s needs and demonstrating the product.

Problem Solving Approach

The problem-solving approach is a combination of the need satisfaction approach and the scientific approach. When the salesperson uses this approach in the course of the sales presentation, he/she follows these steps:

  • Step 1 – Identification of customer’s needs.
  • Step 2 – Asking the customer to list the alternative products/ services that he needs.
  • Step 3 – Asking the customer to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative product/service.
  • Step 4 – Helping the customer to select the best alternative.

This approach needs a close relationship between a salesperson and a buyer and also requires greater time and effort to make the buyer choose the best alternative. It is generally applied in making sales presentations for technical products and services.


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