What is Personal Selling?
Personal selling is the person-to-person or face-to-face interaction between the seller and buyer where usually the seller interacts with the potential buyer with a hope to sell his product or service.
Personal selling is when the seller personally visits his customers and involve in the process of persuading them to purchase goods or services through an oral presentation. It is a traditional method of promotion. It is as old as human civilization.
It is being used as the most effective means of promoting goods and services because it is a process of direct or two-way communication between the buyer and seller. It provides individual attention for each consumer and passes a lot of information. And, personal selling is one of the essential elements of the promotion mix.
At present, personal selling is not limited only to person-to-person or face-to-face communication as it was traditionally. Due to the advancement of technology direct mail to the target customer, phone calls, messages, video calls, etc. are also considered as a personal selling means, today.
Features of Personal Selling
The distinctive features of personal selling are mentioned as follows,
Personal Interaction. In personal selling, there is personal interaction and communication. It is not like advertising where there is non-personal communication. Here, the marketer, seller, or advertiser directly shares his idea, service, or product to the customers, and customers can also directly share their need, want, and gets the intention of the seller.
Relationship Building. Personal selling also aims at building a good relationship between a seller and prospective buyer. Where trust is being established on salespersons in the mind of consumers which ultimately increases the rate of achieving marketing objectives.
Two Way Communication. It is two-way communication, it is like mass communication. Here, the buyer and seller can share and exchange their messages between them. As such, the buyer can ask the seller about his offerings and seller also transfer his offerings benefit, features, and uses to his prospective buyers.
Flexibility. It is flexible, it is not in a static manner. The seller can act and say as per the intention, personality, and real-time desire of the buyer. If the seller feels the way he is delivering the message, buyers are not getting it, he may immediately change his way which is not possible in advertising.
Quick Flow of Information & Immediate Feedback. Since personal selling is direct face-to-face communication, there is the possibility of a quick flow of information. And, the immediate feedback is also. Here, as fast as the seller delivers his messages at the same speed the buyer can also respond to them.
Mutual benefits. Since it is two-way communication, the benefits are also two-way. The seller is benefited when the buyer buys his offerings and the buyer is benefited from the uses and features of that product or service.
Persuasion. The ultimate goal of personal selling is to persuade the customers towards the intention of the seller and make them take action. It is not just informing or sharing information, it is persuading the customers to do the way i.e. influencing them to purchase the seller’s goods and services.
Types of Personal Selling
There are four major types of personal selling, they are trade selling, missionary selling, new business selling, technical selling.
Trade Selling is that focuses on increasing business volume by providing customers with promotional and merchandising assistance.
The main objective of missionary selling is to increase business volume by providing product information. In this type of selling, the missionary sellers try to stimulate new sales. For example, medical representatives for stimulating sales.
New Business Selling
The new business seller’s job is to increase business volume by obtaining new accounts or new customers. This process is also referred to as canvassing, bird-dogging, and cold-calling.
Technical salespersons like professional consultants. The main objective of technical selling is to increase business volume by providing technical information and assistance.
Technical salespersons are especially used in selling industrial products, such as chemicals, machinery, heavy equipment, etc. as these products require special knowledge from the sellers.
Process of Personal Selling
How to do personal selling? There are 7 step processes to make personal selling successful, they are shorty explained as below,
The initial step of making personal selling successful is prospecting. It is the activity the seller does to know his potential customers. For successful prospecting, the seller may opt for cold calling, referrals, observation, tradeshows, etc.
This second step, involves all the activities, preparation a seller does before meeting his prospective customers. Here, the marketer may do research about the customers and the markets he is likely to go there.
As the approach itself says, in this step, the seller first time meets his customers and makes real (direct) interaction with them. In this stage, the main objective of the seller is to understand the desire and needs of the customers so that he can be best for his sales presentation.
After understanding the need and wants of the customers, the seller here goes for giving a presentation on his offerings. As personal selling is face-to-face communication, the seller presents his offerings being in front of the buyers and tells them about the product or service features, benefits, how to use, etc. The main objective of a sales presentation is to make desire in the consumer’s mind.
Usually, in the handling objectives step, the customers come with various questions and doubts. Here, the seller’s goal is to adequately give answers to the questions of customers and earn their trust.
After the completion and clearance of the questions, the customers move to purchase the products the seller has offered. Here, the seller’s task is to support the customers to successfully finalize the deals.
Once the products and services are sold out, it is the responsibility of the seller to know that, do the sold products really met the expectations of the customers or not?
Objectives of Personal Selling
The primary objectives/relevance of personal selling are explained as follows,
Inform. It is so relevant in today’s marketing world as it informs the target customers about the different aspects of products. It provides information to the customers by explaining about all goods services & attributes and answering any question asked.
Persuade. Personal selling aims to persuade customers by,
- Clearly distinguishing goods or service attributes from those of competitors,
- Converting undecided customers into buyers,
- Selling complementary items, and
- Satisfying dissatisfied customers.
Remind. It reminds the customer from time to time and again about the products and firms. It is done by,
- Ensuring delivery and installation,
- Following up after goods or services has been purchased,
- Reassuring previous customers when making a new purchase, etc.
Build Company Image. One of the primary objectives of personal selling is to build a positive company image. It aims to do this by,
- Maintaining a good appearance while contacting customers following acceptable sales practices,
- Talking gloriously about the product and services,
- Making customers happy.
Develop Relationship. It focuses on developing everlasting exchange relationships with customers. This is another significant reason that makes personal selling more relevant in today’s marketing time.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Personal Selling
Just like other components of the promotion mix, personal selling also has some advantages and disadvantages. They are,
Some advantages of personal selling are mentioned below.
Realization of Real Intention of Customers. Personal selling is not like standing away and seeing the messages doing work like in advertising and other forms of the promotion mix. It is the direct interaction, the seller can get the real-time response and intention of the prospective customers.
Delivers More Information. Of course, personal selling delivers more information to the customers than other components of the promotion mix. Since in other promotion mix components, the specific message is set or written and with the help of different media such messages are delivered.
But here, the seller if wants can deliver as much as information he wants if customers do not get bored and also respond to the feedback of customers immediately.
Two-Way Communication. Another significant advantage is that it enables sellers to do two-way interaction. In this process, customers are able to clear their doubts and questions at the time they want. Such, benefits are not possible in advertising.
Build Relationship. It also helps to build long-term relationships with customers. By closely communicating and understanding the pain and problems of customers the marketer or seller can offer the right prodcut. Understanding each other’s problems leads to building mutual trust.
Some of the disadvantages of personal selling are as follows,
Expensive. Personal selling is actually an expensive means of promotional activity. Since it is person-to-person communication for each customer individually the seller has to visit. If customers’ numbers are high, a large number of sellers are also required.
Requires Talented Salesperson. It requires a talented salesperson. Since the communication is individual to understand and communicate attractively the seller needs to have good communication skills and human understanding quality. The aggressive sellers do not fit in such promotional activity.
Limited Coverage. Personal selling has limited coverage. As such it is one-to-one communication, it can not cover the larger area as other promotional tools cover. Such as in single advertising the whole country’s customers are reached but in personal selling is it just an imagination.