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Personal Selling

Research Paraphernalia for Professional Salesmanship

Research by: Anisah Jane L. Manuel
Personal Selling

One important advantage of personal selling is that the selling pitch can be adjusted and individualized to the prospect. Once you determine the prospects needs, you tailor the sales pitch. Unfortunately, personal selling is extremely expensive. As noted previously, door-to-door selling is disappearing in the area of consumer marketing. This is, however, not true in the area of business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Companies selling complex products such as printing presses, buses, jets, computer systems, power plants, and other expensive "installations" usually use salespeople to sell their products. These salespeople are compensated quite well and a large number of them are college graduates. When selling complex, costly products B2B (business-to-business), personal selling is extremely important. You need to develop a relationship with customers and may have to answer technical questions. A customer with a question can get an immediate response. Personal selling is also important where prices have to be negotiated and the sale involves a great deal of money. For example, when JetBlue executives decide to purchase 100 jets and want to talk to salespeople from Boeing, they expect negotiations will be extensive and that there will be several face-to-face meetings. The salesperson for Boeing will have a great deal of knowledge about jets and air travel and will expect to meet the JetBlue executives several times before the sale is closed. A key disadvantage of personal selling is that it is costly and you have to deal with customers one at a time. This is different from advertising where millions of people see the same ad. Advertising is mass selling, not personal selling. Personal selling is divided into three tasks: Order getting order getters attempt to increase their firms sales by selling to new customers or by convincing current customers to buy more of a companys products. They are important to a company because they develop new business and are therefore compensated quite well. Salespeople in computer stores or fancy clothing stores are often order getters. Their job is to convince the customer to purchase an expensive computer or a fancy outfit. They need to have persuasive abilities, and they generally receive commissions plus salary. It takes talent to convert prospects into customers and companies are willing to pay people who have this ability. Order getters understand the importance of focusing on benefits and not simply describing features of products. Order taking order takers are involved in the routine completion of sales. They complete the sales transaction and mainly deal with the same or similar customers. A sales clerk in a supermarket is an order taker. They are paid minimum wage and do not have to persuade anyone to buy anything. Example: In a fancy womens clothing store, the order getter convinces the customer to purchase some very expensive gowns. She will then take the customer with the

merchandise to the order taker who will complete the transaction and take care of such matters as payment, delivery, etc. A smart retailer does not want to waste an order getters valuable time with such routine and mundane matters as completing the order. Support Personnel Do not make any sales but help facilitate the selling function. There are two major types of support personnel: missionary salespeople and technical specialists. A missionary salesperson for a drug company (i.e., a detailer) will visit doctors and try to convince them to use various drugs manufactured by her company. They do not sell anything and often leave many free samples with the doctors. Technical specialists are necessary when very technical products are sold (e.g., advanced computers). They have the ability to explain how to use the product and its limitations. Some support personnel are sent to retailers to help them with displays and provide advice about promoting the product. The Personal Selling Process: Step 1: Prospecting and Qualifying Prospecting, the first step in the personal selling process focuses on developing a list of potential customers (prospects). Both internal (a companys own records) and external sources can be used to prospect. Many salespeople use the telephone to prospect. Some firms get names of prospects from list brokers. For instance, one firm that sells burglar alarms purchases a list of new home buyers. One good way of getting leads is by running a direct response ad in a magazine. For instance, Xerox might run an ad in a trade publication describing a new copying machine that can make one million color copies a month at a price of a few cents per copy. The ad will provide a toll-free number and offer a free brochure describing this machine. Anyone who calls will be asked a few critical questions (e.g., when do you expect to make a purchasing decision) and their name and the company name will be entered into a database. Qualifying deals with determining which prospects are most likely to purchase the product. In some firms, prospects are rated A, B, C, D, and F depending on the chance that they will purchase and the amount they might spend. In many firms, prospects that plan on buying the product within 3 months are classified as "hot leads." Step 2: Preapproach A good salesperson attempts to know his/her prospect well. You want to know something about the buyers company, the buyers specific product needs, and what brands are currently being used. The more you know about your prospects, the easier it is to sell to them. Knowing about a prospects needs also makes the salesperson more credible in the eyes of the buyer. Step 3: Approaching the Customer Cold calls are not the most effective way of approaching customers. Some salespeople spend a great deal of time canvassing an area trying to find prospects willing to listen to their spiel

without a prior appointment. This wastes a great deal of time since it may take hours to find an individual with the authority to make the purchase willing to listen to the sales pitch. Referrals (referred leads) are usually more effective than cold calls. Step 4: Presentation Step = Making the sales presentation During the presentation step, the salesperson has a vital job. The salesperson has to convert prospects into customers by creating a need and desire for the product or service. S/he has to tell the prospect theproduct story" and highlight the benefits of the product. You are familiar with the term USP (unique selling proposition) that is used in advertising. A good salesperson has to convince prospects that the product is special and will provide important benefits. Did you get a call from the college when you were a high school senior? If you did, what were you told that made you choose this college? Research indicates that students selecting a college are concerned with reputation and variety of programs to choose from. A good salesperson knows which attributes/benefits to stress in trying to convert the prospect into a customer. The attributes or benefits that should be stressed should be important to prospects. Three types of sales presentations: Prepared sales presentation The salesperson does almost all of the talking. Usually, the entire sales pitch is canned, i.e., the salesperson memorize what s/he has to say. This approach is used by many telemarketers who are trying to sell an inexpensive product ( e.g., home delivery of a paper or a warranty extension) and untrained people are used for this type of selling. The entire training consists of reading a script. This is a selling approach used by telemarketers that sell relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated products or services (e.g., home delivery of a newspaper). The telemarketers are not trained, other than being given a script to memorize, and have a very high turnover. The pay is quite low and high school students are often used. If you were ever called by a telemarketer trying to convince you to use a particular long distance service, you know what I am talking about. The telemarketers do virtually all the talking and have no interest in understanding (or satisfying) your needs. Need satisfaction approach The customer does most of the talking and the salesperson attempts to understand the customers needs. A problem solving approach is used. This approach is good for complicated and expensive products. Salespeople need extensive training for this approach. In fact, firms using the need satisfaction approach to selling may require a six-month training period for their salespeople. If you get a job as a salesperson for IBM or Xerox selling high-technology products, this is the approach that you will be taught. Selling formula approach This is in between the first two approaches. Salespeople are trained to use an approach similar to AIDA (Attention Interest Desire Action). The salesperson does most of the talking in the beginning of the selling pitch. Afterwards, the customer is brought

into the discussion to help clarify his/her needs. The training is not as extensive as with the need satisfaction approach. An important part of the preparation for the sales presentation involves Overcoming Objections. It is important to anticipate and prepare counterarguments for any objections that a prospect might have. For instance, if a prospect states that she likes the product but her firm cannot afford it, a possible counterargument could be that financing is available at very reasonable terms. Alternatively, the salesperson might note that the product actually saves the company money in the long run and is therefore quite reasonably priced. Step 5: Closing the Sale Here is where you are trying to get the order. The salesperson asks the prospect to buy the product. One common approach is to assume that the prospect does want to buy the product and to ask "when you do want delivery?" or "how many do you want?" Step 6: Follow-up A good salesperson follows up and ensures that everything went well. Was the product delivered on time? Is the customer satisfied? Any problems? By demonstrating that you care about your customers, you will increase the chances that customers will continue to buy from you and recommend you to others. Marketing is all about customer satisfaction and following up is necessary to determine whether or not your customers are satisfied. Compensating Salespeople Most firms use a combination of a fixed salary and a commission based on sales. Door-to-Door Personal Selling: Door-to-door selling to consumers is virtually obsolete. There was a time when vacuum cleaners, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, encyclopedias, aluminum siding, were sold by salespeople who went door-to-door. This is not a feasible way of selling most consumer products and is very costly. Few people are home nowadays (most women with children work) so many of the companies that sold products this way have changed their channel of distribution. Many use catalogs or use stores or websites to sell their products. Avon was a company that sold cosmetics door-to-door using salespeople. Many of the salespeople were women who did this part time and they used a selling formula approach. Today, you can shop online and use an Avon online representative and select personal delivery or free shipping. If you want to learn more about how Avon sells cosmetics, go to the Avon website at avon.com. They recruit for independent Avon sales representatives on their website. Tupperware is sold using a special kind of personal selling. A representative will make a Tupperware party. One can also make a Tupperware online party. Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing refers to a philosophy that a company that wishes to succeed should maintain a strong, continuous, long-term relationship with its customers, suppliers, and distributors. Companies that follow this philosophy understand the importance of communicating with their customers, suppliers, and distributors on a regular basis. In order to have this kind of relationship customers and intermediaries have to feel good about doing business with the company. Also, customers and intermediaries should find it easy to contact the company and feel welcome when communicating with it. They should feel that they are part of a big family and that the company is upset if the product or service fails to perform properly. Obviously, it is much easier to make customers and intermediaries feel this way if you strive to understand their needs.

Promotional Mix - Personal Selling Author: Jim Riley Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012 Personal selling is where businesses use people (the sales force) to sell the product after meeting face-to-face with the customer. The sellers promote the product through their attitude, appearance and specialist product knowledge. They aim to inform and encourage the customer to buy, or at least trial the product. A good example of personal selling is found in department stores on the perfume and cosmetic counters. A customer can get advice on how to apply the product and can try different products. Products with relatively high prices, or with complex features, are often sold using personal selling. Great examples include cars, office equipment (e.g. photocopiers) and many products that are sold by businesses to other industrial customers. The main advantages and disadvantages of personal selling can be summarized as follows: Advantages High customer attention Message is customized Interactivity Persuasive impact Potential for development of relationship Adaptable Opportunity to close the sale Disadvantages High cost Labour intensive Expensive Can only reach a limited number of customers

Point-of-sale merchandising can be said to be a specialist form of personal selling. POS merchandising involves face-to-face contact between sales representatives of producers and the retail trade. A merchandiser will visit a range of suitable retail premises in his/her area and encourage the retailer to stock products from a range. The visit also provides the opportunity for the merchandiser to check on stock levels and to check whether the product is being displayed optimally.

Value of Personal Selling Personal selling minimizes wasted effort, measures marketing ROI better than most tools, promotes sales, and boosts word of mouth marketing. Personal selling allows flexibility in presentation to generate sales. Since the effects of marketing are difficult to measure, personal selling gives insight into customer habits and responses to a particular marketing campaign or product offer. Sales people can tailor their presentations to fit the needs, motives, and behavior of individual customers. As sales people see the prospect's reaction to a sales approach, they can immediately adjust as needed. High cost is the primary disadvantage of personal selling. With increased competition, higher travel and lodging costs, and higher salaries, the cost per sales contract continues to increase.

Marketing Mix A business tool used in marketing products; often crucial when determining a product or brand's unique selling point. Often synonymous with the four Ps: price, product, promotion, and place. Personal selling aims to improve the interaction between the customer and the sales facility, and/or salesperson. (Figure 1) Since the effects of marketing are difficult to measure, personal selling gives insight into customer habits and responses to a particular marketing campaign or product offer. Advantages of Personal Selling The most significant strength of personal selling is its flexibility. Salespeople can tailor their presentations to fit the needs, motives, and behavior of individual customers. As sales people see the prospect's reaction to a sales approach, they can immediately adjust as needed. Personal selling also minimizes waste effort. Advertisers typically expend time and money to send a mass message about a product to many people outside the target market. In personal

selling, the sales force pinpoints the target market, makes a contact, and expends effort that has a strong probability of leading to a sale. Consequently, an additional strength of personal selling is that measuring effectiveness and determining the return on investment are far more straightforward for personal selling than for other marketing communication tools, where recall or attitude change is often the only measurable effect. The fourth benefit of personal selling is that a salesperson is in an excellent position to encourage the customer to act. The one-on-one interaction of personal selling means that a salesperson can effectively respond to and overcome objections (customers' concerns or reservations about the product) so that the customer is more likely to buy. Sales people can also offer many specific reasons to persuade a customer to buy, in contrast to the general reasons that an ad may urge customers to take immediate action. A final strength of personal selling is the multiple tasks the sales force can perform. For instance, in addition to selling, a sales person can collect payment service or repair products, return products, and collect product and marketing information. In fact, sales people are often best at disseminating negative and positive word-of-mouth product information. Disadvantages of Personal Selling High cost is the primary disadvantage of personal selling. With increased competition, higher travel and lodging costs, and higher salaries, the cost per sales contract continues to increase. Many companies try to control sales costs by compensating sales representatives based on commission only, thereby guaranteeing that salespeople get paid only if they generate sales. However, commission-only salespeople may become risk-averse and only call on clients who have the highest potential return. These sales people, then, may miss opportunities to develop a broad base of potential customers that could generate higher sales revenues in the long run. Companies can also reduce sales costs by using complementary techniques, such as telemarketing, direct mail, toll-free numbers for interested customers, and online communication with qualified prospects. Telemarketing and online communication can further reduce costs by serving as an actual selling vehicle. Both technologies can deliver sales messages, respond to questions, take payment, and follow up. A second disadvantage of personal selling is the problem of finding and retaining high quality people. First, experienced sales people sometimes realize that the only way their income can outpace their cost-of-living increase is to change jobs. Second, because of the push for profitability, businesses try to hire experienced salespeople away from competitors rather than hiring college graduates, who take three to five years to reach the level of productivity of more experienced salespeople. These two staffing issues have caused high turnover in many sales forces. Another weakness of personal selling is message inconsistency. Many salespeople view themselves as independent from the organization, so they design their own sales techniques,

use their own message strategies, and engage in questionable ploys to create a sale. Consequently, it is difficult to find a unified company or product message within a sales force, or between the sales force and the rest of the marketing mix. A final weakness is that sales force members have different levels of motivation. Sales people may vary in their willingness to make the desired sales calls each day; to make service calls that do not lead directly to sales; or to use new technology, such as a laptop, e-mail, or the company's Web site. Finally, overzealous sales representatives may tread a thin line between ethical and unethical sales techniques. The difference between a friendly lunch and commercial bribery is sometimes blurred.