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Personal Selling

Personal Selling

All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust." - Bob Burg.

The primary goal of any business is to generate sales and increase its profitability. The question is how it could achieve higher sales. The answer lies in building strong relationships with customers. Human psychology reveals that we engage in business and financial transactions with people we trust. This concept is effectively utilized through personal selling. In this article, we will discuss the importance of personal selling and its critical concepts.

Personal Selling Definition

When you hear the phrase personal selling, a picture of a pushy salesman might come to mind. It is not your fault, as salespeople are subjected to several negative stereotypes. Some think a salesperson could go to any length to complete a sale. Others think they only care about their benefits in terms of commissions and bonuses. These stereotypes about personal selling and the conduct of salespeople could not be more inaccurate.

Personal selling means establishing direct contact with existing and potential customers through a sales team. Its aim is not just to engage and convince customers to buy a product/service but also to build strong relationships with them.

Personal selling adds a personal touch to the sales process. The salesforce is usually well educated and trained to handle customers' queries and resolve their problems. They assess customers' needs and fulfill them by coordinating the company's efforts. The success of personal selling depends on the sales team's ability to forge strong and sustainable customer relationships.

Salespeople must also possess strong interpersonal skills and prioritize customers' needs above all else. These are key to building customer trust and eventually leading to a sale.

Personal selling Adds a personal touch to sales StudySmarterFig. 1 - Personal selling - adds a personal touch to sales

Personal Selling Advantages and Disadvantages

There are some advantages and disadvantages when implementing a personal selling strategy.

Personal selling advantages

First, let's talk about its plus points. Here are five main advantages of personal selling:

  • Bilateral communication – Personal selling is two-way communication. The salesman and the customer have to talk and discuss every aspect of the product or service before completing the sale.

  • Customer's trust – When communicating with customers, a salesperson can foster the trust factor between them. The key is to listen to the concerns or queries of the customers and provide them with information that would help put those concerns to rest. By the end of this process, a salesperson will likely win over the customers' trust.

  • Personalized solutions – Salespeople could assess the needs of individual customers and provide them with unique deals or solutions. This can contribute to a more positive experience.

  • Higher flexibility – Salesmen control the flow of communication in personal selling. Therefore, they can be flexible in their approach and change the marketing message accordingly. It offers them more control and improves their chances of making a successful sale.

  • Instant feedback – Customers can provide instant feedback to the salesman in personal selling. They can inform the sales team about their experiences using the product/service and any issues they might have encountered during the process. It eventually helps the company to improve its sales activities.

Personal selling disadvantages

That said, personal selling is not without its disadvantages. Here are some challenges when implementing personal selling:

  • Training costs – Having a well-trained sales team comes with its costs. Companies spend huge amounts of money on training their sales teams. Training equipment, travel expenses, and health care benefits are some costs associated with training a sales team.

  • No quick results – Training the sales team to implement the sales strategy could take a lot of time. There are no shortcuts to getting quick results. It is a process that needs time to provide the results the company desires.

  • Negative image – As mentioned earlier, there are many negative stereotypes regarding the image of salespeople. Some customers avoid personal selling because they do not want to face a pushy and aggressive salesman breathing on their necks to complete the sale.

  • High turnover – The employee turnover rate is high in personal selling. Salespeople tend to change companies quickly, chasing better pay and commissions. It disrupts the sales activities of companies as they would need to hire and train new salespeople.

Direct Marketing vs. Personal Selling

Direct marketing and personal selling are both techniques to sell products or services to customers. However, both techniques differ in terms of audience reach, costs, and objectives (See Table 1).

Direct marketing is a type of marketing where a company communicates directly with the customers to sell its product/services.

Direct marketing Personal selling
To sell products/services and to inform customers directly. To sell products/services and to inform customers through the sales team.
It is used to sell less complex products/services. It is used to sell complex products/services.
It has a massive reach. It has a limited reach.
It allows less personalization. It allows more personalization.
It is a more aggressive form of sales technique. It is not an aggressive form of sales technique.
The focus is on informing the customers about a good offerThe focus is on developing strong customer relationships.
Text messages campaigns and database marketing are examples of direct marketing. A salesman selling a product is an example of personal selling.

Table 1. Direct marketing vs. Personal selling

Types of Personal Selling

There are three main types of personal selling. Companies could use one or all of them based on sales activities. It is decided in the sales strategy what type of personal selling is ideal for improving sales performance:

  • Order creator – In this type of personal selling, the task of salespeople is to create orders. They give customers information about products and services and try to create needs for those products/services. They do not sell products themselves but initiate a process that eventually leads to sales.

  • Order getter – In this type of personal selling, companies employ the services of frontline salespeople to bring in new customers. salesmen'sen's job is to convince the customers and assist them in making a purchase.

  • Order taker – This type of personal selling involves handling requests and queries. Customers contact the salespeople and inform them about their needs or problems. The salespeople give them information about the products/services that could fulfill their needs or solve their problems. The main task is to take orders from the customers.

Personal Selling Examples

There are many examples of personal selling in our daily lives. From a departmental store employee to street vendors, we see the use of personal selling in marketing and sales. Here are a couple of examples of personal selling:

Personal selling example: The sales rep in tech stores

The sales representatives in tech stores help customers in making purchase decisions. They listen to queries, provide information, and assist customers. They ask customers questions about their price range and desired specifications, and suggest a product that fulfills their requirements.

Personal selling Sales reps in tech store StudySmarterFig. 2 - Sales reps and customers in an Apple store

Personal selling example: Door-to-door sales

One of the common examples of personal selling is door-to-door sales. The salespeople knock on the doors of potential customers to advertise and sell the products/services. They try to convince the customers to buy from them with their strong interpersonal skills. In many cases, they give free product demos to eliminate customers' doubts.

Personal selling door-to-door example StudySmarterFig. 3 - Door-to-door salesmen

Personal Selling - Key takeaways

  • Personal selling is about adding a personal touch to the sales.
  • The success of personal selling depends on the salesperson's ability to forge strong and sustainable customer relationships.
  • Direct marketing and personal selling methods differ in reach, costs, and objectives.
  • Bilateral communication is one of the top advantages of personal selling.

Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Selling

Personal selling means establishing direct contact with existing and potential customers through a sales team. Its aim is not just to engage and convince customers to buy a product/service but also to build strong relationships with them.  

The b2b sales are based on personal selling because the company wants to forge strong relations with its clients. It understands the specific needs of clients and provides customised solutions. 

Personal selling adds value by establishing a relationship with the customers based on trust. Salesmen listen to their problems and provide meaningful solutions. 

Two-way communication, personalised solutions, and higher flexibility are some of the advantages that personal selling offer over advertising. 

Relationship development, solution-driven approach, interpersonal skills, and prioritizing customer needs are the characteristics of personal selling. 

Final Personal Selling Quiz

Question

What is the stereotype related to personal selling/ salesmen? 

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Answer

Push salesman

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Question

Define personal selling. 

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Answer

Personal selling means establishing direct contact with existing and potential customers through a sales team. Its aim is not just to engage and convince customers to buy a product/service but also to build strong relationships with them. 

Show question

Question

Personal selling is about adding a ______ to the sales.

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Answer

personal touch

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Question

Salesmen assess the needs of customers and fulfill those needs by coordinating the company’s efforts. 

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

The success of personal selling depends on the sales team’s ability to forge strong and sustainable _______.

Show answer

Answer

Customer relationships

Show question

Question

Salesmen must have strong interpersonal skills and they must prioritize the needs of customers over other things. 

Show answer

Answer

True 

Show question

Question

What is bilateral communication? 

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Answer

It means a two-way communication

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Question

How can a salesman win over a customer's trust? 

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Answer

By listening to the concerns or queries of the customers and providing them with information

Show question

Question

What does personalised solution mean? 

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Answer

It means providing solutions to specific problems. 

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Question

 Salesmen control the flow of communication in personal selling.

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Answer

True

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Question

 In personal selling, customers can provide instant feedback to the salesman.

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

Define direct marketing 

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Answer

Direct marketing is a type of marketing where a company wants to have direct communication with the customers to sell its product/services.. 

Show question

Question

What is the difference between personal selling and direct marketing? 

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Answer

Direct marketing offers wider reach, and less customisation whereas personal selling offers limited reach and more customisation. 

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Question

Name three types of personal selling. 

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Answer

Order creator, order getter, and order taker. 

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Question

What is the role of an order getter? 

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Answer

In this type of personal selling, companies employ the services of frontline salesmen to bring in new customers. The salesmen's job is to convince the customers and assist them in making a purchase. 

Show question

Question

What is meant by lead qualification?

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Answer

Lead qualification means choosing the right lead to contact and approach with a sales pitch.

Show question

Question

Personal selling is a __________ selling technique.

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Answer

One-on-one

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Question

Personal selling is when the salesperson interacts _______ with the customers to sell a product or service.

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Answer

indirectly

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Question

The salesperson's interpersonal skills have a big impact on the outcome of the personal selling process. 

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Answer

True

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Question

What is a lead in marketing?


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Answer

A lead is a person or an organisation interested in the product you're selling. 

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Question

What is the first step in the personal selling process?

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Answer

Prospecting

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Question

Closing is the final stage of the personal selling process. 

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Answer

True

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Question

Prospecting means making first contact with the customer.

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Answer

True

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Question

Which stage involves presenting the sales idea to the customer?

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Answer

Follow-up

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Question

What does AIDA stand for?


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Answer

Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

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Question

Follow-up takes place before closing in the personal selling process. 

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Answer

True

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Question

Choosing the right lead can help the company save _________.

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Answer

time and marketing effort. 

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Question

The face-to-face interaction in the personal selling process can take place both online and offline. 

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Answer

True

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Question

Three keys that ensure the success of personal selling are: 

  • __________
  • __________
  • __________

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Answer

  • Choose the right leads
  • Create customer value
  • Use stories

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Question

_______ means bringing the negotiation to an end and coming to an agreement. 

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Answer

Follow-up

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Question

What is not a step of personal selling?

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Answer

Handling objections

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Question

What is the main task of prospecting?

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Answer

lead qualification

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Question

Define salesforce. 

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Answer

A company's sales force comprises employees who engage, convince, and sell the products or services to the customers.

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Question

Who are the protagonists of sales activity? 

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Answer

Salesforce

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Question

Salesforce is the eyes and ears of a company. Why? 

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Answer

They get in direct contact with the customers. They know the pulse of customers and could assist the companies in adjusting their offerings accordingly. 

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Question

The sales force's job is to make a complex buying process easier for the customers.   

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Answer

True

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Question

Sales force promotion is a technique to enhance the sales team's motivation in promoting and selling the company's product

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Answer

True

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Question

The ______ is the link that brings a company in contact with its customers.

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Answer

Salesforce

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Question

Is it true that a salesforce represents the interests of a company and its customers? 

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Answer

Yes

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Question

Salesforce engages the customers by listening to their needs and then offering them customized solutions.

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Answer

True

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Question

What is a customized solution? 

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Answer

A customized solution means identifying the specific needs or problems of customers and providing them with tailored solutions. 

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Question

Why forging strong customer relationships are important for a salesforce? 

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Answer

It is important because strong customer relationships mean that the customers trust the salesforce and would likely buy frequently. 

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Question

Why customer feedback is important for a company? 

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Answer

Customer feedback is important because it helps in optimizing the processes such as sales and marketing

Show question

Question

Sales force promotion techniques can improve the communication flows and how the salespeople deliver customer value.

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Answer

True

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Question

Name the three types of salesforce structures. 

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Answer

Location-based, product-based, and client-based structures. 

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Question

When does a company use a location-based structure? 

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Answer

When a company sells a single product line to customers in different locations, it uses a location-based salesforce structure. 

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Question

Name the types of the salesforce in marketing. 

Show answer

Answer

Outside salesforce and inside salesforce. 

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