7 Important stages in personal selling process

The personal selling process consists of a series of steps. Each stage of the process should be undertaken by the salesperson with utmost care. The stages in personal selling are briefly explained below.

1. Prospecting and qualifying: ‘Prospecting and qualifying’ are the first steps the personal selling process. This is to identify and qualify prospects in order to help sales people in the process of selling. Companies generate leads in the following ways:

  1. searching names by examining data sources such as newspapers, directories, CD-ROMs etc.
  2. establishing a booth at trade shows and exhibitions
  3. getting the names of the prospects from existing customers
  4. cultivating referral sources such as dealers, suppliers, sales reps, executives, bankers etc.
  5. Getting the names of the prospects from organizations and associations
  6. Using the telephone, mail and the internet to find leads.

2. Pre-approach: Having found out the prospective customers, the salesperson should collect some important details about the prospects. For example, if the prospect is a company, then he should know what the company needs, who takes purchase decisions and who are its buyers.

After knowing the important particulars about the prospects, the salesperson should set call objectives. The salesperson should qualify the prospect, collect information and make an immediate sale. He should also decide on the best approach which may be a personal visit, a phone call or a letter. Besides he should also decide on the timing of approach, based on the convenience of the prospects.

3. Approach: The salesperson should properly approach the prospects. He should know how to greet the buyer before starting his conversation. The salesperson should be properly dressed which coincides with the temperament of the buyer. The opening line should be positive.

For example, “Mr. Jacob, I am Rahim from Jeevan Company. My company and I appreciate your willingness to see me. I will do my best to make this visit profitable for you”. The opening line must pay importance to the buyer’s needs.

4. Presentation and demonstration: The sales presentation should be based on AIDA formula.In other words, the presentation should gain attention, ho!d interest, arouse desire and obtain the action of the buyer. Moreover, the salesperson should adopt FABV approach. This is a “features, advantages, benefits and value” approach. Features narrate physical characteristics of a market. Advantages describe why the features provide an advantage to the customer. Benefits explain the economic, technical aspects and social benefits delivered by the offering. Finally, value describes the overall worth in terms of money.

Sales presentation varies in style. There are three styles of sales presentation, namely,

  1. canned approach,
  2. formulated approach and
  3. need-satisfaction approach.

Canned approach is memorized sales talk covering the main points while formulated approach identifies the buyer’s needs and buying style and then uses an appropriate approach. The need-satisfaction approach starts with a search for customer’s real needs. It encourages the customer to talk of his own needs.

5. Overcoming objections: Customers when pressed for orders, voice their objections known as customer’s resistance. The resistance of the customers may either be psychological or logical. Psychological resistance includes resistance to interference, giving importance for well established brands, apathy, impatience, reluctance to participate in the talk, unpleasant situation created by the salesperson, aversion towards decision making, etc.

Logical resistance is based on some reasons associated with price, delivery schedule; product or company characteristics, etc. Salesperson should overcome these objections by adopting a positive approach. He must convert the objections into reasons for buying. Handling and overcoming objections are the most important part of sales process.

6. Closing the sale: A goods sales talk results in clinching a sale. At this juncture, the salesperson closes the sale at the right moment. A salesperson can successfully close the sale by studying the body language and the statements made by the buyers. They can ask for the order by drawing the attention of the customers towards colour, size or type of the product. If the buyers remain undecided, they may be guided in making the choice of the product.

7. Follow-up and maintenance: Immediately after closing the sale, the salesperson should take some follow up measures. He may give details about delivery time, purchase terms and mode of payment of price, etc. The salesperson can ensure customer satisfaction by properly attending matters which are important to the customers. Thus, follow up is necessary if the salesperson wants to ensure repeat purchase.