Salesmanship is not just selling i.e., transferring the ownership of goods in exchange for money. It is the process of persuading the prospective customers to buy the goods or services which they really need. In other words, salesmanship is not just the act of satisfying the demand for a product that exists already. It is the process of creating a demand by guiding the consumers in the proper selection of goods.
Again, true salesmanship is not creating demand for a product by high-pressure tactics or by playing on the ignorance or weakness of the customers. Such an act is not only unethical, but also harmful to the concern in the long run. True salesmanship is the act of creating demand by convincing the people, through factual arguments and making them buy what they really need.
Various discussion on Salesmanship
Is Salesmanship an Art or Science?
An art is the process of producing results by the exercise of skill. Salesmanship involves inducing the people to buy what they want. It is the process of increasing the sale of goods by the exercise of skill by the salesman. So, salesmanship can be considered an art.
A science is a systematized body of knowledge. It has its own set of principles and they are universally accepted. Salesmanship is a specialized knowledge that has its own rules or principles. A successful salesman is required to know the rules or principles of salesmanship.
Salesmanship involves a systematic or scientific approach to selling. So, one can say that salesmanship is a science. But it is not a pure science as physics, chemistry or mathematics. It is only a social science, based on human psychology. To conclude, salesmanship is not only an art, but also a science.
Salesmanship as a Profession
A job or an occupation can be called a profession only if it satisfies the following requirements—
1. It requires an organized body of knowledge.
2. It requires a certain degree of skill.
3. It needs systematic preparation for a relatively long period before taking up the job.
4. It implies a certain amount of specialization of work.
5. It involves a well-organized programme for imparting training to those who intend to take up the profession.
6. The persons desirous of taking up a profession are examined by the public body.
7. There is an established and accepted code of ethics to be followed by the members of the profession.
8. There should be the motto of service before self.
Now, let us consider how far salesmanship satisfies the above criteria and ascertain whether it can be considered a profession.
Salesmanship does need an organized body of knowledge. It also requires certain degree of skill or talent. There are specialized institutions offering courses in salesmanship. Salesmanship does have certain ethical standards. Service is the primary motto of salesmanship. So, we can conclude that salesmanship can be regarded as a profession, even though not as high as medicine, engineering, law, accounting, audit and business management professions.
Is Salesmanship Productive?
It is argued by some critics that salesmanship is unproductive in the modern capitalist system. Let us critically analyse this argument and see for ourselves. To answer the question, we must know as to when an economic activity becomes productive, and when it becomes unproductive. An economic activity becomes productive, if
1. It reduces the cost of marketing,
2 .It reduces the cost of production.
3. It increases the utility of the product or service.
4. It produces more effective results in proportion to its cost.
5. It contributes to social welfare or well-being.
Now, let us consider whether salesmanship satisfies these conditions and whether it can be considered productive or not.
1. Salesmanship is capable of reducing the cost of marketing. Through salesmanship, producers and dealers know as to where the products should be sold and when. This avoids dumping of goods in places where there is no demand. As a result, the cost of marketing comes down. Further, by contributing to increased sales, effective salesmanship brings about reduction in the marketing cost per unit.
2 Effective salesmanship contributes to increased sales. Increased sales lead to large-scale production. The increased production results in lower cost per unit.
3. Salesmanship always creates more uses for the products. Increased uses of the products denote increase in the utility of the products. So, salesmanship does increase the utility of the products.
4. Effective and successful salesmanship definitely results in benefits which are more than the costs of salesmanship, that is why companies employ salesmen.
5. Salesmanship contributes to social welfare in many ways. First, it brings about increase in the production of goods for the consumption of the society. Secondly, it brings about rise in economic activities, level of employment and income of the people. Thirdly, it raises the standard of living of the people by converting the luxuries and comforts of yesterday into necessities of today. So, salesmanship is definitely productive.
Conditions Under which Salesmanship Works Best
There are certain conditions under which a firm thrives on effective salesmanship. They are—
1. Where there is a relatively small potential market for a product or service.
2. Where a product is complex, and highly technical, such as machinery and cannot be adequately presented by means of advertising or sales promotion.
3. Where the product is of a high unit value.
4. Where the product must be tailored (made for a particular purpose) to suit the individual needs of a customer.
5. Where the presence of a salesman helps to inspire a customer’s confidence and thus improve the possibility of a sale.
6. Where a company does not have enough financial resources to carry on an advertising programme.
Differences between Selling and Salesmanship
Salesmanship is, no doubt, a technique of selling goods or a service or an idea. But it is different from selling. There are many differences between selling and salesmanship. They are:
1. Selling is the mere transfer of the ownership of goods or services in exchange for money. On the other hand, salesmanship is the process of presenting the goods to the prospects. convincing them with the desirability of the goods and persuading them to buy the goods and also guiding them in the proper selection of the goods. So, the scope of salesmanship is much wider than that of selling.
2. Selling is a much easier job, whereas salesmanship is a highly difficult task.
3. Selling does not require much skill on the part of salesman. But salesmanship requires much skill on the part of the salesman. Salesmanship can be performed effectively only by a skilled and well-trained salesman.
4. Selling results in mere cash sales. But salesmanship creates satisfied and regular customers for the business.
5. Selling begins with the demand for goods by the buyers. But salesmanship begins with the creation of demand for products.
6. Selling ends with the sale or passing of the ownership of goods. But salesmanship does not end there. Salesmanship is a continuous process.
Criticisms against Salesmanship
It is true that salesmanship is very helpful to different sections of the society. But it is not free from criticism. The various criticisms against salesmanship are:
1. Consumers are pressurized to buy things
One of the criticisms against salesmanship is that consumers are pressurized to buy things which they do not really need or buy things which are beyond their means. No doubt, there is an element of truth in this criticism. Sometimes, consumers are brought into the trap by salesmen by adapting high pressure tactics. But this is not completely true.
As stated earlier, high-pressure salesmanship is not salesmanship at all. True salesmanship lies in not inducing the customers to buy what they do not need. It is actually inducing and helping the people to buy what they really need.
2. Salesmanship increases the cost of marketing
Another criticism against salesmanship is that it increases the cost of marketing. It is true that salesmanship involves marketing costs. But, salesmanship, by confining its appeal only to a selected group of prospective customers reduces the cost of marketing.
3. Salesmanship is unproductive
Another serious criticism against salesmanship is that it is unproductive. This criticism holds good only when salesmanship fails to yield the desired results. On the other hand, salesmanship is effective and successful and brings about reduction in marketing and production costs, reduction in selling prices, increase in economic activities, rise in employment level and helps the customers in the proper selection of goods. In view of all these benefits, salesmanship cannot be considered unproductive.
4. Salesmanship is unnecessary
Yet another criticism against salesmanship is that it is an unnecessary, superfluous and wasteful adjunct of modern capitalist economy. This criticism is based on the age old idea that whatever is produced will be ultimately sold, and so salesmanship is not necessary. This might have been true in the pre-industrial revolution days. But, in today’s business world, where there is buyers’ market, salesmanship is absolutely necessary.
On a careful examination of the criticisms against salesmanship and our answers to these criticisms, one can conclude that most of the criticisms against salesmanship do not hold good. Further, salesmanship offers benefits to the various sections of the society. So it is quite essential in the modern business world.