A Promotional activity by which the consumers are personally encouraged and convinced to buy the goods and services of a manufacturer is called personal selling. While in the case of advertising there is non-personal presentation of goods and services, in the case of personal selling there is personal presentation.
In Personal Selling, the salesman will call on every potential buyer personally, show him the product, convince him and even persuade him to buy. Thus, there is two-way communication in personal selling.
Definition of Personal Selling
The American Marketing Association has defined the term ‘Personal Selling’ as
the personal process of assisting and/or persuading a prospective customer to buy a commodity or service and to act favorably upon an idea that has commercial significance to the seller.
The above definition points out the need to persuade the buyer to buy.
Basic characteristics of personal selling
1. Personal selling lays emphasis on personal contact between the prospective buyer and the seller or his representative.
2. It requires the buyer to be induced and persuaded to buy.
3. Personal selling is an art. The salesman has to actually sell the product idea before selling the product. This requires skill.
4. It offers scope to impart product knowledge to the prospective buyers.
5. Personal selling provides an opportunity to develop bondage between the buyers and the business.
Importance of Personal Selling
1. New products can be introduced in the market through personal selling.
2. Personal selling is required to sell high-priced consumer durables like television, refrigerator, etc.
3. Personal selling is absolutely necessary to sell products like computers that require technical knowledge.
4. Personal selling is essential to sell anything that requires persuasion of the buyers, e.g., Insurance.
5. Personal selling becomes necessary for a firm to achieve quick sales.
6. It also helps to obtain necessary information about the market and pass on the same to the producer.
Arguments against personal selling
1. Personal selling forces buyers to buy goods they may not actually require.
2. In most cases, the salesman earns the ill-will rather than the goodwill of the buyer.
3. The success of personal selling depends much on the capabilities of the salesman. If the salesman is incapable, he may not be able to sell even a very good product.
4. There is also a feeling that salesmen are required to sell a not so good product.
5. Most people feel that the salesmen hardly speak the truth. The salesmen are always desperate and their only aim is to somehow sell.
Steps involved in Personal Selling
1. Identifying the buyers
The first step in personal selling is to identify the potential buyer. The salesman cannot call on any buyer at random for different types of goods. Products like toothpaste, soap or hair-oil can be offered to anybody. But there are certain products which can be offered to certain buyers only.
Products like television, fridge, etc., can be offered only to those who are affluent. There are still certain other products like computer, air-conditioner, etc., that are desired only by a few even within the affluent group. Thus, the main task of the salesman is to identify correctly the potential buyers.
2. Approaching the buyers
Having identified the potential buyers, the next step is to approach them. The salesman has to adopt a planned approach in contacting the buyers. He is wrong if he thinks that he can call on any buyer at any time as per his own will and wish.
The salesman has to first of all find out the convenience of the buyer and fix up an appointment with him. This is particularly necessary if the salesman is selling intangibles like insurance or expensive goods like vacuum cleaner, personal computer, etc.
3. Overcoming objections
During the discussion with the prospective buyer, the salesman is sure to receive certain objections from the former. The salesman should never be under the impression that the buyer will accept all that he says even if what he says is true. The buyer may have his own ideas and may not accept all the claims of the salesman.
The salesman shall not speak in a manner to provoke the buyer. In fact, in the course of the discussion, even if the buyer gets provoked, the salesman has to keep his cool and diplomatically overcome the objections raised by the buyer.
4. Closing the sale
Once the buyer is convinced of the product or service, he is going to give his consent. The success of personal selling lies in the ability of the salesman to get the buyer’s consent. Not every salesman has the ability to complete the deal successfully. Only those salesmen who have the skill, knowledge and courage will be able to do the work fruitfully.
Personal Selling Methods
Any one of the following selling methods may be used in personal selling, depending upon characteristics of a product or buyer.
1. Tender Selling
The buyer may invite open tenders through newspapers and a company is required to submit their offers with price, terms of payment and delivery period, etc.
Generally, in all Government purchase, sealed tenders are invited and are opened on a particular prefixed date and time and orders may be granted to the lowest bidder. Sometimes, purchaser may negotiate bids and finalize order with a company which may not be the lowest bidder. The role of a salesman will be quite useful in such negotiations.
2. Selling through discussions
In large companies, orders are finalized following discussions, at the purchaser’s place. The order is generally issued after verifying seller’s performance, reliability and after sales service.
Generally, private sector companies choose this route as this is faster and many problems and clarifications could be thrashed out across the table through informal and formal discussions.
3. Door to Door selling
In this method, company’s salesman visits prospective buyers to explore the possibilities of selling. This method is generally used for household products and for new product introduction.
This method of selling is highly useful in rural, semi urban and even in cities. In India, consumer products like soaps, shampoo, sarees are sold regularly through door to door selling.
4. Over the Counter selling (OTC selling)
In this method, in all retail outlets, the salesmen sell a company’s products exclusively and this method is used for all consumer goods. In India and in many Asian countries, this method employs highest number of salespersons.
Indian companies like Reliance (Only Vimal Showrooms), Bata, Philips, BPL, Sony, Asian Paints, Zodiac Gwalior Rayon, Bombay Dyeing, Mafatlal, Pierre Cardin sell whole lot of products ranging from suiting materials, textiles, ready made garments, shoes, colour television, audio-video electronic products, paints and food products through this method.