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Personal selling is the process of selling goods and services directly to customers. Personal selling is far more significant than other forms of promotion as it allows the salesperson to describe the product in detail to the customer in person. Personal selling is therefore a highly interactive tool of promotion and is best suited for products or services that are complex in nature.
Sales management has to differentiate between these two selling jobs for the company to be successful. The objectives of the sales force are of two kinds, qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative objectives relate to the methods of sales force operations while quantitative objectives are the measurable actions of the sales force. The sales force strategies of a company fall into two categories - strategies for gaining market access and account relationship strategies. Market access can be gained by using distributors, telemarketing, independent sales agents, the Internet, developing hybrid marketing systems and by establishing strategic alliances.
Account relationship strategy deals with ways to manage sales accounts in an organizational set-up and individual sales accounts. It is essential for the sales force to develop and manage long-term customer relationships. This is especially important in the case of an industrial sales force, because there is a continuous transaction between the sales person and the customer here. The customer buys the same type of products from the sales person at frequent intervals of time. Maintaining strong relationships with customers will definitely boost repeat purchases.
Offering discounts occasionally will significantly improve the chances of repeat purchases. The theories of personal selling include the AIDAS theory, the buying formula theory of selling, the behavioural equation theory and the right set of circumstances theory. AIDAS is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action and Satisfaction. This theory states that a prospective customer's mind passes through these five stages before he makes the actual purchase. The buying formula theory states that the purchase process is characterized by a psychological sequence of events that take place in the prospect's mind.
The sequence of events includes need recognition - solution - purchase - satisfaction. The behavioral equation theory says that decision making by a customer comprises stages of the learning process and consists of drives, cues, response and reinforcement. The right set of circumstances theory is based on the assumption that creating the right set of circumstances will make the buyer respond positively and will result in a sale. Further, in order to develop and maintain account relationships, a salesperson can adopt any of three approaches - stimulus response approach, need satisfaction approach or problem situation approach.
The selling process consists of a series of seven steps - prospecting, pre-approach, approach, sales presentation, handling objections/sales resistance, close and post sales follow-up. Companies should devote significant attention to customer satisfaction, so that customers remain loyal to the company for a long time. Some critical customer related issues in personal selling include understanding types of customers through different styles of selling, finding customers, researching customers, communicating effectively, providing customer service and finally, creating customer satisfaction.
Over the years, sales personnel are being increasingly exposed to a number of advanced technology tools. Today, salespeople have a number of tools and techniques available to them that have made their jobs easier, and at the same time challenging. Sales force automation tools have made it possible for sales representatives to remain connected to their office and with their customers at all times. Connectivity not only provides the sales force with a competitive edge in selling but also improves their effectiveness and productivity.
Buyer Seller Dyads
Types of Selling Jobs
Sales Force Objectives
Sales Force Strategies
Market Access Strategies
Account Relationship Strategy
Theories of Personal Selling
Buying Formula Theory of Selling
Behavioral Equation Theory
Right Set of circumstances theory
Approaches to personal selling
Stimulus Response Approach
Need Satisfaction Approach
Problem Situation Approach
Personal selling process
Customer related issues in personal selling
Understanding customer types through different selling styles
Providing customer service
Creating customer satisfaction
Automation in personal selling
Benefits of sales force automation