Personal selling – Principles of Marketing

advantages and disadvantages of personal selling

Personal selling

Personal selling: are personal presentations by the firm’s sales force for the purpose of making sales and building customer relationships.

A salesperson is an individual representing a company to customers by performing one or more of the following activities: prospecting, communicating, selling, services, information gathering and relationship building. Personal selling is an interpersonal part of the promotion mix. The sales force is a link between the company and its customers. Sales people represent the company to customers, but at the same time they represent customers to a particular company. The sales force should work closely with other marketing functions in order to create value for its customers, but often sales and marketing are approached as different functions.

Sales force management means analysing, planning, implementing and controlling sales force activities. There are six major steps in the sales force management process:

1.     Designing the sales force strategy.
The sales force structure can have different shapes.

A territorial sales force structure is a sales force organisation that assigns each salesperson to an exclusive geographic territory in which that salesperson sells the company’s full line. Territory sales representatives report to territory managers, who are under the supervision of regional managers, who in turn report to a director of sales.

A product sales force structure is a sales force organisation in which salespersons specialise in selling only a portion of the company’s products or lines. This might lead to trouble when customers buy multiple products of the same company and could lead to double work.

A customer or market sales force structure is a sales force organisation in which salespeople specialise in selling only to certain customers or industries. This can help a company build closer relationships with meaningful customers.

Finally combinations of sales force structures are possible, leading to complex structures. Once the structure is set, the sales force size must be determined.

This can be done by the workload approach, where the number or salespersons are based on the amount of effort desired for different classes of work. Sales management must also determine who will be involved in the sales force.

Outside sales force (field sales force) are salespeople who travel to call on customers in the field.

Inside sales force are salespeople who conduct business from their offices via telephone, the Internet or visits from prospective buyers.

Team selling means using a team of people from sales, marketing, engineering, finance, technical support an even upper management to service large, complex accounts.

2.     Recruiting salespeople.
The success of a sales force operations depends on the skills of salespeople. Good sales people are motivated, disciplined, have skills and knowledge and a great understanding of customer needs.

3.     Training salespeople
Most companies provide continuous sales training. Training programmes teach salespeople what they need to know about their customers and give them the necessary skills.

4.     Compensating salespeople
To attract good salespeople, they need to be compensated. Compensation can consist of four elements: a fixed amount, a variable amount, expenses and fringe benefits.

5.     Supervising salespeople
The goal of supervision is to help salespeople work smart, by doing the right things the right way. Motivation helps salespeople to work hard to reach the sales force goals. Supervising salespeople can be done by period call plans and time-and-duty analysis.

Sales 2.0 is the merging of innovative sales practices within Web 2.0 technologies to improve sales force effectiveness and efficiency. Beyond directing, sales managers must also motivate salespeople.

Sales quota are standards that state the amount a salesperson should sell and how sales should be divided among the company’s products. Organisational climate describes the feeling salespeople have about their opportunities and rewards. Sales meetings provide occasions to air feelings.

6.     Evaluating salespeople
The last step in the process is evaluating the salespeople. Information can be gathered in different ways: via sales reports call reports and expense reports.

The selling process are the steps that salespeople follow when selling, which include prospecting and qualifying, pre-approaching, presenting an demonstrating, handling objections, closing and following up.

  1. Prospecting: a salesperson or company identifies qualified potential customers.
  2. Pre-approaching: a salesperson learns as much as possible about a prospective customer before making a sales call.
  3. Approaching: a salesperson meets the customer for the first time.
  4. Presenting: a salesperson tells the “value story” to the buyers, showing how the company’s offer solves the customer’s problems.
  5. Handling objections: a salesperson seeks out, clarifies and overcomes any customer objections to buying.
  6. Closing: a salesperson asks the customer for an order.
  7. Following up: a salesperson follows up after the sale to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business.

The steps in the selling process can be described as transaction oriented. But in most cases, the long-term goals are to develop a profitable relationship.

Sales promotion: short-term incentives to encourage the purchase or sale of product or service. Sales promotions tools are used by most companies and can be consumer promotions, trade promotions, business promotions and sales force promotions. Sales promotion objectives can vary widely and are used together with other promotion mix tools.

Consumer promotions are sales promotion tools used to boost short-term customer buying and involvement or enhance long-term customer relationships. These can be samples (trial products), coupons (saving certificates), cash refunds, price packs (money-off deals), or premiums (goods offered at low cost). But also promotional products, point-of-sales (POS) promotions (displays and demonstrations) and contests and games are sales promotion tools. Event marketing (event sponsorship) means creating a brand-marketing event or serving as a sole or participating sponsor of events created by others.

Trade promotions are sales promotion tools used to persuade resellers to carry a brand, give it shelf space, promote it in advertising and push it to consumers. Business promotions are sales promotion tools used to generate business leads, stimulate purchases, reward customers and motivate salespeople.

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