Sales & Distribution Mngmt - Personal Selling


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Personal selling can be termed as the oral presentation given by the salesperson to one or more than one consumers face to face to sell the product or service. Personal selling is a highly peculiar form of promotion. It is mostly two-way communication, which not only involves a particular individual but also social behavior.

The intention is to deliver the right product to the right customers. Depending upon the complexity of product, personal selling plays an important role. Industries manufacturing technical products like laptops, computers, digital phone, gadgets, etc., likely depend on personal selling as compared to the other manufactures.

The reason behind this is to explain the features of the product, tackle the customer queries and provide the best customer service. The competition in the market has increased today and therefore the importance of the salesperson in the organization.

Salespersons are also called salesman or salesgirl or sales representative and their payment is made as the commission to push the product in the market by motivating the customer through oral conversation.

The consumer wants all kinds of goods and services in the market but lack of interest keeps them away from making decisions or purchasing products. This is where the salesman needs to act as a catalyst and explain the product or service to the customer. He/she should motivate the customer by giving a presentation and he may sometimes act as a consultant. This helps the consumer to make a decision.

In case of technical products, the salesperson plays a more vital role as compared to the promotions. It becomes difficult for the customers to make decision while purchasing high value products with complex nature. The salesperson helps the customers by making personal contact with them and making them understand the quality and utility of the product.

Objectives of Personal Selling

Personal selling contributes in achieving the long-term objectives for the organization.

The following are some of the objectives of personal selling −

  • To do the complete selling job when there are no other components in promotional mix
  • To provide service to the existing customers and try to maintain contacts with the present customers
  • Identify and find new prospective customers
  • Promote the products to increase sales
  • Provide the information to the customers regarding the change in product line
  • Provide assistance to the customers to help in decision-making
  • Provide technical advice to customers for complex products
  • Gather the data in relation to market and provide it to company’s management

The reason behind setting personal selling objectives is to make decision on sales policies and personal selling strategies, which helps in promoting the product. The objectives are set for long-term, as it becomes the important element for qualitative personal selling objectives.

The objectives can also be quantitative if they are short-term and it could be adjusted from one promotional period to another. The quantitative personal selling objective is related to sales volume objective. Hence, the sales volume objective should also be explained.

The following are a few sales objectives −

  • Capture and maintain a specific market share
  • Increase sales volumes that help the organization to gain maximum profit
  • Reduce or keep the expenses provided for personal selling within limits
  • Obtain the percentage of customers as per the set targets

Relevant Situation for Personal Selling

In some situations, personal selling becomes more relevant. The following are some relevant situations −

Product Situation

Product selling is more effective for the following types of products.

  • Product with high value like machinery, computers etc.

  • Product in its first stage of life cycle, when it needs more demand.

  • Product to match consumer needs like insurance policy

  • Products that need presentation, for example, industrial products

  • When the products need after sales service

  • Product with less brand loyalty

Market Situation

Personal selling can be utilized optimally depending upon the market situation.

  • An organization selling products to small number of buyers
  • Company selling in local market
  • Required middle men or agents not available
  • No direct channel available for selling products

Company Situation

Personal selling is comparatively more adequate to the companies when

  • A company cannot invest huge amount of money in advertisement on regular basis.
  • A company is unable to find and make use of relevant non-commercial media in promoting the product.

Consumer Behavior Situation

In case of some consumer behaviors, personal selling can be effective when

  • The product purchased by the consumer is expensive but it’s not regular.
  • The consumers need answers instantly without delay.
  • The customers need follow up in competing pressure.

These are the four situations where personal selling is important. This will help the salesperson to spot the customers and provide product knowledge through face to face presentation. Once the consumer understands the nature of the product, it helps him/her to decide whether to purchase the product.

Diversity of Selling Situation

In our day to day life, we come across different types of selling situations. This depends on the individual selling styles because of the marketing factors. The activities of the salesperson differ as per the situation.

Example − The job of a salesperson selling soft drinks is different as compared to that of a salesperson selling computers. In case of soft drinks, the salesperson is not required to explain the significance or the nature of product but in case of computers, the salesperson has to clarify all the technical requirements.

The categorization of the salesperson is done on the basis of selling styles, creative skill required in the job, complexity of the product etc.

Let us now discuss different kinds of selling positions

Delivery Salesperson

As the name suggests, the job of the delivery salesperson is to deliver the product; the selling responsibility is secondary. Example − Milk, curd, bread, soft drinks etc

Inside Order Taker

The person standing behind the counter is known as inside order taker. He does not help the customers much with suggestions. The main purpose is to provide the product requested by the customer. Example −General stores.

Missionary Sales People

The salesperson does not have the permission to promote an order. Their primary job is to develop goodwill and educate the customers about the products. Example − Medical Representatives.

Consultative Salesperson

This type represents those products or services sold to consumer, which are highly priced and need huge investment to purchase. Due to high capital investment by the customer, the salesperson cannot put much pressure to sell.

The salesperson should have a thorough knowledge regarding the product and the patience to discuss and advise the features and advantage of the product.

During the sales process, the salesperson has to be creative. He should maintain the interest with customer without exerting much pressure on the client. Example − Huge Machines, computer systems, etc.

Technical Salesperson

The most important character of the salesperson should be the knowledge relating to the product. The salesperson should have a detailed knowledge regarding the product features, benefits, disadvantages, etc.

Most of the people do not have the required technical knowledge and easily agree to the points of salesperson but there are few customers having knowledge that may influence the decision of purchasing the product. The salesperson should satisfy these types of customers by explaining the product features, installation etc. The salesperson should be well trained to tackle the questions of customers and provide relevant knowledge.

Commercial Salesperson

In this category, the salesperson has to sell the product to other business, industry or government organization etc. It’s generally business to business where the salesperson closes the sale in the first or the second call. The sales process is short as compared to business to customer sales.

The salesperson has to be aggressive and highly motivated for the follow up and maintenance of accounts. Example − Wholesale goods, construction products, office equipment etc

Direct Sales People

Direct sale of product involves selling the products and services to the final consumers. The sales process is short and closed in a short period of time. There are many products available in market for direct sales; hence the salesperson is trained to close the deal in the first visit because the consumer will either purchase the product or switch to its competitor. Example − Insurance, door to door sales, magazines, etc.

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