Meaning of Personal Selling

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Personal selling involves selling through a person-to-person communications process.

This direct and inter personal communication gives immediate feedback from the receiver. This communication process, known as dyadic communication helps companies to tune the message suitable to the respective buyers.

Personal selling often plays an important role in industrial firms.

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Personal Selling is one of the forms of Sales Promotion. It is flexible and, a very effective method of communication. Unlike, other promotional technique, it develops a two way communication or mutual communication.

Salesman communicates the message regarding the characteristics of the product and the producer to the customers or prospective and receives communications from the customer in respect or their feelings, behaviour and learning’s about the product and the producer.


Meaning of Personal Selling

Meaning of Personal Selling 

Personal selling involves selling through a person-to-person communications process. This direct and inter personal communication jives immediate feedback from the receiver. This communication process, known as dyadic communication helps companies to tune the message suitable to the respective buyers. Personal selling often plays an important role in industrial firms.

The role of personal selling varies from firm to firm depending on a variety of factors, including the nature of the product or service, size of the organization, and type of industry. The role of personal selling is constantly changing along with the changes in the marketing environment.

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The distinct stages of personal selling are as follows:

1. Provider stage – Selling activities are limited to accepting orders of the available products of seller and delivering them to buyer.

2. Persuade stage – Selling involves an attempt to persuade market members to buy the supplier’s offerings.

3. Prospector stage – Reaching the prospective buyers who are interested in the company offering and having the resources and authority to buy it.

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4. Problem-solver stage – Selling involves matching the available offerings to solve customer problems.

5. Procreator stage – Selling defines the buyer’s problems or needs and their solutions through active buyer-seller collaboration and then creates a market offering to match the customer need.

Firms evolving through these five stages have to adopt different promotional strategies, each integrated with personal selling to achieve the maximum communications effect. Personal selling evolves into a much broader role to establish a long-term, symbiotic relationship with clients, working closely with them as a solutions provider.

Relationship marketing is defined as – “an organization’s effort to develop a long-term, cost-effective link with individual customer for mutual benefit.” The personal selling efforts help the companies to build relationships with customers effectively.

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Personal selling refers to oral face to face interaction or conversation between a sales representative and prospective customer for the purpose of making sales.

As a marketing communication tool, personal selling is more effective in the trial stage of the purchase process. Of course, it has to be ideally supported by the other components of promotion such as sales promotion and advertising.

Personal selling is the salesmanship function.

Salesman is persuasion and winning the buyer’s confidence. Misrepresentation, cheating, dishonesty have no place in modern salesmanship, but it aims at winning the confidence of the buyer by providing a solution to the buyers problems, by persuading and educating the buyers.

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Salesmen perform the function of educating the customers about their needs and their satisfaction.

They also provide information about the products available, their special feature, and their utility in satisfying specific needs of customers.

The modern concept of salesmanship is based on the idea of service. Modern salesmanship is creative in approach. Modern salesmanship tries to create need, awareness of these needs, and uses resourcefulness and imagination to persuade customers. It uses problem solving approach to ensure customer satisfaction.


Meaning of Personal Selling 

Personal Selling is one of the forms of Sales Promotion. It is flexible and, a very effective method of communication. Unlike, other promotional technique, it develops a two way communication or mutual communication. Salesman communicates the message regarding the characteristics of the product and the producer to the customers or prospective and receives communications from the customer in respect or their feelings, behaviour and learning’s about the product and the producer.

Inspite of its favourable characteristics, personal selling cannot be said to be the unique method of promoting sales, even though it is found effective in many industries. Taylor Jr. and Robb Remark —”however, like advertising, its degree of use in the promotional mix is variable and depends on such factors as the nature of the product and its market. One national distributor of tobacco products, for example, uses no personal selling but relies mostly on direct mail advertising to sell its products. At other extreme, a producer of heavy manufacturing machinery spends more than 98 percent of its promotional budget on personal selling.”

Often Personal selling and salesmanship are two terms which are used without any distinction. However, there are vital differences between these two terms. Personal Selling is a broader concept and involves oral presentation 41 conversation with one or more prospective buyers for the purpose of making sales. The main purpose of personal selling is to bring the product in the knowledge of the prospective buyers and convince them with the quality of the product and make certain that ownership transfers take place.

Salesmanship on the other, hand, is an art of using skill in selling the product. It may or may not form part of the personal selling. Salesmanship may be employed both in personal selling and in advertisement (impersonal selling). It is, therefore, sometimes, advertisement is called ‘salesmanship in prin.’ We are here using these two terms’ (Personal Selling and salesmanship) synonymous to each other.

The American Marketing Association has defined the term Personal Selling as “oral presentation in conversation with one or more prospective purchaser for the purpose of making sales”. Richard Buskirk has deemed the term as “personal selling consists of contracting prospective buyers of a product personally.” Thus, Personal selling means contact­ing prospective buyers for the purpose of making sales.

The distinctive qualities of Personal selling are:

(i) Personal Contact – The salesman comes into contact with the prospective buyers and thus each party is able to observe at close quarters to each other and make immediate adjustments and thus make the encounter successful.

(ii) Cultivation of Relationship – Personal selling may lead to all kinds of relationship ranging from selling relationship to a deep personal relationship.

(iii) Immediate Response – Personal selling usually makes the prospects feel a sort of peculiar obligation for having listened to the sales talks.


Meaning of Personal Selling 

Personal selling refers to oral and face-to-face communication and presentation with the prospect for the purpose of making sales. There may be one prospect or a number of prospects in the personal conversation. Personal selling involves two-way communication. When it comes to convincing the prospect, closing a sale and transferring the title from seller to buyer, personal selling becomes the strongest tool of promotion.

During personal interview, the salesperson understands the needs and wants of prospect, highlights product benefits and convinces him to buy the product. Therefore, we can say that personal selling is highly distinctive and the only form of promotion involving face-to-face relationship between a salesperson and one or more prospective customers. Salesmanship involves persuading the people to buy product or service with benefit to the user and profit to the company.

The ultimate objective of the marketing function is to increase the sales of want-satisfying products and services, thus leading to a healthy bottom line. Of the several tools available to stimulate sales, one most important tool is personal selling. Advertising may support careers of a few thousand people. However, those employed in personal selling can be counted in lakh.

Several companies spend 8 to 15 per cent of the net sales on personal selling as against 1 to 3 per cent spent on advertising. Selling needs a considerable sum considering the salary bill, allowances bill, travelling cost and operating expenses of the sales branches or offices.

It is a method of communication – a salesperson communicates on an individual basis with a prospect. It is opposed to mass communication like advertising where the organization communicates with a body of customers.

Personal selling is person-to-person communication. It is thus inherent in the very nature of personal selling that the communication is tailored to the needs of the prospects.

It is also possible to get an immediate feedback in personal selling by observing the reactions of the prospect, and thus communication can be modified on the spot. Personal selling effort has the least amount of wastage. Advertising may be received by those who are not our target audience. Personal selling is focussed directly on our target audience.

Personal selling may lead to action — the actual sales. Ads can attract customers, create an awareness in them and may arouse a desire to possess the product. But they generally fall short of the buyer’s last step — the actual buying.

Besides, while doing personal selling, a variety of other tasks like collecting data about creditworthiness of the customers or their preferences can be performed. Personal selling can address the grievances of the individual customers.

Life has so much to offer and we have so much to take. Has it ever occurred to you that what is on offer must be sold? It is not always the tangible products which are on offer; we also offer our ideas, beliefs and values.

We also wish to attain our goals and expect others to help us attain them. We expect to win others to our point of view. Perhaps, we all are selling something which others buy. Maybe, the word selling is not so likeable to you – it smacks of crass commercial considerations.

Let us say we communicate to persuade or dissuade. The elements of this persuasive (or dissuasive) communication are motivation, instruction, encouragement and reassurance.

Every successful person sells himself. Selling himself means selling what he stands for – his value system, his ideas, his opinions, his beliefs and his goals. In a way, he does this selling better than others. Thus, selling, as Stevenson remarks is everybody’s profession.

In fact, the barter laid the foundation of selling in the Stone Age. Early in the human civilization, the gypsy-like salesmen wandered from place-to-place. But the formal salesman as we know him today was born in the early 19th century.

The textile mill employed him to travel to different places, show samples and collect orders in anticipation of production. The delivery was to be made in future. All this sounds so commonplace today.

But in human history, this order-taker has come as a surprising innovation. He spread out far and wide – in other industries and changed the very concept of distribution. The introduction of rail-road brought on the scene the travelling salesmen.

Perhaps, Peterson John H. can be called the father of modern sales management. He organized the first sales force and introduced the element of training in 1844. We note with pride the concept of sales quotas and territory allocation to salespersons is attributed to him.

Watson, an associate of Peterson, emphasized the importance of continuous training for the salespersons. Further professionalization of selling profession has now reached new heights — we have professional courses, a body of literature, professional associations and sales consultants. Selling is most exciting because it is both an art and a science.

Tom Hopkins is his latest best-seller on Art of Selling, describes selling as the highest paid hard work, and at the same time, lowest paid easy work. Thus, the returns from selling are commensurate with your efforts, skills, knowledge and competence.

Selling as a career is a constant challenge. It allows us to put forth the best in us. We thus get a rare opportunity to articulate. Very few professions provide the kind of pleasure that selling does.

Selling benefits both the parties — the seller as well as the client. The better the selling, the more the benefits. It is thus a deeply satisfying career. While pursuing a selling career, we evolve as human beings.

The myth of a born salesman has to be shattered. Such a myth creates a false sense of confidence in some persons and a feeling of inadequacy in a lot many other persons. It harms both ways. Selling is a matter of learning.

A sales manager must have good knowledge of both personal selling and salesmanship. Some of them do graduate from salesmanship to the executive ladder, whereas some start at the executive level and learn the theoretical principles of sales­manship.

Though many sales managers have no selling experience, they still make outstanding executives, because the job calls for more conceptual, human relations and leadership skills and less of technical skills.

It cannot, however, be often said with confidence that a salesman will always make a good sales manager, on promotion, because he may lack the conceptual and leadership skills necessary to make this job a success.


Meaning of Personal Selling – According to Philip Kotler, Richard Buskirk and American Marketing Association

Personal selling involves direct face to face communication between sellers and potential buyers. Face to face selling also provides immediate feedback which helps salesmen to adapt the firm’s marketing mix to each potential buyer. Often, the personal selling effort has been blended with advertising and sales promotion.

According to Philip Kolter, personal selling is the most effective tool at certain stages of the buying process, particularly in building up buyer’s preference, conviction and action. The reason he stated was that personal selling when compared with advertising has three distinctive qualities-

1. Personal confrontation – Personal selling involves an alive, immediate and interactive relationship between two or more persons. Each party is able to observe each other’s needs and characteristics at close hand and make immediate adjustments.

2. Cultivation – Personal selling permits all kinds of relationship to spring up, ranging from a matter of fact selling relationship to a deep personal friendship. Effective salesmen will normally keep their customers interests at heart if they want long-run relationships.

3. Response – Personal selling makes the buyer feel under some obligation for having listened to the sales talk. Their buyer has a greater need to attend and respond, even if the response is a polite “thank you.”

In the words of Richard Buskirk, “Personal selling consists of contracting prospective buyers of product personally.”

According to American Marketing Association, “Personal selling is a verbal presentation before one or more prospective buyers with the object of selling.”

Personal selling is the face-to-face presentation of a product, service, or an idea to a potential customer or customers by a representative of the company or organization. This is the most effective way of persuading the company or organization. This is the most effective way of persuading the customers.

However, it is also the most expensive and impractical to accomplish mass selling. Wherever used, it is usually employed as a follow-up to mass communication to clinch the sale or develop a long-term relationship with customers that will bring in sales.

Personal selling is present at each marketing level, is costlier than advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing and commands the maximum share of promotion money.

Often, the personal selling effort has been blended with advertising and sales promotion. According to Philip Kotler, personal selling is the most effective tool at certain stages of the buying process, particularly in building up buyer’s preference, conviction, and action.

The reason he stated was that personal selling, when compared with advertising, has three distinctive qualities:

1. Personal Confrontation – Personal selling involves an alive, immediate and interactive, relationship between two or more persons. Each party is able to observe each other’s needs and characteristics at close hand and make immediate adjustments.

2. Cultivation – Personal selling permits all kinds of relationship to spring up, ranging from a matter of fact selling relationship to a deep personal friendship. Effective salesman will normally keep their customer’s interests at heart if they want long-run relationship.

3. Response – Personal selling makes the buyer feel under some obligation for having listened to the sales talk. Their buyer has a greater need to attend and respond, even if the response is a polite “thank you.”

These distinctive qualities come at a cost. A sales-force represents a greater long-term commitment than advertising. Advertising can be turned on and off, but the size of a sales force is more difficult to alter.


Meaning of Personal Selling 

Personal selling is the oldest form of communicating with customers. It is the salesperson at the retail level who can most effectively close sales. The importance of this function is often underestimated. In IMC, it is one of the most effective tools for creating retail sales. Personal selling involves face-to-face, or person-to-person, communication.

The seller attempts to persuade customers to buy the retailer’s products. The primary advantage of personal selling is its one- on-one nature, which allows the salesperson to be flexible when finding products or services to satisfy or exceed the customer’s needs and wants.

Often salespeople are the only contact a customer has with a retail store. The customer may then look upon the salesperson as the retailer. Customers come to retail salespeople with specific needs and wants, and a well-trained salesperson makes sure that those needs and wants are met or exceeded. The downside to personal selling as a communications vehicle is that it is very expensive when looked at on a per-customer-contact basis.

To increase the chances of success, a sales plan is needed for the sales function. Salespeople should receive ongoing training to ensure they have the answers to customers’ questions, or at least know where to go to get those answers.

Personal selling entails a great deal of integration among the retailing functions. Human resource personnel train salespeople, customer service depends on personal customer contact, managers supervise salespeople, and all IMC functions rely on salespeople to close many sales. It can be argued that personal stilling is the most important aspect of retailing.

Retailers often have different hiring criteria for the sales staff than for employees in many of the other areas. Demographic characteristics, prior work experience, and personality are important considerations when selecting sales personnel.

Examples of using demographics in the hiring of salespeople are found at Nordstrom department stores. If you have shopped at a Nordstrom store, you may have noticed that the salespeople in each department mirror the department in which they work. For example, the salesperson working in the women’s petite clothing department is usually a petite person. This approach allows the salesperson to better understand customers’ needs.

On a recent trip to Nordstrom, two retail consultants were looking around in each department. One thing that caught their attention was the age demographic of the salespeople. In the junior department, salespeople were younger. In the women’s departments, salespeople were older than those in juniors, and all the sales clerks were women.

Similarly, male sales personnel staffed the men’s departments. This pattern held throughout the store. Consumers are likely to feel more confident about their purchases when they relate to salespeople who ‘look” like them. Other retailers can learn from the Nordstrom example by hiring and training salespeople who understand customers’ concerns. The salesperson wearing a suit is probably more effective in his job-selling men’s suits-than he would be if he worked in the athletic apparel section.

Training for sales personnel takes a slightly different approach than that for employees in other IMC areas. Selling techniques and product knowledge are the main issues in sales training. Many retailers rely heavily on role playing to enforce the processes being taught to sales staff. Once again, it is the retail manager’s job to ensure that personal selling is integrated with the other IMC variables.

No customer likes to be, confused by a” retailer’s communications process. If advertisers tell consumers that the retailer is “friendly,” consumers expect to see friendly ’employees. To them, “friendly” may mean being greeted by smiling employees who thank them for their business. If shoppers- do not experience friendliness, they may get confused and the IMC message will get lost in the execution. Sales employees should be trained to follow’ the ‘golden rule’ – Treat customers as you would want to be treated were you to shop at the store.


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