‘Approach’ means coming to direct touch with the prospect. It is the meeting of the salesman and the prospect in person. At this stage, the salesman comes face to face with the prospect, they tries to understand him (prospect) better. Here the salesman attracts the attention of the prospect, gets his interested in the product, tries to convince the prospect in favor of the product and ultimately wins over him.
There are several methods by which the prospect may be approached by a salesman. Some of the important methods are narrated below:
(i) Introductory approach
This is the most common method of approach followed by salesman. Here the salesman must wish his prospect and behave properly like a gentleman. This is the most suitable method for the salesman representing big and prestigious organization, because most customers pay much importance to well reputed firms. Such an approach fails to gain favorable attention if the company is not known to the prospect.
(ii) Product Approach
In general, many people like to see, smell, hear and touch the product before giving any opinion. Therefore, this method consisting of handling over the product to the prospect so that it will appeal to his senses. This will enable the prospect to examine the product and its features correctly. Then the salesman speaks out the selling points that suit to the buying motives of the prospect. This method is more suitable where product intended for sale is popular, eye-catching and attractive.
(iii) Curiosity Approach
Here the salesman tries to make an appeal to the curiosity instinct of the prospect and get immediate action. He writes curious sentences either on the business card or on a slip to attract the prospect’s attention. However, this approach sometimes annoys the prospect who may reject the appeal out rightly.
(iv) Question approach
The use of questions to open an interview is gaining importance nowadays. In fact, it is art itself. In this method, the salesman asks certain questions to get the permission for an interview with the prospect. The questions asked by the salesman must be suitable and specific and also match the requirements of the prospects.
(v) Premium approach
Human psychology is such that if something is received for nothing, people accept it gladly. Therefore, this salesman presents small gifts, like pencils, ash trays, toys, calendars and diaries to prospects to impress them. Moreover, these small gifts also create goodwill about the firm, the salesman and his products. This is regarded as an effective method of securing the confidence and interest of the prospect, because the presentation of a gift creates an obligation on the part of the prospect to have a whole hearted discussion.
(vi) Consumer-benefit approach
As the very name implies, this method is the best one from the point of view of the consumer or the prospect. In this method, the salesman points out one or more advantages of the product that will benefit the prospect.
(vii) Survey approach
Under this method, the salesman conducts a survey about a prospect before approaching him. Thus, the salesman is able to pint out the real needs of the prospect and creates interest in the sales talk. By knowing the needs or the prospects before hand, he is able to present his sales talk in an effective manner. However, survey must be proper and free from business. Mere guesswork and imagination may prove unsatisfactory.
(viii) Shock Approach
This is another method of approach where the salesman prefers to shock the prospect by indicating the element of fear. It may be fear of old age, death, sickness, fire, theft and the like that have deeper and greater concern in one’s life. This makes the prospect to think about reality and take necessary action. The prospect being afraid of future, may take the goods or services of salesman seriously. Insurance agents catch the attention and create interest of a prospect by following this method.
(ix) Compliment approach
Appreciations, praise, applause and compliments are good tools of the opening interview. Therefore, some salesman uses these tools while approaching the prospects if they deserve so. This is known as minimum courtesy. However, too much compliments leads to flattery and salesman’s tricks may fail.
(x) Showmanship approach
Under this method, the salesman presents his goods and sales talk in a dramatic manner, because some prospects like it. However, this method is applicable in selected cases only, particularly with women folk and rural customers.
(xi) Reference approach
In this method, the salesman opens the interview by referring to a friend of a buyer. By naming the prospect’s friend, a salesman secures recognition and prestige and is able to open the interview on a more personal and friendly basis.