Salesmanship is the knack of selling a product or service. It is the art of convincing the customers to buy a certain product or service. Various authors have given various definitions of salesmanship.
According to National Association of Marketing teachers of America, “It is the ability to persuade people to buy goods or services at a profit to the seller and benefit to the buyers”. Stated a little differently, “it is the ability to induce others to accept a benefit at a fair price, the benefit being the service rendered.”
Professor Stephenson’ defines salesmanship as a “concise effort on the part of the seller to induce a prospective buyer to purchase some thing that he had not really decided to buy even if he had thought of it favorably.”
Gauss, Wightman and Bates observe, “It consists of persuading people to buy what you have for sale in making them want it, in helping to make upon their minds.”
In a nutshell salesmanship is the skill and the ability or a person in convincing another about the proposition of goods or services that the latter is induced to desire them and buy at a price profitable to both. If we observe the above definitions we find certain essential features of salesmanship.
1. The person involved in selling must possess skill and ability to convince another. It is the art of persuasion not pressure which is highly essential. In fact, persuasion is the soul of salesmanship. The salesman must the present the benefits attached to certain product or service in such a manner that the prospective buyer’s mind is made up.
2. Next comes the question of price. The price of the product or service must be reasonable for both the buyer and the seller. Otherwise the efforts of the salesman will bear no fruit. There should not remain any kind of misrepresentation or exaggeration of facts in sales.
3. Next comes the question of quality. The genuine product should also be given to the buyers. There should not be selling of duplicate products. A good salesman will never sell spoilt or unusable goods by tricky methods. A good salesman rather guides the customer in buying something which will give him satisfaction.
4. Ideal salesmanship aims at serving the producer, distributor and consumer. The salesman helps the producer in disposing of his goods at a profit while for the distributor, the salesman makes the distribution process smooth and easy, for the consumer the salesman assist to buy wisely. It is very often called as a service which serves the better cause of humanity.
5. Salesmanship creates satisfied customers, not just cash producing sales. For a sale once made is ended but a satisfied customer once made is but the beginning.
6. Salesman always acts as a link between two-parties the seller and the consumer. He looks after the benefits of both the parties. The seller should get a profit and the customer must also derive benefit.
Is Salesmanship an Art or a Science?
Whenever a new subject is being discussed a common question arises; whether it is a science or an art or both or something other than these two. This question needs an answer because of a variety of opinion about salesman .One group is of the view that ‘salesman are made’, whereas another groups opines, that ‘salesman are born’. The third groups say ‘salesmen are born and made ’. At this juncture it is necessary to decide as to whether salesmanship is an art or a science.
As we know science is a branch of knowledge based on the laws of nature or built on derivations from facts or deduction from self- evident truths. The laws of science have universal applicability. In other words they are true under any situation, at any time or at any place on earth. Hence Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry are regarded as sciences. If salesmanship is compared to other subject of science, it is a science. Salesmanship is a specialized knowledge that has its own rules and principles. However, these rules and principles can not be applicable to each and everyone in the world, since all human beings are not equal and are not universally applied. Therefore, it is not an exact science. On the other hand art is the practical side of science. It is a knowledge made efficient by skill. Hence singing, dancing, acting, writing etc are considered as arts. Art can develop to a great extent by the application of skill and effort. If salesmanship is compared to other subjects of arts like Economic or Sociology, it comes very much on a partnership with these subjects. Therefore, salesmanship is an art. Unless the salesman possesses the practical application of the knowledge as in other subjects of arts, he can not be successful.
Therefore, we can conclude that salesmanship is both an art and a science. This is so because there exists some definite rules and principles in salesmanship as in science and the method of implementing these rules and principles is an art by itself. Thus salesmanship can be developed by regular practice and hard work.
Is Salesmanship a Profession?
At present there remains a wide controversy whether salesmanship can be described as a profession or not. Now we will discuss the characteristics of a profession so as to determine the professionalism of salesmanship.
1. There must be a formal structure of specialize knowledge.
2. There must be an established and accepted ethical standard.
3. There must be a set of standards for admission and disqualification.
4. Service to others before self-interest otherwise called service first, profit last must exist.
If we apply the above tests we find that salesmanship has not yet become a true profession like lawyers, doctors who have mastery over their own field. Similarly like other profession, a salesman has not got readymade knowledge for application in each and every circumstances. A great deal remains to be done before salesmanship achieves the status of a profession, but yet it is feasible. In advanced countries like the USA and UK salesmanship has been recognized as a profession.