In every business organisation there are super sales heroes who bring business to the institute’s custody after so many battles. It is a hard battle which is won after sacrificing many tears, sweat, time and energy of the sales person.
With the current economy boom in the North and East Provinces in Sri Lanka, there are many marketing activities been carried out. But it is a fact that campaigns alone cannot make sales and profits with good products sold at attractive prices.
To generate sales, product benefits have to be communicated to the customers. In marketing, this operation is called ‘promotion’ and a comprehensive communication plan is called the ‘promotional mix,’ which comprises ‘advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and public relations’. It is a fact that ‘personal selling’ is one of the key elements among those.
‘Personal selling’ is an art where the sales person deals with prospective potential buyers through oral communication with an intention of making a sale. It can be a form of interview, door to door selling, in home selling, telemarketing… etc. At the very beginning, the sales person tries to build some kind of relationship with the prospective buyer and will start to explain the product benefits and features while attempting to ‘close the sale’.
We can experience this type of situations while trying to sell life insurance, a credit card, an apartment, a motor vehicle, shopping or speciality goods, etc., when the goods become more complex, which are bought infrequently and expensive or when it comes to a ‘B2B’ (Business to Business) product.
Personal selling is one of the oldest methods of promotion and it helps organisations to support its ‘push strategy’ to sell the products, which tries to accomplish the sales targets through hard selling. A ‘push promotional strategy’ makes the use of the organisation’s sales heroes and trade promotion activities to create consumer awareness and demand for a product.
In personal selling the sales person has to make a presentation to the prospectors at the initial stage when explaining the product features. It can be an oral presentation which creates different positive pictures in the prospective customer’s mind and he/she can use other presentation materials such as power point presentations, video clips, endorsements of brand ambassadors, brochures, etc.
Initially it is essential that a sales person has to be a good communicator, presenter and entertainer to the prospective customer. A sales person should be well dressed, equipped with all the sales materials and product knowledge which helps to create confidence about him/her and about the organisation in the customer’s mind.
A sales person should be rich in interpersonal qualities, have the ability to adjust to the situation, be a self-ignite person, a listening character, have product and customer knowledge, presentation skills and problem solving skills.
In every sale it is a fact that the sales person has to sell himself first. It can be a pleasant smile, calm and professional behaviour, ethics, etc. In his presentation, it should be purely based on customer needs and requirements of the product, creating positive attitudes about the products in the customer’s mind, motivating to buy the product or service, giving assurance about the product and its after sales service, which lets the customer feel it is a wise decision that he makes and finally which creates customers willingness to purchase the product or service.
The main objectives of personal selling would be in any organisation to increase the sales volumes, increase of sales revenue, reduce the cost of sales, and increase the number of distribution channels to gain corporate clients, increase sales per person and number of sales points.
At the same time, it targets the sales person to gather information about the customer’s needs and wants, find competitor product information, communicate product features and benefits to the customer, display and demonstrate the products, find new prospects to build goodwill, deal with complaints and make sure that the promises are kept after the sale has taken place and so on. By getting these advantages from the sales person, it helps the organisation to find where it stands and who it deals with.
In personal selling we can identify key five areas such as preparation, prospecting, pre-approach, presentation and post sales support. Preparation means that the sales person should prepare materials to be used for the sales hunt while locating potential and prospective customers. It can be found from a directory, databases, trade shows, through existing business contacts, visiting cards, etc.
Tailoring the presentation material and getting prepared for the sales presentation can be identified as the pre-approach. The approach could be a face-to-face interview, to create favourable impressions, to verify the facts. The next step would be delivering the presentation to the customer in a professional manner. It will help to describe the product, highlight the product advantages, demonstrate and reinforce the message and transmit the promotional message.
This is the ideal time for a sales person to present product opportunities to the prospective customer and make the sale whilst seeking to gain the buyer’s commitment to purchase the goods or service. Post-sales support means re-ensuring and confirming the customers’ decision of buying the product or service is correct and where he shouldn’t feel frustrated about his buying decision.
The distinctions made between advertising, publicity, sales promotion and personal selling makes it amply clear to us that personal selling too is the essential component of the communication mix of the organisation.
Personal selling and advertising works together in the sense that personal selling gathers the audiences to listen to the company’s product message and it is advertising which then makes the job of a sales person less difficult and more efficient.
It is a fact that ‘personal selling,’ even though it is not an easy role to play, has proven that it brings lot of solid revenue to the organisation. Due to that reason and to appreciate the tough time a sales person goes through to make a winning stroke, most organisations offer high commissions to the sales heroes while granting foreign trips, recognition schemes, profit sharing schemes, fringe benefits and allowances, etc.
In any organisation ‘sales people’ are the heroes. They go to the battle field, in every tough sales war they fight with giants and bring them to the sales custody in a profitable manner for both parties. A sales person should always have the mindset articulated by Hannibal: ‘We will either find away or make one.’
(The writer is a practicing marketer – SL, MSLIM.)