Personal Selling – A Definition and a Philosophy
Personal Selling is a process of developing relationships; discovering needs; matching the appropriate products with these needs; and communicating benefits through informing, reminding, or persuading.
The development of a personal selling philosophy for the information age involves three prescriptions:
1) Adopt marketing concept.
2) Value personal selling.
3) Assume the role of a problem solver or partner in helping customers make buying decisions.
Personal Selling as an Extension of the Marketing Concept
When a business firm moves from a product orientation to consumer orientation, we say that it has adopted the marketing concept. This concept springs from the belief that the firm should dedicate all of its policies, planning, and operation to the satisfaction of the customer.
Promotion can be further subdivided into advertising, public relations, sales promotion, and personal selling. Personal selling is the major promotional method used in business.
Evolution of Consultative Selling
Consultative selling emphasizes need identification, which is achieved through effective communication between the salesperson and the customer. The salesperson establishes two-way communication by asking appropriate questions and listening carefully to the customer’s responses. The salesperson assumes the role of consultant and offers well-considered recommendations.
Transactional selling is a sales process that most effectively matches the needs of the value conscious buyer who is primarily interested in price and convenience. This approach to selling is usually used by marketers who do not see the need to spend very much time on customer need assessment, problem solving, relationship building, or sales follow-up.
4 Major Features of Consultative Selling are:
1) The customer is seen as a person to be served, not a prospect to be sold. 2) The consultative salesperson does not try to overpower the customer with a high-pressure sales presentation. Instead, the buyer’s needs are identified through two-way communication. 3) Consultative selling emphasizes information giving, problem solving, and negotiation instead of manipulation. 4) Consultative selling emphasizes service after the sale.
Evolution of Strategic Selling
A strategic market plan is an outline of the methods and resources required to achieve an organization’s goals within a specific target market. The strategic market plan should be a guide for a strategic selling plan. This plan includes strategies that you use to position yourself with the customer before the sales call even begins.
The strategic/consultative selling model features 5 steps:
Develop a relationship strategy.
Success in selling depends heavily on the salesperson’s ability to develop, manage, and enhance interpersonal relations with the customer.
A relationship strategy is a well-thought-out plan for establishing, building, and maintaining quality relationships.
Develop a product strategy
The product strategy is a plan that helps salespeople make correct decisions concerning the selection and positioning of products to meet identified customer needs.
Develop a customer strategy
Customer strategy is based on the fact that success in personal selling depends on the salesperson’s ability to learn as much as possible about the prospect. When developing a customer strategy, the salesperson should develop a broad understanding of buying behaviors, discover individual customer needs, and build a strong prospect base.
Develop a presentation strategy
The presentation strategy is a well-developed plan that includes;
i) Preparing the sales presentation objectives
ii) Preparing the sales presentation plan that meet these objectives
iii) Renewing one’s commitment to providing outstanding customer service.
Interrelate the basic strategies
The relationship, product, and customer strategies all influence development of the presentation strategy. For e.g., one relationship-building practice might be developed for use during the initial face-to-face meeting with the customer and another for possible use during the negotiation of buyer resistance.Another relationship-building method might be developed for use after the sale is closed.
Evolution of Partnering
Partnering is a strategically developed, long-term relationship that solves the customer’s problems. A successful long-term partnership is achieved when the salesperson is able to skillfully apply the four major strategies and thus add value in various ways. Successful sales professionals stay close to the customer and constantly search for new ways to add value.
Many companies today are using some form of sales automation to enhance partnerships with customers. Sales automation is the term used to describe those technologies used to improve communications in a sales organization and to enhance customer responsiveness.
Strategic Alliances – The Highest Form of Partnering
The goal of a strategic alliance is to achieve a marketplace advantage by teaming up with another company whose products or services fit well with your own. 1) Building an alliance to learn as much as possible about the proposed partner. 2) To meet with the proposed partner and explore mutual benefits of the alliance. Building win-win partnerships requires the highest form of consultative selling.