Effective steps in Personal selling; 7 types – prospecting, pre approach, approach, presentation, overcoming objections, closing, and follow up. Personal selling is one of the forms of promotion or marketing communications used by organizations to communicate with the marketplace and drive purchases of their products. Along with advertising, public relations, and sales promotion – personal selling makes up the promotions mix or marketing communications mix of a company.
Here are explained; 7 Major effective steps in Personal selling.
What is Personal selling? Personal selling can define as; direct person-to-person communication between sellers and potential customers, with the aim of persuading potential customers to purchase products. Personal selling often occurs face-to-face, however it can also take place through telephone conversations, online video conferencing or online text communication.
Personal selling is an effective way to promote and sell high priced and/or complex products. This is because the person-to-person approach allows for a detailed explanation of products and any individual questions or concerns the customer has can immediately address.
Effective steps in Personal selling or steps in selling:
While it is establishing that no single approach to selling works, in all situations, still a generalization can draw and the Major effective steps in Personal selling can identify as under:
- Prospecting and qualifying for Pre approach.
- Pre approach.
- Presentation and Demonstration.
- Overcoming objections.
- Closing, and.
- Follow up and Maintenance.
Now, explain each one;
Prospecting and qualifying:
First, steps in Personal selling; Identify and qualify prospects. Traditionally, the task of identifying the prospect rests with the salesman. Nowadays, with the advances in information technology and software like CRM, companies can establish direct relationships with the customers.
Thus, the task of identifying prospect is sharing and it makes the job of salespersons more focussed. The prospective customers are contacted and then sorted according to the level of interest and financial capability. The salesman can personally visit those customers where the chances of success are more.
Four main steps in prospecting are:
- Formulating prospect definitions: This means defining the prospects according to their financial capacity and the interest to purchase. This helps in segmenting the prospects into the categories where chances of selling are more. This makes the selling activity more targeted.
- Searching for potential accounts: After segmentation, the prospects are analyzed with respect to the probability of selling. This may involve an exploratory visit to the prospects or contacting them over the phone, man or Internet. This further narrows the focus area of the sales reps
- Qualifying prospects and determining probable requirements: After having identified must probable prospects, their requirements are studied so that salesman can actually design a negotiation strategy that fulfills the prospect’s needs. This increases the probability of the success of a sales call.
- Relating company products to each prospect’s requirements: The final step is to integrate both the customers and sales rep so that higher success is achieved with fewer efforts.
Pre approach is the activity of salespersons to learn as much as possible about the prospect. This helps in identifying the factors that play an important role in buying decisions making the process. Once a salesperson is familiar with the factors that are important from the point of view of a customer, he can design his approach strategy accordingly. The chances of success increase with the details of the information. Salespersons go to the extent of knowing the time, place, cultural habits and language of their customers. This helps them to step into the customer’s shoe. This activity helps in saving resources and increases the chances of success.
The manner in which a salesperson approaches the prospect has a lot of effect on the chances of success of a sales call. As it is said, the first impression is the last impression, the salesperson should know how too great the buyer to get the relationship off to a good start. The dressing, manner, and etiquette, language, politeness and persuasiveness have a lot of effect on the success of a sales call. The right approach comes from the degree of proximity to the customer. Proximity in terms of knowing the customers is very important and nowadays more and more companies are doing the same.
Presentation and Demonstration :
After approaching a customer, the salesperson narrates the story of his product. The underlying scheme of presentation is often based on the AIDA model i.e. gaining attention, generating interest, arousing desire and obtaining action. Different styles of the sales presentation are used, as described herein.
- Canned approach: This the oldest approach wherein a sales, person memorizes, the sales talk covering the main points. It is based on stimulus-response thinking i.e. the buyer is passive and can be moved to purchase by the use of the right stimulus wards, pictures, terms, and actions.
- Formulated approach: It is also based on stimulus-response thinking but first identifies the buyer’s needs and buying style and then uses a formulated approach to this type of buyer.
- Need Satisfaction approach: It starts with a search for the customer’s real needs by encouraging the customer to do must of the talking. The salesperson takes on the role of a knowledgeable business consultant hoping to help the customer save money or make money.
The sales presentations can improve with demonstration aids such as booklets, flip charts, slider, movies, audio, and video cassettes, product samples, and computer-based simulations. Computer-aided presentations are also very useful means. Usually, the presentation is following by leave-behinds such as brochures, leaflets, samples, etc.
There arise objections to all the presentations because of psychological resistance. It is very important to resolve them. In fact, objections are the starting point of communication that might transform into negotiation and finally action. So, they must be encouraged as they can have a positive effect on the sales call if they are resolving.
Theoretically, salesperson presentation should show the prospect that the product requires by him and it should be bought. Very few presentations end that successfully and very few prospects are that easily convinced usually prospect will raise objections. Objections raised by the prospect takes a great deal of skill and training. Experienced sales person welcome objections. The salesperson must be able to identify the real reasons for an objection, respond to the objection, and overcome it.
Objections provide the salesperson with the opportunity to learn more about the customer’s needs and provide information about the product to satisfy those needs. The most difficult prospect is one who does not say anything during the presentation, refuse to buy and gives no reason for the decision. The best way to deal with objections is to avoid them by building answers to common questions into the formal sales presentation.
The manner of closing a sales call is as important as the approach. Closing leaves behind an impression, which has a long term, carryover effect. Unconfident salespersons fail to ask for order rendering the entire sales call fruitless. So, the process of winding up of a sales call must incorporate persuasive phrases and actions that not only affect purchase but also help in carrying a long term effect in the mind of the customer.
The closing follows once the objection has been handled. It is at this point that the salesperson should ask for the order. Unfortunately, many salespersons are too reluctant to close: in fact, one study revealed that 50% of salespeople failed to directly ask for the order. The major reason the salespeople are so resistant to close seems to be is fear of rejection.
If salespeople do not ask for an order they cannot be turned down and thereby they avoid embarrassment or disappointment. However, all professional purchasing agents expect sales representatives to attempt a close. Closing the sale is asking the prospect for an order.
The salesperson must be able to recognize the signals that indicate the prospect is ready to close. Successful salespeople learn to time their closing remarks on the basis of signals given by the buyer. These cues can take the form of gestures (Customer nods in agreement, picks up the product and examines it closely) or they can be verbal comments.
Follow up and Maintenance:
Last, steps in Personal selling; In order to ensure repeat business, follow up and maintenance is very important. After closing a sales call, the salesperson should not break contact with the customer. Sustained contact helps in getting business next time. It also helps to enhance customer satisfaction and reducing cognitive dissonance. It also provides feedback to the company for improving the quality of products and service in the future. It’s a must that sales should end in follow up, determine if the order was delivered on time, installation OK, etc. Also helps determine the prospects of future needs.
Accomplishes four objectives:
- Customer gain short term satisfaction.
- Referrals are stimulating.
- In the long run, repurchase.
- Prevent cognitive dissonance.
Follow up activities are critical to the success of salespeople and sales managers. Customers expect after-sale service and it is frequently the job of salespeople to make sure these activities are carried out.
As a general rule when an order is not obtained on the initial call the salesperson should express appreciation for the time made available and suggests a later visit. In this way, a salesperson show continued interest in helping the prospect and in getting the order. When leaving a salesperson should inquire if there are any brochures, samples or other information. That the prospects need before they meet again.
Whenever a salesperson leaves without an order they should immediately write down. What they have learned about the prospect. For example; What were prospects chief objections, who makes the decision and what are the prospects primary needs. If the salesperson made any critical mistake during a presentation they should be noted so that they are not repeating in the next visit. Old school, sell and leave!!—Quickly before customer changes her mind!!
- Stay a few minutes after-sale—reinforce, make them feel good, made a wise choice, leave a small gift (with co. name on it!!), call the office at any time, etc.!!
- Follow up, reinforce, and know birthdays, new year, etc., friendly correspondence…relationship building!!
Salespeople who do not follow up on sales are unlikely to establish long term relationship with customers or secure repeat business. Purchasing agents expect post-sale service and it is the sales person’s responsibility to see that they remain satisfied.