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Personal Selling Process

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Everything you need to know about process of personal selling. Personal selling or salesmanship itself is a process.

There are several stages involved in the process and a salesman has to understand all the stages in the process to make the process more effective.

This process involves identifying the prospective buyer, establishing a contact and relationship with the buyer, presentation of the product to the buyer and demonstrating its uses and benefits, convincing the customers about the product by efficiently handling objections from the customers, negotiating the price and terms of payment and finally getting the orders.

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The selling process is a set of activities undertaken to successfully obtain an order and begin building long-term customer relations. The activities apply to all forms of selling and can be adapted to most selling situations (including non-product selling such as – selling an idea).

There are several stages involved in the process and a salesman has to understand all the stages in the process to make the process more effective:-

1. Prospecting and Evaluating 2. Approaching the Consumer 3. Preparing for the Sale 4. Making the Presentation 5. Overcoming the Objections 6. Closing the Sale 7. Following Up.


Personal Selling Process: Steps and Stages

Personal Selling Process – Identifying the Prospective Buyer, Pre-Approach, Approach, Presentation, Demonstration, Overcoming Objection, Closing and a Few Others

This process involves identifying the prospective buyer, establishing a contact and relationship with the buyer, presentation of the product to the buyer and demonstrating its uses and benefits, convincing the customers about the product by efficiently handling objections from the customers, negotiating the price and terms of payment and finally getting the orders.

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A follow up call from the sales personnel, after the sales process is over ensures customer satisfaction and establishes long term relationship between the seller and customer and improves goodwill.

1. Identifying the Prospective Buyer (Prospecting and Qualifying):

The first stage of personal selling process involves identifying potential customers. All prospects identified may not turn out to be actual customers. Hence identifying the right prospect is essential as it determines the future selling process. Marketers tap different sources to identify the prospective customers. Marketers search for prospects in directories, websites and contact through mail and telephone.

Marketers establish booth at trade shows and exhibitions, get the names of the prospects from existing customers, cultivate referral sources such as – dealers, suppliers, sales representatives, executives, bankers etc. After identifying the prospect the sales person qualifies the prospects on the basis of their financial ability, needs, taste and preferences.

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2. Pre-Approach:

The next step to prospecting and qualifying is pre-approach. At this stage the salesperson needs to decide as to how to approach the prospective customer. The salesperson may make a personal visit, a phone call or send a letter, based on the convenience of the prospects.

3. Approach:

At this stage the salesperson should properly approach the prospects. He should properly greet the buyer and give a good start to the conversation. The salesperson’s attitude, appearance, way of speaking matters most at this stage.

4. Presentation and Demonstration:

At this stage the salesperson provides detailed information about the product and benefits of the product. The salesperson narrates the features of the product, explains the benefit and the worth of the product in terms of money.

5. Overcoming Objections:

After presentation and demonstration, when customers are asked to place order, they are reluctant to buy and raise objection. Customers give importance to well-established brands, show apathy, impatience, reluctance to participate in the talk etc. Customer may raise objection with regard to price, delivery schedule; product or company characteristics, etc. Salesperson handles such objections skillfully by clarifying their objections and convinces the customer to make purchase.

6. Closing:

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After handling objections and convincing customers to buy the product, the salesperson requests the customer to place order. The salesperson assists the buyer to place order.

7. Follow-Up and Maintenance:

Immediately after closing the sale, the salesperson should take some follow up measures. The sales person assures about delivery at right time, proper installation, after sales service. This ensures customer satisfaction and repeat purchase.

In case of newly introduced product and product that requires demonstration and presentation, personal selling is effective.


Personal Selling Process – Prospecting, Evaluating, Approaching the Consumer, Preparing for the Sale, Making the Presentation, Overcoming the Objection and a Few Others

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The activities involved in the selling process vary from salesman to salesman and also with selling situations. No one method is used by the two salesmen.

Generally, the following process is utilised in selling a product:

Process # 1. Prospecting and Evaluating:

Prospecting consists in developing a list of potential customers. The first step in the sales process is to discover the names of prospects from several sources such as the company’s sales records, consumer’s information requests from advertisements, other customers newspaper announcements, public records, telephone and trade directories, who’s who, yearbooks, and trade association list.

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After developing the prospect list, a salesman evaluates each prospect to determine whether the prospect is able, willing, and authorized to buy the product. On the basis of this evaluation, names of some prospects may be deleted, while others are deemed to be acceptable and may be ranked in relation to their desirability or potential.

Process # 2. Approaching the Consumer:

This is most critical step because the prospect’s first impression of the salesman may be a lasting impression that has long- run consequences. One type of approach is based on referrals; the salesman approaches the prospects and explains that an acquaintance as associate or a relative has suggested the call. The ‘cold courses’ is an approach in which the salesman calls or potential customers without their prior consent.

‘Repeat contact’ is another common approach, when making the contact; the salesman mentions a prior meeting. What type of approach would be suitable depends upon the salesman’s preferences, the product being sold, the firm’s resources, and the characteristics of the prospect.

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Process # 3. Preparing for the Sale:

This step consists in finding and analysing information regarding prospects specific product needs, current brands being used; feelings about other available brands and personal characteristics. This information is used in selecting an approach and in creating a sales presentation. The more information about a prospect that a salesman has, the better able he is to develop an approach and presentation that precisely communicates with the prospect.

Process # 4. Making the Presentation:

During the sales presentation, the salesman must attract and hold attention of the prospect in order to stimulate interest and convince and arouse desire for the product.

To attract such attention, the salesman should talk to the prospect briefly about the product either by asking a question that interests him or by display of some material, such as a sample, or by allowing the prospect touch, hold, or actually use the product. Demonstration may also be given about the product so that the prospect gets more involved.

Process # 5. Overcoming the Objections:

There are certain objections which can be anticipated and their answers formulated before the sales interview takes place. There are other objections which cannot be anticipated because they are usually related to the procedures of a particular business.

For these objections, the following methods may be used:

i. Direct denial method (also called the “head-on or contradiction” method), under which the salesman should never contradict the buyers’ observation. In such method, the salesman should keep in mind these guidelines; (a) He should not be offensive, rather he should smile; (b) The retail sales clerk should not attempt this method because he is seldom in a position to keep the customers; (c) The type of customer must be kept in mind so that his feelings may not be hurt; (d) It should not be used if the objection has any ‘ego’ involvement in it.

ii. The Boomerang method (also called the translation method), is so called because the object raised by the prospect often comes back at him as a valid reason for buying the product. This method is useful in meeting excuses that are not strongly backed by facts. It is effective only when the salesman is skilled in applying this technique.

iii. Indirect-identical method (also known as “yes but method or ‘sidestepping the question method), is most widely used method. It is a method of compromise because both salesman and prospects “bend” a little. They admit to each other that they both are right, but there is the other side of the problem to consider also.

iv. Compensation method, which merely acknowledges the validity of an objection, but points out some advantage that is supposed to compensate for the objection, such as lower price, or special care of the product.

v. The Pass-up method, is one where the salesman smiles and tries to pass over the objection especially when the objection is of trivial nature that it does not deserve a careful or thoughtful answer.

vi. The question method, under which the salesman asks questions regarding objections, so that further analysis be made. The “reason objections” are answered with the word why because why reopens the discussion and the possibility of making a sale.

The salesman, while using any of these methods of handing objections, must be sure that he is applying the right method in such particular situation.

Process # 6. Closing the Sale:

This step is the climax of the selling process in which the salesman asks the prospect to buy the product or products. “He who wins the last battle wins the war” is truly applicable to a salesman foreclosing in the test, of every salesman. Inadequate preparation, poor impression, failure in meeting objections or wrong approach on the part of the salesman may come in his way.

Buyer’s fears and the salesman’s attitude are two important obstacles of closing the sale. The sale must be closed only when the salesman knows that the customer is prepared for it. The close of the sale depends upon the conditions, personality for the parties and the nature of the goods.

Some of the effective ways of closing the sale are – (i) to take it for granted, (ii) offer some inducements, (iii) telling business stories how others have benefitted by the purchase of the products, (iv) fear of loss, (v) stressing minor but interesting details, and (vi) marketing a straight request for an order.

The salesman may employ a “trial close” by asking questions that assume the prospect will buy the product, e.g. he might ask the potential customer questions about financial terms, desired colours, or sizes, delivery arrangements, or the quantity to be purchased. The prospects reactions to such questions usually indicate how close the prospect indirectly respond that they will buy the product without having to state those sometimes difficult words “I’ll like it”. A salesman should try to close at several points during the presentation, because the prospect may be ready to buy.

Process # 7. Following Up:

After a sale is closed, it should be properly followed. The salesman should ensure that the delivery instructions given by the customer are properly followed. The salesman must visit the customer often to learn what problems or questions have arisen regarding the product. “After sales service” should be punctual, quick and satisfactory.


Personal Selling Process – Generating Sales Leads, Qualifying Sales Lead, Preparation for the Sales Call, Sales Meeting, Handling Buyer Resistance and a Few Others

The selling process is a set of activities undertaken to successfully obtain an order and begin building long-term customer relations. The activities apply to all forms of selling and can be adapted to most selling situations (including non-product selling such as – selling an idea).

The selling activities undertaken by professional salespeople includes the following steps:

Step # 1. Generating Sales Leads:

Selling begins by locating potential customers. A potential customer or “prospect” is first identified as sales lead, which simply means the salesperson has obtained information to suggest that someone exhibits key characteristics that lend them to being a prospect. For certain sales positions, locating leads may not be a major task undertaken by the sales force as these activities are handled by others in company.

For instance, salespeople may receive a list of sales leads based on inquiries through the company’s website. However, for a large percentage of salespeople lead generation consumes a significant portion of their everyday work. For salespeople actively involved in generating leads, they are continually on the lookout for potential new business.

In fact, for salespeople whose chief role is that of order getter, there is virtually no chance of being successful unless they can consistently generate sales leads.

Sales leads can come from many sources including:

i. Prospect Initiated – Includes leads obtained when prospects initiate contact such as – when they fill out a website form, enter a trade show booth or respond to an advertisement.

ii. Profile Fitting – Uses market research tools, such as – company profiles, to locate leads based on customers that fit a particular profile likely to be a match for the company’s products. The profile is often based on the profile of previous customers.

iii. Market Monitoring – Through this approach leads are obtained by monitoring media outlets, such as – news articles, internet forums and corporate press releases.

iv. Canvassing – Here leads are gathered by cold-calling (i.e., contacting someone without pre-notification) including in-person, by telephone or by email.

v. Data Mining – This technique uses sophisticated software to evaluate information (e.g., in a corporate database) previously gathered by a company in hope of locating prospects. Personal and Professional Contacts – A very common method for locating sales leads is using referrals. Such referrals may come at no cost to the salesperson or, to encourage referrals, salespeople may offer payment for referrals.

Non-paying methods including asking acquaintances (e.g., friends, business associates) and networking (e.g., joining local or professional groups and associations). Paid methods may include payment to others who direct leads that eventually turn into customers including using internet affiliate programs (i.e., paid for website referrals).

vi. Promotions – The method uses free gifts to encourage prospect to provide contact information or attend a sales meeting. For example, offering free software for signing up for a demonstration of another product.

Step # 2. Qualifying Sales Leads:

Not all sales leads hold the potential for becoming sales prospects.

There are many reasons for this including:

i. Cannot be Contacted – Some prospects may fit the criteria for being a prospect but gaining time to meet with them may be very difficult (e.g., high-level executives).

ii. Need Already Satisfied – Prospects may have already purchased a similar product offered by a competitor and, thus, may not have the need for additional products.

iii. Lack Financial Capacity – Just because someone has a need for a product does not mean they can afford it. Lack of financial capacity is major reason why sales leads do not become prospects.

iv. May Not Be Key Decision Maker – Prospects may lack the authority to approve the purchase.

v. May Not Meet Requirements to Purchase – Prospects may not meet the requirements for purchasing the product (e.g., lack other products needed for seller’s product to work properly).

The process of determining whether a sales lead has the potential to become a prospect is known as – “qualifying” the lead. In some cases, a sales lead can be qualified by the seller prior to making first contact. For instance, this can be done through the use of research reports, such as an evaluation of a company’s financial position using publicly available financial reporting services.

More likely, sellers will not be in a position to qualify leads until they establish contact with a lead, which may occur in activities associated with either Preparation for the Sales Call or The Sales Meeting.

Step # 3. Preparation for the Sales Call:

If a prospect has been qualified or if qualifying cannot take place until additional information is obtained (e.g., when first talking to the prospect), a salesperson’s next task is to prepare for an eventual sales call.

This activity in the selling process has two main objectives:

i. Learn More about the Customer:

While during the lead generation and qualifying portion of the selling process a seller may have gained a great deal of knowledge about a customer, invariably there is much more to be known that will be helpful once an actual sales call is made.

The salesperson will use their research skills to learn about such issues as:

a. Who is the key decision maker?

b. What is the customer’s organizational structure?

c. What products are currently being purchased?

d. How are purchase decisions made?

Salespeople can attempt to gather this information through several sources including- corporate research reports, information on the prospect’s website, conversations with non-competitive salespeople who have dealt with the prospect, website forums where industry information is discussed, and by asking questions when setting up sales meetings.

Gaining this information can help prepare the salesperson for the sales presentation. For example, if the salesperson learns which competitor currently supplies the prospect then the salesperson can tailor promotional material in a way that compares the seller’s products against products being purchased by the prospect.

Additionally, having more information about a prospect allows the salesperson to be more confident in his/her presentation and, consequently, come across as more knowledgeable when meeting with the prospect.

ii. Arranging Prospect Contact:

With some information about the prospect in-hand, the salesperson must then move to make initial contact. In a few cases a salesperson may be fortunate to have the prospect contact her/him but in most cases salespeople will need to initiate contact. In many ways arranging for contact is as much as selling effort as selling a product.

There are two main approaches to arranging contact:

a. Cold Calling for Presentation:

A challenging way to contact a prospect is to attempt to conduct a sales meeting through a straight cold call. In this approach the intention is to not only contact the prospect but to also give a sales presentation during this first contact period. This approach can be difficult since the prospect may be irritated by having unannounced salespeople interrupt them and take time out of their busy work schedule to sit for a sales meeting.

b. Cold Calling for Appointment:

A better approach for most salespeople is to contact a prospect to set up an appointment in advance of the sales meeting. The main advantages of making appointments is that it gives the salesperson additional time to prepare for the meeting and also, in the course of discussing an appointment, the salesperson may have the opportunity to gain more information from the prospect.

Of course, this way also has the added advantage of having the prospect agree to sit for the meeting, which may make them more receptive to the product than if the salesperson had followed the Cold Calling for Presentation approach.

Step # 4. The Sales Meeting:

The heart of the selling process is the meeting that takes place between the prospect and the salesperson. At this stage of the selling process the salesperson will spend a considerable amount of time presenting the product. While the word “presenting” may imply the seller is taking center stage and does most of the talking by discussing the product’s features and benefits, in actuality successful sellers find effective presentations to be more of a give-and-take conversation.

Additionally, the meeting is not just about the seller discussing the product, rather much more takes place during this part of the selling process including:

i. Establishing Rapport with the Prospect – Successful salespeople know that jumping right into a discussion of their product is not the best way to build relationships. Often it is important that, upon first greeting the prospect, the salesperson spend a short period of time in a friendly conversation to help establish a rapport with the potential buyer.

ii. Gaining Background Information – The salesperson will use questioning skills to learn about the prospect and the prospect’s company and industry.

iii. Access Prospect’s Needs – Taking what is learned from the prospect’s response to questions, the salesperson can determine the prospect’s needs. To accomplish this task successfully, sellers must be skilled at listening and understanding responses.

iv. Presenting the Product – The salesperson will stimulate a prospect’s interest by discussing a product’s features and benefits in a way that is tailored to the needs of the customer. Part of this discussion may include a demonstration of the product.

v. Assess the Prospect – Throughout the presentation the seller will use techniques, including interpreting non-verbal cues (e.g., body language), to gauge the prospect’s understanding and acceptance of what is discussed.

Step # 5. Handling Buyer Resistance:

It is a rare instance when a salesperson does not receive resistance from a prospect. By resistance we are referring to a concern a prospect has regarding the product (or company) and how it will work for their situation. In most cases, the resistance is expressed verbally (e.g., “I don’t see how this can help us.”) but other times the resistance presents itself in a non-verbal fashion (e.g., prospect facial expression shows puzzlement).

While handling sales resistance may sound like a difficult part of selling, most successful salespeople actually welcome and even encourage it as part of the selling process. Why? Because it is an indication the prospect is paying attention to the presentation and may even have an interest in the product if the resistance can be effectively addressed.

To overcome resistance, salespeople are trained to make sure they clearly understand the prospect’s concern. Sometimes prospects say one thing that appears to be an objection to the product but, in fact, they have another issue that is preventing them from agreeing to a purchase. Salespeople are rarely able to make the sale unless resistance is overcome.

Step # 6. Closing the Sale:

Most people involved in selling acknowledge that this part of the selling process is the most difficult. Closing the sale is the point when the seller asks the prospect to agree to make the purchase. It is also the point at which many customers are unwilling to make a commitment and, consequently, respond to the seller’s request by saying no. For anyone involved in sales such rejection can be very difficult to overcome, especially if it occurs on a consistent basis.

Yet the most successful salespeople will say that closing the sale is actually fairly easy if the salesperson has worked hard in developing a relationship with the customer. Unfortunately some buyers, no matter how satisfied they are with the seller and their product, may be insecure or lack confidence in making buying decisions. For these buyers, salespeople must rely on persuasive communication skills that help assist and even persuade a buyer to place an order.

The entire process is a wasted effort if sale does not take place. Hence, it is important for the sale to materialize.

A few of the effective closing techniques are:

i. Action Close – Here the sales person takes an action that will complete the sale like negotiation for supplying financial assistance to the prospects.

ii. Gift Close – The salesperson may provide an added incentive on immediate purchase.

iii. Benefit Close – Here the salesperson restates the benefits of the product in order to elicit a positive response from the prospect.

iv. Direct Close – It is a simple technique and is most appropriate if the buyer is showing strong positive buying motives. The salesperson gives a summary of the major points of the presentation and directly asks for the order.

v. Alternative Close – This technique provides the customers with alternatives with regard to the product like a black or red colour one or payment in cash or on credit basis.

vi. Objection Close – If an objection is the major hurdle in the way of making sales, the salesperson should try to gain a commitment from the buyer that if the objection is removed he will buy the product.

Thus, the close is the most important part of the selling process since all the efforts and presentation comes down to this moment.

Step # 7. Account Maintenance:

While account maintenance is listed as the final activity in the selling process, it really amounts to the beginning of the next sale and, thus, the beginning of a buyer-seller relationship. In selling situations where repeat purchasing is a goal (compared to a one-time sale), following up with a customer is critical to establishing a long-term relationship.

After a sale, salespeople should work hard to insure the customer is satisfied with the purchase and determine what other ways the salesperson can help the customer to be even more satisfied with the purchase. The level and nature of after-sale follow-up will often depend on the product sold.

Expensive, complex purchases that require installation and training may result in the salesperson spending considerable time with the customer after the sale while smaller purchases may have the seller follow-up with simple email correspondence.

By maintaining contact after the sale the seller is in a position to become more accepted by the customer who invariably leads to the salesperson learning more about the customer and the customer’s business. With this knowledge the salesperson will almost always be presented with more selling opportunities.


Personal Selling Process – 7 Important Stages: Prospecting, Pre-Approach, Approach, Demonstration, Handling Objection,Closing and Feedback

Personal selling or salesmanship itself is a process. There are several stages involved in the process and a salesman has to understand all the stages in the process to make the process more effective.

The following are the stages:

Stage # 1. Prospecting:

Prospecting refers to collecting the names, addresses and contact details of the prospective customers. The salesmen would like to visit these prospective customers for the purpose of sales. This stage involves a virtual preparation of a database.

Stage # 2. Pre-Approach:

This stage involves collecting information about the prospective buyers who have been identified in the previous stage. Such an understanding of the prospective customers before approaching them puts the salesmen in a much stronger position to deal with the prospective customers. The information about the prospective customers relates to their buying habits, their tastes and preferences, their decision making process, behaviour pattern and personality traits.

Stage # 3. Approach:

Approach refers to the actual interaction with the prospective customers. This is the stage where the salesmen get an opportunity to make presentations about the product to the prospective customers. This stage is very important as the decision to buy or not is made by the prospective customers is greatly influenced by this stage.

Stage # 4. Demonstration:

The salesmen during this stage have to demonstrate and also explain the various product features to the customers. Certain products cannot be sold without demonstration. A salesman should go by the AIDA approach-The demonstration should get the customers Attention, hold their Interest, build-up the Desire for the product and end in purchase Action.

Stage # 5. Handling Objections:

Any customer will have certain doubts and objections regarding the product. The salesmen have to give a patient hearing to the complaints and grouses of the customers and solve all the doubts. This stage is almost a question and answer session. The salesmen require a high degree of patience to make this stage successful.

Stage # 6. Closing:

This is the stage during which the salesmen have to close the process by clinching the deals. For this purpose, the salesmen should overcome all the objections. This is the stage during which the prospective customers are converted into actual customers.

Stage # 7. Feedback:

After getting the order, the salesmen still have to be in touch with the customers to ensure that the goods are supplied properly and the goods have reached the customers. This stage also enables the salesmen to secure information about the customer satisfaction levels and helps them to approach the customers again. The success of this stage establishes goodwill for the manufacturer.


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