The 8 step personal selling process. process of selling
AIDA selling system
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The complete set of steps that must take place in order to execute a
salestransaction from start to finish. The selling process may include such events as
the initial contact, productdemonstrations, trialperiods, bidding, pricenegotiations,
signing of contracts, and delivery of the product or service being sold
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The 8 Step Personal Selling Process - let us help
Personal selling is the most expensive form of advertising and to be effective one should use a step by step
process to gain the most benefit. Personal selling can adjust the manner in which facts are communicated and
can consider factors such as culture and behaviour in the approach. They can ask questions to discover the
specific need of the customer and can get feedback and adjust the presentation as it progresses.
The Personal Selling Process
The personal selling process is a consecutive series of activities conducted by the salesperson, the lead to a
prospect taking the desired action of buying a product or service and finish with a follow-up contact to ensure
Prospecting - the first step in the personal selling process
The process of looking for and checking leads is called prospecting or determining which firms or individuals
could become customers.
Up to 20% of a firm's customer base can be lost for reasons such as transfer, death, retirement, takeovers,
dissatisfaction with the company and competition. A steadily growing list of qualified prospects is important for
reaching the sales targets.
Qualifying a prospect: A lead is a name on a list. It only becomes a prospect if it is determined that the person or
company can benefit from the service or product offered. A qualified prospect has a need, can benefit from the
product and has the authority to make the decision.
This stage involves the collecting of as much relevant information as possible prior to the sales presentation. The
pre-approach investigation is carried out on new customers but also on regular customers. Systematic collection
of information requires a decision about applicability, usefulness and how to organise the information for easy
access and effective use.
The salesperson should always focus on the benefits for the customer. This is done by using the product's
features and advantages. This is known as the FAB technique (Features, Advantages and Benefits).
Features : Refers to the physical characteristics such as size, taste etc.
Advantages : Refers to the performance provided by the physical characteristics eg it does not stain.
Benefits : Refers to the benefits for the prospect. Eg.Saves you 20% on replacement cost.
The Sales Presentation
After the prospects interest has been grasped, the sales presentation is delivered. This involves a "persuasive
vocal and visual explanation of a business proposition". It should be done in a relaxed atmosphere to encourage
the prospect to share information in order to establish requirements. Some small talk may be necessary to
reduce tension but the purpose always remains business.
The Trial Close
The trial close is a part of the presentation and is an important step in the selling process. Known as a
temperature question - technique to establish the attitude of the prospect towards the presentation and the
Objections are often indications of interest by the prospect and should not be viewed with misgiving by
salespeople. The prospect is in fact requesting additional information to help him to justify a decision to buy. The
prospect may not be fully convinced and the issues raised are thus very important. It also assists the salesperson
to establish exactly what is on the prospect's mind.
Closing the Sale
This is the last part of the presentation. Many salespeople fear the closing of a sale. Closing a sale is only the
confirmation of an understanding. Fear will disappear if the salesperson truly believes that the prospect will enjoy
benefits after the purchase of the product.
The sale does not complete the selling process. Follow-up activities are very important and are useful for the
establishment of long-term business relationships. It is important to check if the products have been received in
good condition, to establish the customer is satisfied etc
The 7 Steps of the Sales Process
1. Product Knowledge
This step is fairly straight forward, but it is also the great undoing of many a technical expert turned sales
person. When one is extremely well versed in a particular product especially a technical one, it is easy to
get caught up in a monologue of all the great features it provides.
The technical expert turned sales person is so eager to explain how the product works or why it’s unique
that the benefits to the customer are left out of the discussion. Never assume that a prospect will easily
link a feature to a benefit. That relationship must be stated clearly (something done in the presentation
step 4, after the needs assessment step 5). The acquiring of product knowledge for a “technician”
therefore, is less about the features of the product itself, and more about how the customer will benefit
from those features. When discussing product, the technicians mantra should be; “So what?” Consider
those two words to be what the prospect thinks every time a feature is mentioned, and re-learn your
product from that perspective.
Prospecting, just as the word implies, is about searching for new customers. Like product knowledge, this
step may seem fairly straight forward but upon closer examination it becomes more complex. The key to
prospecting effectively is knowing where to dig and what to look for. It’s also important to distinguish
between a lead, a prospect, and a qualified prospect. The most important element in this step is to create
a profile of existing customers. This may have been done at your company, but have approach tactics
(step3) been tailored to match each profile. For instance, you may have identified the following major
market segments: State Governments, County Governments, Consulting Firms, Federal Agencies, Utilities,
Universities, but have you fully profiled each of these in order to adjust marketing tactics appropriately?
A direct mail, seminar invitation might work well to generate State Government leads, but will it be
effective in developing Consulting Firm leads? For each market segment do you really know what the
ideal customer looks like? These questions should be answered fully in the “Tactics” portion of a
In the broadest sense, prospecting is an ongoing process that everyone in the company (particularly the
sales force) should be involved in. This simply means everyone should have their “prospecting radar” up
when they are out and about in the world. Very often, a great lead turned customer was first discovered
after being heard or seen in the news at a party, or event, etc.
3. The Approach
This is where the rubber meets the road in the sales process. For our present purposes lets consider the
approach in the context of a sales call rather than lead generation (i.e. the difference between a mass
mailing and a telephone call). This is the step where you begin to build a relationship and the intelligence
gathering continues (it started with prospecting). A good approach is crucial to sales success because it
will either identify you as a bothersome salesperson and cause a prospect’s guard to go up, or it will
identify you as an obliging salesperson with something of value to offer. (There is probably a middle road
too, but you get the idea.). Consider the example of tele-marketers selling a seminar:
Their product is a seminar, about which they presumably have sufficient knowledge. They prospect by
scanning the house lists for appropriately titled leads, (generated by earlier prospecting efforts). They
approach by saying “I’m Jay from XYZ and I’m calling to follow up on an invitation to a seminar that we
mailed to you last week. Do you recall receiving it?” Then the dialog begins, often it’s perfunctory, other
times however it can be extremely informative. The difference more often than not depends on how
astute and articulate the caller is. What do you think is good about this approach? What do you think is
Quite often the type of call one makes is a follow up to some action i.e. seminar attendance, brochure
mailed, etc. Technically these calls are part of follow up step 7, but let us address them in the context of a
sales approach. What would be a good approach for each of the above follow up actions? Think about
eliciting information and advancing the sale (closing, step 6). What would be a good approach for a cold
Additional Note on recording information: Regardless of the type of call or the results, it is important to
take detailed call notes and schedule a subsequent action item, no matter what it is be it a week, a
month, or a year down the road. (One can invent a system of abbreviations to make this easier i.e. LVM =
left voice mail.) History notes are important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is tracking
where a prospect is in the sales process, including what follow up is necessary and when. Noting that
“packet was mailed” or “attended seminar” or “inquired about model” is only half the information and
not the most important. Why?
4. The Needs Assessment
This is arguably the most important step of the sales process because it allows you to determine how you
can truly be of service. To be a highly effective salesperson, that is to sell to the prospect’s needs, you
first have to understand what those needs are. This means you must think in terms of solving a prospects
problem. The only way to do that is by asking lots of questions. Does a health practitioner prescribe
remedies before a thorough exam? Asking good questions will not only help you determine what will best
suit the prospects needs, but it builds confidence, trust, and will very often help the prospect consider
issues they may never have thought of. This last point is powerful because it provides an opportunity to
showcase features, which the prospects answers led you to. What questions would you ask to illustrate
how your product is different/better than a competitor’s. Although intelligence gathering occurs
throughout the sales process, it is at step four where it happens in earnest. What other information
would be important to gather at this stage? (hint: who’s who, referrals).
5. The Presentation
Remember the discussion in step one, focus on benefits rather than features? If you consider your
product/service in terms of how it benefits the customer, your presentation will be a focused and
relevant dialogue rather than a self aggrandizing monologue. Nothing is worse than a sales presentation
which proceeds from the sellers perspective. This is why the needs assessment is so important and why it
will ideally flow in and out of this step. A good needs assessment allows you to tailor your presentation to
your audience, and keep it interactive.
6. The Close
Eighty percent of sales are lost because a salesperson fails to close. Closing is about advancing the sales
process to ultimately get an order. What you are trying to sell at each stage may be different. For
example, a close early in the sales process may be to get an appointment to discuss your product/service,
in that case you are selling an appointment not a widget. In a later stage you might need to meet with a
committee, in that case what you are selling is a meeting. Seeing the sale process in this light takes a little
pressure off of each encounter and makes things a bit more manageable. But don’t be lulled into
complacency, you must ultimately ask for the order and no sales conversation should ever end without
an agreement to some next step. Do not be satisfied with “we’ll get back to you”, where is the agreement
in that? What could you say in response to such a remark in order to advance the sale?
In large part, closing is about discovering obstacles. Have you heard these before: “I’ll need to think about
it.”, “It’s too expensive.”, “Let me run it buy some other people.” “Sounds good but I’ve already got one.”
What could you say to overcome these objections?
There are lots of ways to close, indeed closing a sale has become a science unto itself. Books have been
written on this topic alone. But there is one elemental truth – if you don’t ask you don’t get. Just for fun,
following is a sampling of a few closing techniques from among the many:
— The Ask For It Close. “What do we need to do to get this model into your organization?”
— The If-Then Close. “If I could demonstrate how an XYZ model provides you with, (things you know are
important based on the prospect needs assessment) then would you be willing to… demo, rent, buy,
— The Process Of Elimination Close. “So you like the model, you have use for it, it’s not too expensive!”
— The Either Or Close. “Will that be cash or charge?”
— The Lost Puppy Close. “I guess I didn’t do my job very well.”
Additional note: The question “How much does it cost?” Is a great buying signal yet it is a question you
want to avoid early in the sales process. What could you say to defer that question politely? When you do
mention price, don’t be afraid that they are too high, say it with pride. Don’t forget to ask for the referral.
Good follow up will double your closing ratio. When a sales person makes contact with a prospect a
relationship has been built, and follow up is how it is nurtured. Staying at the forefront of a prospect’s
mind requires persistence and should not be confused with being bothersome. This is why it’s important
to get agreement on some next step each time there is contact. Follow up therefore should never end.
The pace may slow but it will never end. When a sale is made, then a new type of follow up begins.
Follow up conversations are best handled by the salesperson who started the relationship. Who else can
better gauge a prospect’s “willingness to buy”, or pick up where “we last left off”. This means that
detailed notes must be kept on each prospect with particular emphasis on their “state of mind”. It is
unwise and ineffective to keep track of this information anywhere other than a centralized database.
Additional note: It’s important to hold some follow up ammunition in reserve. Overwhelming your
prospects with every piece of information you possess on their first request hampers your ability to stay
in touch. Having a stable of collateral materials gives you reason to follow up.
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On Hold Messaging
Point of sale
Selling is offering to exchange an item of value for a different item. The original item of
value being offered may be either tangible or intangible. The second item, usually money, is
most often seen by the seller as being of equal or greater value than that being offered for
A person or organization expressing an interest in acquiring the offered item of value is
referred to as a potential buyer, prospective customer or prospect. Buying and selling are
understood to be two sides of the same "coin" or transaction. Both seller and buyer engage in
a process of negotiation to consummate the exchange of values. The exchange, or selling,
process has implied rules and identifiable stages. It is implied that the selling process will
proceed fairly and ethically so that the parties end up nearly equally rewarded. The stages of
selling, and buying, involve getting acquainted, assessing each party‟s need for the other‟s
item of value, and determining if the values to be exchanged are equivalent or nearly so, or,
in buyer's terms, "worth the price.”
From a management viewpoint it is thought of as a part of marketing, although the skills
required are different. Sales often forms a separate grouping in a corporate structure,
employing separate specialist operatives known as salespersons (singular: salesperson).
Selling is considered by many to be a sort of persuading "art". Contrary to popular belief, the
methodological approach of selling refers to a systematic process of repetitive and
measurable milestones, by which a salesman relates his or her offering of a product or
service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way. While the
sales process refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, the
definition of the selling is somewhat ambiguous due to the close nature of advertising,
promotion, public relations, and direct marketing.
2Types of selling
4Personal selling process
Sales, finance and operations are the only functions that are indispensable to a corporation.
Every other role is considered support. The top person at a company is usually the CEO, who
is also the top salesperson who is responsible for bringing the company to potential investors
and customers. Support roles such as HR, Marketing, and Administration are now more
integrated in the sales organization. For example, in professional services organizations, a
key to succeed in sales is laid in the relationship with the HR organization, just as in shipping
companies depend on improvement in operations and logistics to make their services more
A vegetable seller in a rural Sri Lankan village
Types of selling
Selling is the profession-wide term, much like marketing defines a profession. Recently,
attempts have been made to clearly understand who is in the sales profession, and who is not.
There are many articles looking at marketing, advertising, promotions, and even public
relations as ways to create a unique transaction.
Two common terms used to describe a salesperson are "Farmer" and "Hunter". The reality is
that most professional sales people have a little of both. A hunter is often associated with
aggressive personalities who use aggressive sales technique. In terms of sales methodology a
hunter refers to a person whose focus is on bringing in and closing deals. This process is
called “sales capturing”. An example is a commodity sale such as a long distance sales
person, shoe sales person and to a degree a car sales person. Their job is to find and convert
buyers. A sales farmer is someone who creates sales demand by activities that directly
influence and alter the buying process.
Many believe that the focus of selling is on the human agents involved in the exchange
between buyer and seller. Effective selling also requires a systems approach, at minimum
involving roles that sell, enable selling, and develop sales capabilities. Selling also involves
salespeople who possess a specific set of sales skills and the knowledge required to facilitate
the exchange of value between buyers and sellers that is unique from marketing, advertising,
Within these three tenets, the following definition of professional selling is offered by the
American Society for Training and Development (ASTD):
The holistic business system required to effectively develop, manage, enable, and
execute a mutually beneficial, interpersonal exchange of goods and/or services for
Team selling has grown to become one of the most common ways to influence sales. Team
selling is “a group of people representing the sales department and other functional areas in
the firm, such as finance, production, and research and development”. (Spiro) Team selling
came about in the 1990s through total quality management (TQM). TQM occurs companies
work to improve their customer satisfaction by constantly improving all of their operations. If
a company decides to use a team-selling approach, there are some factors to consider.
1. The size and diversity of the team
2. Management will decide the reward of the individuals apart of the team and the whole
3. Strategic objectives will be the basis for the majority of the decisions in team selling.
Team selling is not always the best choice in all situations. Team Selling can be expensive
and should be used when there is a chance for high sales and profit. Companies will need to
weigh the pros and cons of the situation and base their decision on whether the approach will
match the needs of the buyer. If team selling is executed correctly it can offer advantages
1. By having two salespeople approach an account allows for “continuous learning”. Before,
after, and during presentations team members can help identify each other's flaws during their
portion of the sales pitch. They also may identify particular problems that may be preventing
a sale and also identify additional features to be added to their sales pitch to entice the
2. When a small company uses two salespeople to call on a client together it helps the image
of the company appear to be impressive and large. When companies use team selling it helps
identify them from their competitors.
3. Customers sometimes like a company which uses team selling because if they have a
concern or problem they have two salespeople they can contact to address their concern or
4. Team selling also shows prospective clients that the company does not only have one
person who has strong selling capabilities, but several of equal calibre. Allowing clients to
get to know more than one member at once will help give them a higher comfort level about
5. With effective team selling, the cost of sales calls will decline, however, the number of
people assigned to each sales call will double. This will increase their batting average which
will then increase their productivity.
A number of specific selling strategies come under the umbrella of sales or selling, including
Price based selling
Target account selling
Sandler Selling System
Personal selling process
The personal selling process is an eight step approach that has been found to be beneficial in
sales. The eight steps are: prospecting, preapproach, approach, need assessment, presentation,
meeting objections, gaining commitment, and following up.
Prospecting is the step where salespeople determine leads or prospects. After they figure out
potential customers, they must determine whether they are qualified leads, or leads who are
likely to buy. Qualified leads are those who have a need for the product, can afford the
product, and are willing to be contacted by the salesperson.
Next, the preapproach is used for preparing for the presentation. This consists of customer
research and goal planning for the presentation. Then comes the approach. This is when the
salesperson initially meets with the customer. It is helpful to schedule an appointment to
ensure capturing the buyer‟s attention. Since first contact leaves an impression on the buyer,
professional conduct, including attire, a handshake, and eye contact, is advised.
Following the approach is the need assessment. Salespeople should evaluate the customer
based on the need for the product. They should ask questions to reveal the current situation,
the source of any problems, the impact of the problems, the benefits of the solution, and the
interest of the buyer.
Once the salesperson knows the needs, he or she is ready for the presentation. The point of
this is to grab the customer‟s Attention, ignite Interest, create Desire, and inspire Action, or
AIDA. The salesperson can do this through product demonstrations and presentations that
show the features, advantages and benefits of the product.
After this comes meeting objections. Customers who are interested will voice their concerns,
usually in one of four ways. They might question the price or value of the product, dismiss
the product/service as inadequate, avoid making a commitment to buy, or refuse because of
an unknown factor. Salespeople should do their best to anticipate objections and
respectfully respond to them. Then, gaining commitment comes next. The salesperson can
use several different sales closes to move the sale forward. They can use the „alternative
close‟, the „assumptive close‟, the „summary close‟, or the „special-offer close‟, among
others. Finally, the salesperson must remember to follow up. Following up will ensure
customer satisfaction and help establish a relationship with the customer.
1. ^Philip Kotler, Principles of Marketing, Prentice -Hall, 1980
2. ^Greening, Jack (1993). Selling Without Confrontation. The Haworth Press, Inc. p. 23. ISBN 156024-326-0. Page image 
3. ^"American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)". Sales Competency Project.
4. ^Rustenburg, Gerbrand; Arnold Steenbeek (2012), Sales management, 4th ed., Noordhoff,
Groningen (NL), ISBN13 9789001807962,
5. ^ abcdeSpiro, Roseann; Gregory Rich, William Stanton (2008). Management of a Sales Force
(12th ed.). McGraw-Hill Irwin.
6. ^ ab"Personal Selling". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
7. ^Brown, Alex. "Chapter 20, Personal Selling and Sales Management, Class Notes". Retrieved
28 July 2012