Personal selling occurs where an individual salesperson sells a product, service or solution
to a client. Salespeople match the benefits of their offering to the specific needs of a client.
Definition : A form of person to person communication in which a salesperson works with
prospective buyer and attempts to influence purchase in the direction of his or her
company’s products or services
It provides human touch to business transaction.
It promotes long term business relationship.
It enhances customer confidence
It helps in understanding the pulse of the customer.
It helps in customizing the product.
Helps in convincing the customer about the product.
Changing Face of Personal Selling
Modern sales approach is based on the following parameters
1. Value Sharing: Salespeople study the changing needs and preferences
of their customers.
2. Relation Building: A value-based relationship helps the salespeople to
constantly mobilise resources and modify the end product by catering
to the specifics of the buyer.
3. Role Playing: The salespeople, in personal selling, go far beyond
realising sales. Sales people act as consultants to their prospective
customers constantly advising them of new products, their updates
and impart knowledge to them.
4. Changing Approach: Personal selling comes in a package containing
the inputs of the experts from different areas such as
maintenance, installation, trouble shooting, delivery staff, sales
Objectives of Personal Selling
Personal selling objectives may be:
Short-term personal selling objectives are more specific and of short-
term duration. These objectives change very frequently as soon as there is
change in production mix. Further, they are usually quantitative
Long-term personal selling objectives are broad and general. There is
very little scope of change in long-term objectives. They are usually
Some long term objectives of personal selling are:
1. enhances customer’s confidence in the seller.
2. promotes long-term business relations through personal intimacy.
3. provides a human touch to business transactions.
4. helps facilitate the seller to understand each customer’s needs and
preferences more clearly.
5. helps satisfy a customer by modifying the product as per the
customer’s choice and preference.
6. helps build long-term relations between the business and the
7. helps keep up with the competition in the market, based on product
customization as per customer’s preferences.
8. convincing the customer about the product.
9. the time lag between introducing a product throug the media and
actually selling it is reduced.
Functions of Personal Selling
Personal selling is an oral presentation in face to face conversation with
one or more prospective customers for the purpose of making sales. The
main functions of personal selling are as follows:
1. Provide service to customers (Introduce the product, explain the right
use, Convince them etc.)
2. To sell the product
3. Maintain the sales record
4. Develop goodwill
5. Achieve sales target
Benefits of personal selling
1. Availability of expertise
2. Early access to relevant market information
3. Availability to be flexible regarding processes, timing
4. Faster, shorter contracts
5. Economies of information sharing
6. Lower cost of selling
7. Knowledge of other uses or applications
Steps in Personal Selling
Successful personal selling calls for an integrated approach devised from
the experience of the sales personnel. The approach comprises the steps
as shown in the figure here. Each of these steps are further described in
Steps in Personal Selling
Prospecting is the process of identifying prospective buyers of the
product. A prospect is qualified if he has the authority, need, ability and
eligibility to buy. There are different ways to identify prospects. Some of
the most frequently used methods are described below:
Personal Observation Method
Direct Mail or Telephone Method
Pre-approach is the second step in the selling process which emphasises
that the salesman should know, after identifying the prospect in the
prospecting stage, the prospect’s likes and dislikes, his
needs, preferences, habits, nature, behaviour, economic and social status
Significance of Pre-Approach
1. Salesman concentrates only on the prospects and not the suspects.
2. Salesman gain all the possible information about the prospect before
approaching him. Hence any kind of loose talk or serious mistake can
3. He is able to give a sales presentation more efficiently, effectively and
4. It does not waste the prospect’s time and energy since the salesman
is already aware of the needs and preferences of the prospect.
Usage of Prospecting Time
Sales force must plan its time in such a manner that maximum time is
made available for those prospects who are likely to give a large volume
of business to the company.
To avoid this wastage of time, grading of the prospects will be an
In this stage the prospect and the salesman come in contact with
each other face to face.
The salesman has an opportunity to understand and interact with the
prospect in a better way.
Salesman should put forward his best efforts to make the best use of
this opportunity in getting the attention of the prospect and to
convince him to buy the product.
Getting the attention of the prospect and persuading him to buy are
the two main objectives of a salesman.
The following points specify the importance of a successful approach:
i. A successful approach enhances the sale and it is thus important for
the running of a business.
ii. A failed approach will give an opportunity to the rival company. So a
good approach will go a long way in building good relations with the
prospect while a bad approach will not only result in losing business but
will also make it easy for a competitor to tap new customers.
iii. The approach helps in enlightening the prospect by providing him
ample information about the product, price, competitor’s
product, benefits etc. that he can derive from the product.
Key guidelines for successful approach
Quick presentation creates a good impression.
Attractively packaged, decorated and well- organised.
Should explain the product with its features and price advantage to
the customer in simple and easy terms.
Customer be shown the kind of quality that he is looking for.
Helps the salesman to prove the features of the product and
emphasise its genuineness.
Demonstration is an exercise to prove the characteristics of the
It highlights various attributes of the product such as utility,
performance, service and quality.
It is only during the demonstration that the customer gets an
opportunity to verify the facts about the product.
Demonstration is imperative and essential for a prospect to make a
This is the last stage of any sales presentation.
The main aim of the close is to convince the prospect to sign the
order form or to place an order immediately rather than in the
It is also important that through proper planning, prospecting,
presentation and demonstration the salesman should try to capture
the attention of the prospect and not let the prospect change his
Various Selling theories
This is a simple model describing the various actions associated with the
1. Show features: it is the very first stage; expected to show the features
of the product, demonstrating how it works, and showing the results of
using the product immediately.
2. Explain advantage: Immediately, after demonstrating the
product, explain the advantage possibly related with the
features, showing the advantages which ate derived from it.
3. Lead into benefits: Correlate the advantages with the benefits. This is
simply highlighting the materialization of those benefits in
conducting the set of activities due to having/using the product.
4. Let them talk: Then at the end, let them talk further about the
product, its features and those future benefits. If the previous steps
are done well, they will talk themselves for the sale.
This is another simple model describing the various actions associated
with the word itself, “Slaid” acronym for sales steps.
1. Show the product: Showing the product in full or showing specific
function is also possible in the beginning, just to trigger the
anxiety or curiosity in their mind. It is not a full product
demonstration. Demonstration comes a bit latter state in this
2. Listen: A partial demonstration flash triggers a lot of questions, or
estimations or expectations, in case if the product is absolutely new
3. Acknowledge: Your hearing will endorse that you have understood
and are ready to fulfill their needs. You may be given elaborative further
deep information about their objection.
4. Identify: Identify the objections, and bring them on a squaring off
situation with contents offered by your product. If possible, set up
a concession clause, balancing the benefits of new product over the
old objections, so that you can handle the objection and will get the
5. Deliver: Ask the participants to repeat the demonstration to build the
confidence about the product performance.
Theories of Personal Selling
There are three main theories of personal selling, which are as follows:
Right Set of Circumstances Theory
Buying Formula Theory
this theory is based on the premise that during a sales presentation, the
prospect consciously goes through five different stages: Attention,
Interest, Desire, Action and Satisfaction.
Attention: The salesperson should attract the prospect to his
presentation before he actually goes into the details of the same.
Interest: He/she should maintain the interest of the prospects
throughout the presentation.
Desire: The next step in the sales process, as per the AIDAS theory, is
to create a strong desire in the prospect’s mind to purchase his product.
Action: Once the salesperson has been successful in taking his
prospect through the three stages, as discussed above, he should
induce the prospects into actually buying the product.
Right Set of Circumstances Theory
The advocates of this theory opine that all the circumstances, which led to
the sales, were appropriate or “right” for the sales to have taken place. In
other words, if the salesperson is successful in securing the prospect’s
attention, maintaining his interest and inducing his desire to buy the
product, sales will result. Moreover, if the salesperson is highly skilled, he
will take control of the presentation, which would lead to sales.
Buying Formula Theory
The buying formula theory is based on the analysis of the sequence of
events that goes on in the buyer’s mind during the sales presentation.
Thus, the theory emphasises on the factors internal to the prospect and
the factors which are external, i.e., influence of the salesperson on his
prospect’s decision to buy his product. The theory is based on the
presumption that the salesperson will take care of the external factors.
The sequence of events in a prospect’s mind can be represented as
There are all the chances that a continuous relationship will develop
between the prospect and the salesperson. As a result of sales, the
satisfaction will also come in the sequence. This sequence can be
Need Solution Purchase
--Pure, Monopolistic, Oligopolistic, No Direct Competition
Personal Selling Objectives
-- Qualitative & Quantitative
Determining the kind of sales personnel
--Product Market Analysis, Salesperson’s role in securing orders,
choice of basic selling style
Determining the size of the sales force
--Workload, Sales Potential, Incremental
Individualizing selling strategies
Large number of buyers and sellers
No one powerful enough to control or influence market prices
No buyer or seller is so big which can impact the product’s total
demand and supply
All products are identical, no differentiation
All buyers are aware of all sellers’ prices
Not a real world situation and hence no company concerns
itself with a particular personal selling strategy for Pure
Many competing producers sell products that are differentiated from
one another (ie. the products are substitutes, but are not exactly alike)
Easy for additional competitors to enter the market
Advertising differentiates the brand in the minds of final buyers and
stimulates selective demand
Key element in marketing strategy is the ability to differentiate the
product ( by both Advertising and Personal Selling)
Personal Selling’s role is that of servicing the distribution network
and stimulating promotional efforts by the middlemen
Number of competitors are small enough that they are individually
identified and known to each other
Difficult for new competitor to enter the market
Successful organizations keep on growing and less successful disappears
Oligopoly produces most aggressive competition
Strategies of one player has deep impact on the strategies of other players
Personal Selling Strategy plays important role in building and
maintaining dealer cooperation, in servicing distribution network and
in gathering information on competitor’s activities
No Direct Competition
Both monopoly or oligopoly have indirect competition
They vie sellers in other industries for the same prospects’
interest and buying decisions
Even in case of no direct competition, personal selling and
advertising plays an important role
Both require the effective implementation of personal
selling strategy in terms of both kind and number of sales
personnel even in case of indirect competition
Choosing pricing strategy calls for effective implementation of
personal selling strategy
Vary with competitive setting
Carried from one operating period to another
When qualitative objectives change, there are changes in
nature of sales jobs and size of the sales force
Vary with competitive setting
Adjusted from operating period to operating period
Since short term, they impact more upon the size of the sales
force than upon the nature of the sales job