Personal selling involves one individual exchanging a service, a product or a benefit to a third party, usually referred to as a client or customer, for financial reward. A good salesperson builds healthy business relationships with clients in the hope of securing repeat business but in the modern age, consumers have more choice over where they purchase their goods and services. Changes in buying patterns continue to affect personal selling, particularly in instances where the customer has an aversion to hard-sell techniques and persistent salespeople.
Transfer of information
Online and offline advertising only have so much effect and the knowledge of a salesperson frequently becomes an influencing factor for customers who need to find out more about products and services before committing to a purchase. A number of tools at the disposal of a salesperson, such as computer presentations, sales exhibitions and advanced technical data, provide key information that push through the sale.
Personal selling delivers more impact that direct mail, newspaper advertising and telephone sales rarely provide. Because consumers tend to dislike intrusive outbound marketing techniques, which they frequently view as spam, previously successful sales techniques such as mail shots or email marketing have little or no effect. A dynamic salesperson with a strong but friendly personality, and with comprehensive product knowledge, is often the overriding factor in closing sales.
Many customers miss traditional sales patter, a lost art that owes much to the growth of the Internet and a reduction in the size of sales teams within major business operations. Sometimes, a customer needs the reassurance of face-to-face interaction before they place faith and trust in the products or services on offer.
Even the best salesperson in the world can only visit a certain number of customers. When allocating time to presentations, negotiations and taking orders, which can take 2 to 3 hours at a time, fewer customers are pitched on a daily basis. Newspaper campaigns have a wider local or national reach while Internet marketing campaigns have global reach as long as the product or service warrants it.
Add the cost of a salesperson’s salary, vehicle, fuel, travelling time and commissions together, and personal selling suddenly becomes an expensive luxury businesses can overcome by using different sales techniques. Online sales campaigns, in particular, provide a cost-effective alternative to personal selling with the benefits of added reach, strong conversion rates and the fast reproduction of successful sales formulas.
Customers rarely have the time or desire to talk to salespeople, particularly when they know a hard-sell approach will almost inevitably follow. Passive marketing techniques where positioning of products lead to qualified inquiries provide a more popular alternative for those who have been sold products they didn’t really want in the past.
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