Personal selling is a promotional method in which one party (e.g., salesperson) uses skills and techniques for building personal relationships with another party (e.g., those involved in a purchase decision) that results in both parties obtaining value. In most cases, the “value” for the salesperson is realized through the financial rewards of the sale while the customer’s “value” is realized from the benefits obtained by consuming the product. However, getting a customer to purchase a product is not always the objective of personal selling. For instance, selling may be used for the purpose of simply delivering information.
* Building Product Awareness – A common task of salespeople, especially when selling in business markets, is to educate customers on new product offerings. In fact, salespeople serve a major role at industry trades shows (see the Sales Promotion tutorial) where they discuss products with show attendees. But building awareness using personal selling is also important in consumer markets. As we will discuss, the advent of controlled word-of-mouth marketing is leading to personal selling becoming a useful mechanism for introducing consumers to new products.
* Creating Interest – The fact that personal selling involves person-to-person communication makes it a natural method for getting customers to experience a product for the first time. In fact, creating interest goes hand-in-hand with building product awareness as sales professionals can often accomplish both objectives during the first encounter with a potential customer.
* Providing Information – When salespeople engage customers a large part of the conversation focuses on product information. Marketing organizations provide their sales staff with large amounts of sales support including brochures, research reports, computer programs and many other forms of informational material.
* Stimulating Demand – By far, the most important objective of personal selling is to convince customers to make a purchase. In The Selling Process tutorial, we will see how salespeople accomplish this when we offer detailed coverage of the selling process used to gain customer orders.