Personal Selling

Introduction

Sales staff are crucial for retailers, financial firms and all organisations that sell products and services. They perform a number of functions but their ultimate goal is to make sales. Let's talk through the actions that will help them make sales.


The diagram below shows the tasks involved in personal selling

Personal Selling Diagram

Provide the Right Information

Customers often make contact with sales staff because they would like information. For example product features, upgrade options and technical specifications. To build personal credibility and customer trust, sales staff need to provide accurate information. They need to answer the customer's questions in a way that the customer understands, ensuring that they have provided relevant and necessary information. This will provide customers with the reassurance that they have selected a firm with qualified and knowledgeable staff who can help them.

Represent Your Organisation

Sales staff represent represent the organisation they work for. Representing the organisation not only involves having a smart and clean appearance but also having a polite, likeable and friendly manner. Sales staff must act with integrity and leave a lasting positive image about the organisation, its employees and the products it sells. Every customer interaction is important regardless of whether it generates a sale. A positive customer experience helps future sales from the customer and also everybody that they mention the organisation to.

Identify Customer Needs

Sales staff need to ensure that their interaction with customers enables them to identify customer needs. Needs can be identified through a combination of the customer stating their needs without being prompted and the sales person asking them questions (open and closed). If the sales person builds rapport with the customer, the customer is more likely to provide the information needed to identify customer needs. Honesty and integrity are very important so the sales person must fully establish customer needs and limit the chances of misselling.

Prioritise Customer Needs

Customers often have a range of needs. For example

However not all products and services (offered by the firm) may satisfy those needs; to deal with sales staff should prioritise customer needs. Once needs have been prioritised, products that meet the needs that are the most important to the customer can be selected. Identifying and prioritising customer needs provides a personalised service and helps the customer weigh up purchase options.

Promote Products and Services

As the overriding objective for the sales person is to make sales, customer care and customer needs identification should be balanced with promoting the products sold by the firm. Product promotion involves selling the features of the product which are likely to enhance the customer's life or appeal to the customer. Enthusiasm is a key sales person attribute; without enthusiasm it is unlikely that you will be able to get customers excited about the organisation and its products.

Make the Sale

All of the actions listed (above) if followed through properly should generate sales; ideally this will be an immediate sale but on other occasions the customer may come back at a later time. Making the sale involves recognising when it is time to close the sale and then having the ability to close the sale. Sales should not be closed at all costs otherwise the sales person risks creating a negative and aggressive view of themselves and their organisation.

There are a number of ways to close the sale e.g. the assumptive close i.e. offering the customer sales transaction options such as delivery, accessories and colour options. The most effective closing technique will depend on the customer, product type and the skill/experience of the sales person.

Personal Selling

Customer Care

A sales person needs to make sure that the customer is looked after during the pre-transactional stage, the sales transaction and post transactional stage. Lack of care before and during the sale may jeopardise the immediate sale and poor customer service post sale will jeopardise future/repeat business. Customers accept that products fail often it isn't the product failure but the manner in which the problem is resolved that will leave a lasting impression about an organisation in customer's minds. Although post sales may not seem part of the sales person's role, customers will often contact them post sale as they the person (from the firm) that they know and built a relationship with.

It is the post transactional stage that can leave a lasting impression on the consumer. If the product fails, the sales person needs to make sure and reassure the customer that the problem will be resolved. If this customer care is right the customer may become an advocate for the firm as described in the Ladder of Customer Loyalty.

Summary

The effective sales person has a number of tasks to carry out, not all customer interactions will lead to a sale but sales staff need to ensure that as many interactions as possible are more than merely providing customer advice.

 

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