The Ultimate Guide to Personal Selling Strategy

In the past, the term sales by default meant personal selling. Cut to modern times, the technique is only used to warm up a prospect and close a deal owing to technological advancement, globalization, and huge travel expenses. 

In other words, personal selling must be an integral part of the sales mix which includes email marketing, tele calling, promotional activities, public relations, and advertisements. If you’re a sales professional, mastering the skill is an obligation to success.

Definition of personal selling

When a sales professional meets a potential buyer physically to sell a product or service, it’s called personal selling. Considered the most traditional selling means, at present sales has a lot more to do than simply hosting one-to-one meetings. The reason traces to the enormous investment from both sides- seller and buyer. 

For instance, the time spent in preparing for a meeting, commuting to a place, and conducting a meeting always adds to the cost. Hence, a sales professional should consider the type of product, its value, and the probability of conversion before opting for the technique.

But face-to-face meetings haven’t lost their importance in the contemporary scenario. That said, B2B businesses lose 68% of customers due to indifference or perceived lack of interest. In such a case, a sales meeting can be an effective strategy to show that a business cares for its leads by spending valuable resources(time and funds).

While 40% of leads might agree to attend sales meetings, the rest 60% need to be convinced that a meeting can work wonders in adding value to their businesses.

Different approaches to personal selling

  1. Target the right set of prospects

Before booking personal meetings, businesses should achieve ROI by choosing the potential prospects through an all-inclusive lead qualification process. While not every meeting will convert, you can get closer to the sales stats by asking a few questions:

  • The size of sales and business
  • Whether your offering can meet the prospect’s demands
  • Whether building a strong relationship with DM can fetch more business in the long run
  • Whether the meeting is worth closing a sale or what if the DM doesn’t have much time and prefers to get in touch over other channels
  • Value to be delivered in the sales meeting

2. Prepare to serve beyond expectations

Many a time salespeople come unprepared in the meeting which irritates buyers. Rather than listening to the buyer’s needs, they come up with a typical sales pitch in the meetings. You should challenge such conventions. Buyers however don’t like the pushy attitude of sales professionals. Instead, they attach value to someone who’s a good listener, promises success in their businesses, and offers relevant info.

In other words, you should actively listen to your buyers and write every minute detail spoken off. The behavior will help build credibility on the seller’s side. Also over-prepare yourself from every aspect. When you research the prospect’s company, find out its stats, problems, budget, and goals. Then, place your solution tailored to the objectives. Your presentation should project how the offering can be the best fit for the lead’s business strategy.

3. Add value in the meeting

A business should continue to provide support once the lead signs the contract. Such an attitude will demonstrate its awareness, interest in helping the prospect company achieve its goals over time. 69% of buyers state primary research data is the best way to add value in the very first meeting. Apart from that, 95% of buyers choose to purchase from sellers who offer relevant content at every stage of the journey. While the budget to be spent on research and content strategy depends on the size of the deal, salespeople must explore the basics of prospects until meeting them face to face.

Using a company’s tools to collect data around the prospect and its rivals can provide extra insights within the funnel. You can follow certain principles to make a presentation- present an analytic study of the top findings, explain how your offering can meet the discovered challenges, send the undermined data, and analyze it to the DM. Besides, ask the content team to create multiple assets(blogs, videos, infographics, ebooks) on FAQs, and issues related to the industry. This will help send additional info(links) during or after the meeting.  

4. Use collaborative words in the journey 

If you want to be the best sales rep in the industry, use unified words like “we”, “us” rather than using “I” or “me”. This attitude will make your leads feel togetherness while accomplishing their business goals. Throwing intellectual, penetrating questions around business challenges met with the ideal solutions can take you one step ahead in the funnel. No matter how you make things happen, ensure that your lead considers the outcome as a partnership.

5. Frame a storyline

Frame your pitch with an impressive storyline rather than just stuffing figures because people are more likely to remember your story over time. Maintain a flow with a beginning(present), middle(the transformation), and end(final results).

If you’re presenting case studies, stick to the same form. Telling the story of your company in terms of relevance can attract buy-in. Here, you will be seen as a friendly brand and not an unidentified label.

6. Follow-up after making a presentation

A good sales rep will follow up with both leads and clients post-presentation. For instance, if a prospective lead is doubtful about the benefits of your offering, you can address his thoughts then and there. On the other hand, if the person has agreed to make a purchase, you should confirm his satisfaction without missing out.

Pros and Cons of personal selling

Pros:

  • It paves the way for elaborate and personalized communication between the business and its potential leads.
  • Provides sales team the chance to address any challenge, query, or objection before closing the deal.
  • Allows personal contact between a business and its leads.

Cons:

  • It’s an expensive method.
  • The technique requires more effort, time, and thoughts with a personalized approach.
  • Doesn’t support reaching out to a wider pool of leads simultaneously.

Regardless, businesses can overcome such disadvantages by expounding a specific sales process. 

Stages of personal selling

Personal selling comprises 7 significant steps-

1. Prospecting

The first step in the process is identifying potential leads which can be done through inbound marketing, in-person networking, cold calling, or online research. Lead qualification constitutes a crucial part of this step.

2. Pre-Approach

At this stage, salespeople should get ready to connect to the leads for the first time. Here carrying in-depth research on the internet about the prospect, the market they’re into and the industry bears special significance. Other than that, the sales team should prepare and rehearse a presentation customized to the leads.

3. Approach

This step entails establishing initial contact with a lead by reaching out, giving an introduction, and kicking off a thread of conversation. The purpose can be achieved over phone calls, video calls, in-person meetings, or emails.

Since the motif traces to exploring the lead, his needs, wants and problems, sales professionals should ask questions about whether or not their offering can solve the challenges. If yes, how can it serve the concerns?

4. Presentation

This involves giving presentations to the leads to demonstrate a particular product or service. Moving forward, sales reps should convey how an offering can benefit the lead using the info gathered in the previous stages. If the presentation isnt good enough, the chance of penetration into the subsequent stages would fall short.

5. Handling objections

Once the presentation is delivered, prospects are likely to shoot various questions and objections, if any. Ideally, a sales rep should clarify any misconception about the offering, handle the possible objections, and resolve the presented queries without sounding salesy. If the nature of the salespeople turns out to be pushy, it might lead to a loss of credibility.

However, it should be noted that the motif of this stage isn’t necessarily changing the lead’s mindset or compelling them to buy the offering. Instead, it’s to learn how a business can help him in experiencing the ideal solution. Either way, you should ask the team to follow up if the lead doesn’t have any questions.

6. Closing

After breaking through the barriers, the sales team should try to finalize the deal through negotiations, payments, contracts, invoices, or documentation. Its a crucial step to deliver the best offering without compromising on quality. That said, if a customer faces any backlog in the process, it would impact the reputation of the company like anything.

7. Follow-up

Final selling ends with follow-up where the sales team connects to the customer in a bid to clinch a delightful customer experience or smooth onboarding. The stage is crucial to prolong or enhance relationships with clients in the long term. If the customers are happy, they will turn out as brand advocates someday.

Objectives of personal selling

  • Establishes a brand and creates awareness about its products or services by educating customers.
  • Boosts sales by identifying the right kind of leads and closing deals through persuasion.
  • Personal communication and active engagement help build strong relationships with customers.
  • Provides consistent support to customers in case of technical, complex, and pricy offerings.
  • Stimulates the demand of a brand’s offering by helping leads take purchase decisions.
  • Reinforces brands by celebrating prolonged relationships with customers.
  • Paves way for quick communication as it involves one-to-one interaction.

Types of personal selling

Personal selling can be classified into 3 types based on the type of sales activity and the involved salesman:

1. Order Takers: They are the telemarketers, retail sales assistants responsible for identifying customers’ needs and streamlining them towards the ideal inventories. 

2. Order getters: They are the sales personnel deployed in the field who fetch new customers and persuade them to make direct purchases.

3. Order creators: They don’t close deals but approach customers to promote a brand’s offering, thus driving sales. 

Example: Pharmaceutical companies reaching out to doctors and asking them to prescribe medicines manufactured under a specific brand name. 

Real-life examples of personal selling

Retail stores: Popular retail stores like Ikea, Walmart employ salespeople who guide customers in choosing the ideal product tailored to their needs and wants.

Door-to-door sales: It is prevalent in both B2B and B2C businesses where salespeople are employed for visiting potential leads’ homes, workplaces to educate them about particular offerings and convince them to buy those products.

B2B outreach: In B2B houses, sales staff reach out to prospective leads either physically or virtually to interact with them in a personalized way and land into a deal.

Perspectives of Personal Selling based on Industries

Software Industry

When people buy software within a company or department, a salesperson has to clarify the whole suite of tools and other solutions to the customers. Hence, personal selling is the most effective strategy in the industry.

Catering Industry

In the given sector, companies offer services based on various occasions all by a customized approach. Here, salespeople are deployed to connect to prospects and explore their needs for better service. Once the deal is closed, they handle the execution of the availed service and follow up with the client after the event is over.

Travel industry

Since the travel industry doesn’t cater to any tangible product, it requires a greater foundation of trust between both parties. Therefore, when meeting a customer, a salesman has to detail every bit of experience, converse intimately to understand his wants(interests, food restrictions, schedule for the vacation), and present multiple options before him for making the final purchase.

Office equipment industry

Since the competition in this sector comes quite tough, the sales team has to be very analytical in making the prospect company consider a brand’s offering as the best choice(how can it address the given demands).

Real estate industry

Apart from the steep cost of properties, the industry stays highly competitive unlike anything as customers visit a lot of sellers and agents before making the final decision. Hence, the challenge is to find out the right lead as per the given offering.

Key takeaways:

  • What are the 7 steps of personal selling?

Prospecting

Pre-approach 

Approach 

Presentation 

Meeting objections 

Closing sale

Follow-up

  • What is the ultimate goal of personal selling?
  1. Foster relationships to retain customers
  2. Boost repeat business
  3. Promote a brand by word of mouth referrals
  • How do you effectively make personal selling?
  1. Maintain a natural flow of conversation(don’t act)
  2. Adopt a personalized approach
  3. Pay attention to the leads’ personas
  4. Ask as many questions as possible
  5. Focus on product’s benefits
  6. Address customers’ problems individually
  7. Check if leads are willing to purchase
  8. Follow up after closing deals
  9. Resort to an email tracking software
  • What is the most important step of personal selling?

Prospecting

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