i'm taking a class in marketing. one of the last chapters in
the textbook discusses personal selling. reading through it,
i couldn't help but notice strong similarities with an activity
we all used to engage in, especially on Saturday mornings.
read these excerpts and see if you see what i mean...
Salespeople create value of both their employers and their
customers. They create value for their employers by collecting
information on customer needs, wants, and problems sot that the
company can create better products. They also find new customers,
service accounts, handle transactions, and increase sales and
Personal selling can be an organization's largest operating expense
and is the largest marketing expense. Because the average cost of a
business-to business, face-to-face sales call is over $300,
salespeople must get results. Many organizations have recognized
the value of personal selling. Most businesses have sales forces and
even professional services have learned selling skills.
When people think of personal selling, the activities that most often
come to mind are those involved in order getting. Order getting is
developing business by seeking out potential customers, providing
them with necessary information about products, and persuading
them to buy.
Order taking is the routine completion of transactions after
customers have already decided to buy. Order takers must be able
to answer questions, make price or payment adjustments, handle
complaints, and inform customers of changes in products or
supporting services. Well-trained order takers alert their companies
to possible new business. Order takers can also be order getters.
Good order getters fully understand the products they are selling,
how to find their customers' needs, and how to solve customers'
problems. Winning over buyers requires selling skills. According to
one survey, buyers are reluctant to switch suppliers even when there
are good reasons to change. Overcoming the challenge requires
salespeople to convince buyers that they offer superior value.
Support salespeople help order getters and order takers in a variety
of ways but do not conduct actual sales transactions with the
organization's customers. There are two main types of support sales
people: missionary salespeople and technical specialists.
Missionary salespeople perform promotional activities. They
perform tasks that help stimulate greater demand for the product.
(isn't that one of the CO's main activities -- encourage more field
Many firms practice relationship selling in which salespeople
develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with
customers. Customers often value more involved relationships than
order taking. They want to collaborate with trusted salespeople who
offer in-depth counseling on purchasing decisions, help find
imaginative solutions to problems, support them within the
salespeople's companies, and have high ethical standards.
STEPS IN THE SELLING PROCESS
The process for selling involves seven steps:
1. prospect for customers (field service)
2. prepare for sales calls (the Ministry School/Service Mtg)
3. approach qualified prospects (field service)
4. make sales presentations (presentations)
5. handle objections ("conversation stoppers")
6. close sales (make the "placement)
7. build long-term relationships ("return visits")
Personal selling begins with prospecting, or identifying potential
customers. Salespeople must locate individuals that could be buyers
for their products.
These buyers can be put into three categories: Leads (individuals
that are potential customers), Prospects (individuals that have an
interest in the product), and Qualified prospects (individuals that
are willing to buy, can afford to buy, and have the authority to
purchase the product). Obviously, the last category includes the
best bets for salespeople, but they are the hardest to identify.
Salespeople often start out with a long list of leads, narrow it down
to prospects, and narrow it further to fewer qualified prospects.
PREPARE FOR SALES CALLS
Preparation means the salespeople find out more about their
qualified prospect and, if necessary, make certain they know the
benefits of their product. Once preparations are made, they plan an
approach or initial contact to the qualified prospect. The goals of
the approach are to learn more about the customer's needs, gain
attention, and stimulate interest. The most foolproof way to get
prospects' attention and interest is to have a potential solution for
During the approach, salespeople ask questions and gather
information from the potential customer. Some salespeople
establish rapport in a friendly manner, use a pleasant voice, and
offer an opportunity to chat before getting down to business.
The sales presentation communicates information to customers,
with the goal of stimulating further interest. The traditional
approach is for salespeople to describe and demonstrate specific
product attributes and to explain how they can benefit the prospect.
In addition, value-oriented selling requires that communication flow
in both directions. Salespeople often begin a presentation with
open-ended questions that help uncover information about
prospects' wants and needs. Salespeople can help build long-term
relationships, rather than merely completing a single sale, by
identifying not only how a particular product can help, but also how
the organization could work with its clients.
TYPES OF PRESENTATIONS
In a stimulus-response presentation, salespeople try to offer the
appropriate information (stimulus) at the right time to get the
customer to buy (response). One form of stimulus-response
presentation is suggestive selling, in which salespeople ask
customers if they would like particular information.
The formula selling presentation is somewhat more rigid, based on
the idea that product information must be provided in a thorough,
lockstep format. Although the sales information is conveyed
sequentially, good salespeople are flexible enough to answer
questions or stop during the presentation to explain product features
that customers don't understand. An important feature of this type
of presentation is that it reduces the risk of omitting important
The need-satisfaction presentation emphasizes asking questions
and listening to customers' answers in order to nail down their
needs and desires. Once salespeople have identified these, they
present the benefits of their products or organizations and how
these can satisfy needs and solve problems.
In the sales situation, objections are prospects' reasons for not
making purchases. Objections are based on costs, benefits, or both.
They also may occur because prospects do not see a need or want
Skilled salespeople know when objections are valid and show
respect for prospects' wishes by backing off; perhaps that prospect
will become a customer in the future. But the same salespeople also
recognize when objections become an opportunity to further
showcase the product's benefits. For instance, if prospects compare
the salesperson's products unfavorably with the competition,
salespeople can show ways in which they are better suited to the
prospects' needs. Salespeople can explain how a weakness in a
product is outweighed by other strengths.
BUILD LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS
In relationship marketing, the closing is not the end of a sale.
Instead, value-driven salespeople continue building long-term
relationships with customers. Relationship-building activities,
including follow-up sales calls, are geared toward making sure
customers are satisfied with their purchases. Effective follow-up
contributes to a customer's evaluation that an exchange (purchase)
was beneficial and delivered value. Customers who make such
evaluations about an exchange are more likely to become repeat
from Marketing - Creating Value for Customers
by Gilbert A. Churchill, Jr. and J.Paul Peter