Personal selling can be termed as the oral presentation given by the salesperson to one or more than one consumer face to face to sell the product or service. Personal selling is a highly peculiar form of promotion. It is mostly two-way communication, which not only involves a particular individual but also social behavior.
The intention is to deliver the right product to the right customers. Depending upon the complexity of product, personal selling plays an important role. Industries manufacturing technical products like laptops, computers, digital phone, gadgets, etc., likely depend on personal selling as compared to the other manufactures.
The reason behind this is to explain the features of the product, tackle the customer queries and provide the best customer service. The competition in the market has increased today and therefore the importance of the salesperson in the organization.
Salespersons are also called salesman or salesgirl or sales representative and their payment is made as the commission to push the product in the market by motivating the customer through oral conversation.
The consumer wants all kinds of goods and services in the market but lack of interest keeps them away from making decisions or purchasing products. This is where the salesman needs to act as a catalyst and explain the product or service to the customer. He/she should motivate the customer by giving a presentation and he may sometimes act as a consultant. This helps the consumer to make a decision.
In case of technical products, the salesperson plays a more vital role as compared to the promotions. It becomes difficult for the customers to make decision while purchasing high value products with complex nature. The salesperson helps the customers by making personal contact with them and making them understand the quality and utility of the product.
Objectives of Personal Selling
Personal selling contributes in achieving the long-term objectives for the organization.
The following are some of the objectives of personal selling:
- To do the complete selling job when there are no other components in promotional mix
- To provide service to the existing customers and try to maintain contacts with the present customers
- Identify and find new prospective customers
- Promote the products to increase sales
- Provide the information to the customers regarding the change in product line
- Provide assistance to the customers to help in decision-making
- Provide technical advice to customers for complex products
- Gather the data in relation to market and provide it to company’s management
The reason behind setting personal selling objectives is to make decision on sales policies and personal selling strategies, which helps in promoting the product. The objectives are set for long-term, as it becomes the important element for qualitative personal selling objectives.
The objectives can also be quantitative if they are short-term and it could be adjusted from one promotional period to another. The quantitative personal selling objective is related to sales volume objective. Hence, the sales volume objective should also be explained.
Theories of Personal Selling
There has been a lot of research by behavioural scientists and marketing scholars to examine whether selling is an art or science and various theories have been developed to explain the buyer-seller buying process. The process of influencing others to buy may be viewed from four different angles on the basis of different theories: thus there are four theories of selling viz.
- AIDAS theory of personal selling
- “Right Set of Circumstances” theory of selling
- “Buying Formula” theory of selling
- “Behavioral Equation” theory
The first two of the four above-mentioned theories, are seller oriented and the third one is buyer’s oriented. The fourth one emphasizes the buyer’s decision process but also takes the salesperson’s influence process into account.
AIDAS Theory of Selling:
This theory, popularly known as AIDAS theory (attention, interest, desire, action and satisfaction), is based on experimental knowledge. This theory is very common.
According to this theory potential buyer’s mind passes through the following stages:
- Attention Getting:
It is the crucial step in the AIDAS process. The objective is to put the prospect into the right state of mind to continue the sales talk. The salesperson has to convince the prospect for participating in the face-to-face interview. A good beginning of conversation may set the stage for a full sales presentation. The salesperson must apply his social and psychological skills to draw the attention of the prospect to his sales presentation.
- Interest Creating:
The second step is to intensify the prospect’s attention so that it involves into strong interest. To achieve this, the salesperson has to be enthusiastic about the product. Another method is to hand over the product to the prospect and let him handle it. Brochures and other visual aids serve the same purpose. Throughout the interest phase, the hope is to search out the selling appeal that is most likely to be effective.
- Desire Stimulating:
After the attention getting and creating interest, the prospect must be kindled to develop a strong desire for the product. This is a ready-to-buy point. Objection from the prospect will have to be carefully handled at this stage. Time is saved and the chances of making a sale improved if objections are anticipated and answered before the prospect raises them.
- Action Inducing:
If the presentation has been perfect, the prospect is ready to act, that is, to buy. Very often there may be some hesitation on the part of the prospect at this stage. The salesperson should very carefully handle this stage and try to close the deal effectively. Once the buyer has asked the seller to pack the product, then it is the responsibility of the seller to reassure the customer that the decision was correct.
The customer should be left with the impression that the salesperson merely helped in deciding. After the sale has been made, the salesperson should ensure that the customer is satisfied with the product. The salesperson should sense the prospect’s mind and brief his talks.
“Right set of circumstances” Theory of Selling:
It is also called the “situation-response” theory. It has its psychological origin in experiments with animals. The major emphasis of the theory is that a particular circumstance prevailing in a given selling situation will cause the prospect to respond in a predictable way. The set of circumstances can be both internal and external to the prospect. This is essentially a seller-oriented theory and it stresses that the salesman must control the situation in such a way as to produce a sale ultimately.
“Buying Formula” Theory of Selling:
The buyer’s needs or problems receive major attention, and the salesperson’s role is to help the buyer to find solutions. This theory purports to answer the question: What thinking process goes on in the prospects’s mind that causes the decision to buy or not to buy? The name “buying formula” was given to this theory by strong.
The theory is based on the fact that there is a need or a problem for which a solution must be found which would lead to purchase decision, as shown below:
Whenever an individual feels a need, he is said to be conscious of a deficiency of satisfaction. The solution will always be a product or service or both and they may belong to a producer or seller. The buyer develops interest in buying a solution.
In purchasing, the “solution” involves two parts:
- Product or service or both,
- The brand name, manufacturer or the salesperson of the particular brand name:
The product or service (Brand name) must be considered adequate to satisfy the need and the buyer must experience a pleasant feeling or anticipated satisfaction. This ensure the purchase.
Behaviour Equation Theory of Selling:
This theory is a sophisticated version of the “right set of circumstances” and this theory was proposed by Howard, using a stimulus response model and using large number of findings from behavioural research. This theory explains buying behaviour in terms of purchasing decision process, viewed as a phase of the learning process, four essential elements of learning processes included in the stimulus response model are drive, cues, response and reinforcement, which are given below, in brief:
- Drive is a strong internal stimuli that impel buyers’ response. Innate drives stem from psychological needs and learned drives such as striving for status or social approval.
- Cues are weak stimuli that determine when the buyer will respond. Triggering cues activate the decision process whereas new triggering cues influence the decision process.
- Response is what the buyer does.
- A reinforcement is any event that strengthens the buyers’ tendency to make a particular response.
Howard believed that selling effort and buying action variables are multiplicative rather than additive.
Therefore, Howard incorporated these four elements into a behavioural equation that is:
B = P × D × K × V
P = Response or internal response tendency, i.e. the act of purchasing a brand or a particular supplier.
D = Present drive or motivation level
K = “Incentive potential” that is, the value of product or brand or its perceived potential value to the buyer.
V = Intensity of all cues: triggering, product or informational.