Personal selling is one part of a company’s promotion mix, along with advertising, sales promotion, and public relations. Advertising is any form of paid sales presentation that is not done face-to-face. Television and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and direct mail inserts are well-known forms of advertising.Personal Selling is a face-to-face communication, personal correspondence, or a personal telephone conversation. Unlike advertising, a personal sales message can be more specifically targeted to individual prospects and easily altered if the desired behavior does not occur.
* 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.
* Reinforcing the Brand – Most personal selling is intended to build long-term relationships with customers. A strong relationship can only be built over time and requires regular communication with a customer. Meeting with customers on a regular basis allows salespeople to repeatedly discuss their company’s products and by doing so helps strengthen customers’ knowledge of what the company has to offer.