Salesmanship or Personal Selling is the oldest and most common form of promotion. It involves direct selling to the prospective buyer. It is a face to face and oral communication with the potential customer for the purpose of persuading the buyer to buy a particular product or service. It is an important method of understanding the needs, nature and behavior of prospective customers and gives them full information about the product or service in question. The information obtained helps the entrepreneurs company manufacture the product or craft the service(s) according to the demand of customers or buyer. Being personal in nature, it is an indispensable technique of promotion.
A firm undertakes personal selling with the following objectives:-
- To introduce new product or service with a personal touch.
- To create demand for the products or service so that it becomes in demand and accepted.
- To clarify the doubts of customers personally.
- To create effective selling at the least cost and to secure repeated sales.
- To provide valuable feedback to the managers, supervisors and the company.
Success of personal selling depends upon the skills of the salesperson, the framework in which they work, as well as increasing their knowledge and experience. An effective salesman should be completely aware of the product/service and should be able to convince the prospective buyer. They should also know well about the company/firm they are representing and be able to answer all the queries of the customer’s.
To be effective, a salesman should have the knowledge of the following types:-
- Knowledge of self :- They should be able to make the best use of their personality by continuously assessing themselves and analyzing their qualities in the light of the requirements of their job. This will help them to improve upon their strengths and overcome their weaknesses through training and experience.
- Knowledge of firm :- They should be fully conversant with the history of the firm. They should also have a thorough knowledge of the objectives, policies, standing and organizational structure of the firm. Such knowledge will help them to utilize the strong points of the firm in personal selling.
- Knowledge of product :- They should be able to convince customers about the features and utility of the product by removing their doubts and objections. Thus, they should have full knowledge about the nature of the product/service, relevant details, terms and conditions of sale, distribution channels used and promotional activities.
- Knowledge of competitors :- In order to prove the superiority of his product, they must have full knowledge about the competitive products, their positive and negative features. Knowledge of competitors’ sales policies, their brands and prices, etc, is also helpful.
- Knowledge of customers :- In order to be successful, they must use the right appeal and approach. They should be able to understand the prospects correctly and quickly; and to motivate and win them permanently. They should, therefore, have complete knowledge of the nature and type of customers (their age, location, sex, income, education, etc.) and their buying motives (low price, convenience, prestige, fashion, etc).
- Knowledge of selling techniques :- Above all, good sales representatives should be well-versed in the principles and techniques of salesmanship. They should pay undivided attention to the customer, be courteous and sympathetic towards customers, never loose patience, consider customer as the king, aim to build permanent customers and goodwill, serve the customer in the best possible manner, etc.
Personal selling has the advantage of being more flexible in operation in contrast to mass or impersonal selling through advertising. Salesmen can tailor their sales presentation to fit the needs, motives and behavior of individual customers. They can observe the customer’s reaction to a particular sales approach and then make necessary adjustment on the spot. The seller can select the target market for its product/service and concentrate only on the prospective customers.
Personal selling is more effective as compared to other tools of promotion because it leads to actual sales.