Personal Selling Process

What comes to your mind when you hear the word "personal selling"? A smooth-talking salesman who makes you nod your head before you understand what he is saying? Repeated cold calls from a real estate agent who you've never met? A heart-warming, inspiring talk with someone from a company before you buy their product? Clearly, personal selling can be good or bad depending type of situation and the person handling it.  Let's look at the bright side and explore some features of an effective personal selling process.

Personal Selling Process Personal Selling Process

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Table of contents

    Personal Selling Process Definition

    Personal selling process is a one-on-one selling technique where the salesperson interacts directly with customers to sell a product or service.

    Businesses can conduct personal selling via email, phone, video, or in-person.

    It is more common in B2B and luxurious goods trading than everyday consumer goods.

    Personal selling process is a one-on-one selling technique.

    Examples of products commonly associated with personal selling are cars, houses, or insurance.

    Personal Selling Process Approach

    Personal selling can take a lot of time and effort. This method is used mainly in high-value or highly personalised product transactions.

    The personal selling process approach includes:

    • Face-to-face interaction - Personal selling requires the salesperson to meet customers face-to-face. In the past, sellers could only do this in person. Nowadays, video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Google Meet allow salespeople and prospects to meet online anytime, anywhere. This removes the geographical constraint and saves marketing effort.

    • Persuasion - Personal selling relies on the salesperson's interpersonal skills to convince customers to make a purchase. However, this doesn't mean salespeople can force the product on the customer. Instead, they listen to understand the prospect's needs and then provide relevant information to help them reach a buying decision.

    • Handling objections - Objections happen all the time in personal selling. It occurs when customers are not ready to make the purchase. The salesperson's job is to find out their concerns and address them.

    • Clear communication - The sales pitch should be informative and engaging. This may require the salesperson to prepare and practice the sales presentation before approaching the customers.

    Personal Selling Process Marketing

    The personal selling process is an integral part of marketing. Both B2B and B2C products can be sold using this method. However, there are several things that salespeople have to keep in mind when applying the personal selling process:

    Personal selling process: choose the right leads

    A lead is a person or an organisation interested in the product you're selling. However, not all leads are actual buyers.

    A person might be interested in a product but has no intention of buying it because they already have a similar one and do not have enough budget. When approached by a salesperson, they might make excuses to avoid the transition no matter how good the deal is.

    To save time and effort, companies need to choose the right leads.

    This is done through a process known as lead qualification. It means choosing customers based on their willingness to purchase the product and their budget. Companies can assess leads using a scoring model, in-depth research, and a suitable framework.1

    The key is to narrow the list of prospective customers (to the ones most likely to purchase) to reduce wasting marketing efforts.

    Personal selling process: create customer value

    The personal selling process should always put the customer first.

    This means the salesperson needs to listen to customers, provide relevant information, and help them reach a good decision.

    There should be no force-selling as it might destroy potential buying in the future. The customer might purchase this time but never return for another product.

    The ultimate goal of personal selling should be to offer a solution to the customer's problem.

    Personal selling process: use stories

    Genius entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin once said:

    People don't buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.

    One key to personal selling is to deliver a good sales pitch. This means keeping the audience's attention to the end and arousing interest.

    The way to do this is to use stories. Compile the sales pitch into a true, consistent, and authentic story.2

    Steps in the Personal Selling Process

    Now that you've known what personal selling is. Let's explore how it is conducted. There are seven steps in the personal selling process:

    1. Prospecting

    2. Pre-approach

    3. Approach

    4. Sales presentation

    5. Handling objections

    6. Closing

    7. Follow-up

    Personal selling process: prospecting

    Prospecting means looking for prospective customers or leads. Marketers can do this through online research, in-person networks or cold calls.

    One crucial part of prospecting is lead qualification. That means choosing the right lead to contact and approach with a sales pitch. This step is vital as unqualified leads can waste a lot of the company's time and resources. They won't make a purchase no matter how much effort you put into the sales pitch.

    Personal selling process: pre-approach

    After selecting the qualified leads, the salesperson must prepare for the first contact with them. This means contacting the prospect via email or call to learn more about their needs and to set up a meeting for further discussion.

    The primary objective of pre-approach is to collect customer data and prepare the sales pitch. No selling takes place at this stage yet.

    Personal selling process: approach

    When the solution is ready, the salesperson can approach and meet the customers in person (or by phone/video, depending on the situation).

    The first impression is essential here as it can make or break the coming sales pitch. The goal of the approach is simple, though not easily executed - "hook" the customers and create a smooth transition into the sales demonstration.

    Personal selling process: sales presentation

    The sales presentation is a crucial part of the personal selling process. A sales presentation is a pitch the salesperson delivers to convince customers to buy. During the pitch, the salesperson will discuss the product features and why the customers should purchase them. The key to a good sales presentation is to follow the AIDA model - capture attention, hold interest, arouse desire, and include a clear Call-To-Action.

    AIDA was developed by the advertising pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis.

    A landing page of a company's product or service is a good example of a sales presentation in written form. It consists of a captivating headline to capture the reader's attention, a list of product features and benefits, testimonials to justify claims and an actionable CTA.

    Personal selling process: handling objections

    The sales presentation is tough, but the actual challenge lies in handling customer objections. When you propose an idea, there's a good chance it will be rejected. This is not to say the customer will never buy your product, but they might not be ready to make the purchase quite yet.

    Objections can be genuine or mere excuses. It would require the salesperson to learn the reasons behind the objections to counter them.

    Personal selling process: closing

    Closing is where the sales process wraps up. Both parties have reached a decision. Closing means bringing the negotiation to an end and coming to an agreement.

    Personal selling process: follow-up

    Even when the deal is closed, the salesperson has to follow up to assure customers that the deal will be carried out correctly. After-sale follow-up is also an opportunity for the company to build long-term relationships with customers.

    Personal Selling Process Examples

    There are many examples of personal selling in real life. This section will look at three examples in the travel, real estate, and automobile industry.

    Personal selling process example: travel industry

    A lot of personal selling takes place in the travel industry, especially in holiday deals and packages. A good example is when a travel agent arranges a tour for clients in an unfamiliar city. In this case, he might want to contact a local tour guide and ask for a partnership.

    The process may require the travel agent to meet the local guide face-to-face and then discuss the reason and the benefits the tour guide can gain from the partnership. If the tour guide agrees with the condition, the travel agent can discuss further details such as customer needs and how the two parties will split the profit.

    Personal selling process example: real estate

    Personal selling is also commonplace in real estate. For example, in a property-buying deal, the real estate agent will meet the customer in person to discuss their needs and preferences for a home. He then looks actively in the market for property on sale and directs it back to the customer.

    If the customer likes the property, the travel agent will arrange a viewing date with the host. After viewing several properties, the customer can pick the one they want, and the travel agent will direct the buying request to the house owner. More negotiation will follow, and the deal is closed when both parties, the host and prospective tenant, reach an agreement.

    Personal selling process example: the automobile industry

    A car is also a product for personal selling as people spend a lot of money on them. A car deal would require the car seller to first email, text, or call the prospective buyer to see if they are genuinely interested and then arrange a test drive. During the test drive, the car seller can discuss the car's features and learn about the customers' specific needs and budget.

    Personal Selling Process - Key takeaways

    • Personal selling is a one-on-one selling technique where the seller interacts directly with the customer.
    • Personal selling is common in the transactions of high-value or highly personalised products.
    • The main features of the personal selling approach include face-to-face interaction, persuasion, handling objections, and clear communication.
    • Effective personal selling involves choosing the right leads, creating customer value, and using stories in the sales pitch.
    • There are seven steps in personal selling: prospecting, pre-approach, approach, sales presentation, handling objections, closing, and follow-up.

    References

    1. Neil Patel. What is Lead Qualification. https://sendpulse.com/support/glossary/lead-qualification.
    2. Seth Godin. Ode: How to tell a great story. 2016.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Selling Process

    What is personal selling process?

    Personal sellong process is an one-on-one selling technique where the salesperson interacts directly with the customers and convinces them to make a purchase. 

    What is the first step in the personal selling process?

    The first step in the personal selling process is prospecting. That is to research the prospective customers or so-called leads.  Lead qualification is an important part of prospecting. 

    What is the last step in the personal selling process?

    The last step in personal selling process is follow-up. This takes place after the deal has been closed. Follow-up assures customers the deal will be carried out as agreed. It is also an opportunity to build long-term relationships with customers. 

    How many steps are in the personal selling process?

    There are seven steps in the personal selling process. Those are: 

    1. Prospecting
    2. Pre-approach
    3. Approach
    4. Sales presentation
    5. Handling objections
    6. Closing
    7. Follow-up

    How to setting priorities in personal selling process?

    Priorities in personal selling process should be based on lead qualification. Prospects should be rated based on their willingness to buy and budgets. More prospective customers should be given higher priority to approach than those who are mildly interested in the business. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Personal selling is when the salesperson interacts _______ with the customers to sell a product or service.

    The salesperson's interpersonal skills have a big impact on the outcome of the personal selling process. 

    Closing is the final stage of the personal selling process. 

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