In this economy selling is very important because each and every sale ensures the sustainability of your business. Just a few more extra sales could mean the difference between keeping your doors open or shutting them for good.
When you come up with your own product or service you need to know about selling because without sales you sadly won’t have a business. As the owner of a product or service, you will need to at least initially do the selling yourself because you know the most about your product or service.
Nothing happens in business until a sale is made. What this often repeated statement means is that a business can conceptualise a product or service, research, develop and trial it among prospects but the ultimate test of its success comes when a sale is made.
How are sales made? How does selling a loaf of bread different from selling a house, car or a large machine tool centre? How can you improve your personal selling no matter what you sell?
What is selling? You will come across many definitions of selling such as where a buyer exchanges cash for a seller’s product or service. The definition that makes the process clear and easy to understand is: personal selling is face-to-face selling in which a seller attempts to persuade a buyer to make a purchase.
This exchange satisfies a need, want or desire on the part of the buyer. A buying motive is the reason why a customer will purchase a product or service. Buying motives can be emotional or psychological such as the need for love and affection, curiosity, fashion, athletics, pride and prestige, sex and romance or fear. Rational buying motives could include economy (saving time or money), utility (usefulness), comfort and convenience, durability and security.
A problem-solving approach to personal selling views customers as having “problems” which they need to “solve”. This approach is effective because the sales person can adjust and individualise his or her presentation to the prospect’s specific problem. A problem-solving sales process is the basis of what is referred to as consultative selling. Using this approach, the salesperson helps the buyer reach a better decision.
Personal selling can be viewed as a process which has several definite steps:
- Prospecting (finding potential customers)
- Qualifying (are prospects likely to purchase and do they have the money?)
- Approaching the customer (for an appointment)
- Presentation (use of personal skills and demonstration to persuade the prospect)
- Closing the sale (leading the buyer to commit to a purchase).
For a large sale item such as a machine tool centre, computer system or jet, the sales process may take up to a year or longer. For lower value items such as stoves, outdoor leisure equipment and furniture, the sales process could take minutes.
Personal selling may have become more expensive because putting a salesperson on the road is costly but it remains vital to securing business in many markets.