Personal selling

Personal selling is oral communication with potential buyers of a product (good or service) with the intention of making a sale. It is focus initially on developing a relationship with the potential buyer, but will always ultimately end with an attempt to close the sale.
It involves the use of a sales force to support a push strategy (encouraging intermediaries to buy the product) or a pull strategy (where the role of the sales force may be limited to supporting retailers and providing after-sales service).

What are the main roles of the sales force?

Kotler Has described six main activities of a sales force, they are:
(1) Prospecting - trying to find new customers

(2) Communicating - with existing and potential customers about the product range

(3) Selling - contact with the customer, answering questions and trying to close the

(4) Servicing - providing support and service to the customer in the period up to
delivery and also post-sale

(5) Information gathering - obtaining information about the market to feedback into
the marketing planning process

(6) Allocating - in times of product shortage, the sales force may have the power to
decide how available stocks are allocated

the advantages of using personal selling as a means of promotion
• Personal selling is a face-to-face activity; customers therefore obtain a relatively high degree of personal attention

• The sales message can be customised to meet the needs of the customer

• The two-way nature of the sales process allows the sales team to respond directly and promptly to customer questions and concerns

• Personal selling is a good way of getting across large amounts of technical or other complex product information

• The face-to-face sales meeting gives the sales force chance to demonstrate the product

• Frequent meetings between sales force and customer provide an opportunity to build good long-term relationships

Given that there are many advantages to personal selling, why do more businesses not maintain a direct sales force?

disadvantages of using personal selling

The main disadvantage of personal selling is the cost of employing a sales force. Sales people are expensive. In addition to the basic pay package, a business needs to provide incentives to achieve sales (typically this is based on commission and/or bonus arrangements) and the equipment to make sales calls (car, travel and subsistence costs, mobile phone etc).

In addition, a sales person can only call on one customer at a time. This is not a cost-effective way of reaching a large audience.