What is the difference between Sales (Personal selling) and Direct marketing?

Personal selling is a face-to-face communication between seller and buyer to make a sale. Simply put, Personal selling is selling personally. A personal presentation or demo is given by the seller to the potential buyer.

In Direct marketing too, an individual or group of prospects are targeted but it doesn’t involves a face-to-face interaction, and the sales efforts are not as forceful or intense as compared to Personal selling. Direct marketing allows a business to engage in one-way communication with its customers. It helps organisations inform the prospective buyers about product announcements, special promotions, etc.Examples: direct mail, e-mail, apps, telephone calls (telemarketing), catalogues, fliers, promotional letters,` etc.

We will discuss Personal selling and Direct marketing in detail along with their advantages and disadvantages.

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Explain Personal Selling and the role that professional sales people play.

Personal selling is a face-to-face communication between seller and buyer to make a sale. Simply put, Personal selling is selling personally. A personal presentation or demo is given by the seller to the potential buyer.

It is a direct presentation of a product to a potential customer by a representative of an organisation selling the product. Personal selling is an important arm of business-to-business promotion activity as the buyers need detailed demo of the product. The products are generally expensive and complex in their functioning. For example, generators, rotary encoders, PLC machine, and the likes.

This mode helps the seller to come in direct contact with the buyer. It is carried out by the sales people or agents of the seller and can have one or more prospect buyers. It is a personal conversation and may not result in sales but the organisation is greatly benefitted by getting first-hand information from the customers (interested or not, feedback, expectations, etc.).

For example, sales representatives from an organisation personally meeting potential buyers by visiting their offices or homes.

It becomes highly important part of promotion strategy if the market is highly concentrated, product has high unit price, is complex and requires demonstration. Furthermore, when a new product is launched or product is to be as per the individual needs (tailor made), personal selling is given more priority than other promotion tools.

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Discuss Sales Force Management Decisions.

Sales Force management is the planning, analysis, implementation of the plan and evaluation of the sales force functions in the target market.

The major steps involve –
1) Designing sales force objective and strategy
2) Sales force size
3) Recruitment and selection
4) Training and motivation
5) Compensating
6) Supervising
7) Evaluation and control of sales people

1) Designing sales force structure and strategy – The objectives give foundation to the individual objectives of the salesmen. The objectives layout details on what the organisations focus will be. It can be focussing on new customers, new product, existing customers or existing products. Not only should the management focus on sales targets, but also market performance, customer relations and service, supporting the marketing functions. The objectives give platform for measuring the performance of the sales function and the salespeople. Today the sales people are not just responsible for generating sales but are the “account managers” who are a single point of contact for an existing customer with the organisation. For example, an insurance agent maintains a long term relationship with a client educating about the insurance policy, collecting payments, resolving any issues, etc.

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How sales and marketing complement each other?

Contribution of Salespeople to the Marketing effort-

People working in the sales department often make more money than people from other marketing departments. Salespeople are in touch with the customers on a daily basis. They exactly know what the customer’s needs are.

The salespeople pass on information from the buyers in the market to other members in the organisation. The information can be shared via various vehicles of communication. Instead of just relying on third party research data, it is in the best interest of the organisation to invest in systems or methods wherein information can be gathered from the salespeople. The feedback from a salesperson can even result in making changes to the product features, faster delivery, or even change in the packing for easy handling.

Salespeople are also a source of information about the competition in the market. Most of the customers often counter a sales-pitch by talking about a better feature or better price in the competitor product. This gives opportunity for the management to work on its weakness, and consolidate its market presence by making changes basis the feedback received from the market.

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Discuss various sales strategies utilized by sales people. Also, explain the different stages of the sales process.

These sales strategies differ depending on the customer. These are divided into four categories – Script based selling, Needs-satisfaction selling, Consultative selling, and Strategic partnering.

Script based selling – In this strategy, the sales people rely on a standardised sales script. When an organisation believes that not all the salespeople can make a sales-pitch that results in sales, it makes an effort to make a standard script which has proved results in the past. Some salesmen are good at convincing customers, so the management takes help of these salesmen in creating a standard script. This standard script is shared with all the salesmen for sales-pitch. Basically, a salesmen is given different scripts to memorise or points to remember. Then the salesman asks different questions to a potential buyer. Depending on the response from the customer, the salesman utilises the scripts he was trained on to answer and convince the buyer. The points that meet the buyer’s needs are given emphasis in the talk. For this kind of selling, an organisation can employ fresh graduates with no sales experience. They are given training on standard scripts and points to remember to make an effective sales-pitch.

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