The Ultimate Guide to Personal Selling [Types, Steps, Benefits]

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Sales is a relay race.

Billboards, promotional videos, content, and brochures - strong marketing tactics take you to the 300m mark.

The last thing you want is to hand a hot lead to a robotic sales pitch…

Source

… when you'd rather be handing the baton to Usain Bolt, who'll take your team into first place and close the deal.

And in this metaphor, personal selling = Usain Bolt.

Through personal selling techniques, your sales reps can create meaningful human interactions with prospects, build solid relationships, and close deals.

So give us a couple of minutes of your time, and we'll:

  • Explain what personal selling is
  • Cover its three most important advantages
  • Walk you through the five-step personal selling process
  • Give you three personal selling tips and two examples

Let's get to it.

What Is Personal Selling?

Personal selling is a sales strategy that humanizes the selling process. It makes the interaction between the prospect and the sales rep warmer and more authentic, which tends to improve close rates. Traditionally, personal selling was only implemented in face-to-face meetings, but companies can now leverage these techniques in remote selling processes thanks to modern technology.

The purpose of personal selling is to build trust with the prospect, then persuade them to buy the product.

Within the small-talk, storytelling, and personalized interactions, prospects feel more comfortable that the person they're dealing with is genuine and trustworthy.

And during these conversations, the sales reps can influence the prospects to increase the likelihood of a purchase.

Don't believe us?

Then consider that 89% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a brand if the salesperson succeeds in changing their way of thinking.

Automated emails have their place, but you can't beat a personalized sales pitch.

The 3 Types of Personal Selling Reps

Personal Selling Reps

As you probably guessed from this section's heading, there are three types of sales representatives that benefit from personal selling:

Type

Features

Order takers

  • The customers come to them - they simply accept orders
  • They hold jobs like retail assistants

Order getters

  • They reach out to prospective customers
  • They're often telemarketers and account managers

Order creators

  • They create business for the company
  • Most often they are sales representatives

Let's take a closer look.

Order takers

Order takers, as the name suggests, take orders. Or, in other words, the customers approach them.

They come in two different categories:

  • Inside order takers
  • Outside order takers

The most common example of an inside order taker is a retail assistant. Customers come to the store with an idea of what they want. An order taker helps determine their needs and points them in the right direction.

For example, a retail assistant in a shoe store might suggest a type of shoe based on the customer's needs, or they might help find the correct size.

On the other hand, an outside order taker is a salesperson who visits customers. They are not, however, responsible for persuading the customer to purchase - they simply drop by to take orders.

Order getters

These are salespeople that reach out to prospective customers and sell to them.

Order getters make cold calls, send cold emails, research potential prospects, and visit clients on-site. Their job is to bring new customers to the business.

This group benefits the most from personal selling - regardless of whether or not they meet with prospects in person.

Personal selling strategies, like personalizing emails and automating as many admin tasks as possible to free up more time for sales conversations, help order getters humanize the sales interactions while still juggling a large number of prospects.

And these tactics work for any type of order getters, including:

  • Account managers: They oversee a company's relationship with a specific customer. They keep them updated on all developments, whether it's new products or special discounts.
  • Business development managers: These salespeople research new industries and markets in search of possible expansions. They are constantly looking for new growth opportunities and business relationships.
  • Telemarketers: Telemarketers reach out to a list of prospective leads to qualify prospects and nurture them towards a sale.

Order creators

This type of sales rep doesn't sell directly to the end consumer.

They create orders for the companies, and it's a common method in B2B selling.

An example of an order creator is a salesperson employed by a publisher. They contact college professors, for example, and persuade them to recommend specific books in their courses.

If they succeed, the professors recommend the books, and then the students become the company's customers.

The 3 Advantages of Personal Selling

Advantages of Personal Selling

So how does personal selling help these three different types of reps?

In three distinct ways:

1. Fosters better two-way communication

With most forms of advertising and selling, companies choose the tone and language of their advertisements in advance and hope for the best.

They only find out how well the customers responded to their messaging after the process has finished and they start analyzing the campaign's results.

Basically, they're sending messages into deep space, hoping someone will respond.

But with personal selling, sales reps don't have that problem. The prospect is on the other end of the line, and sales reps can quickly see if they're responding to the pitch.

If they are - great. If not, the sales reps can adjust.

They can ask questions, make the prospect laugh, and try every sales tactic they know to close the deal. Sales reps can also listen to what the customer says and what they don't say.

That allows sales reps to tailor each interaction to the prospect and their stage in the buyer journey.

2. Builds higher levels of trust

Did you know that 40% of US sales professionals rank trust as the #1 factor in closing deals?

Source

Well, if the prospect can have a conversation with the seller - if they can ask questions and have a frank conversation - it's bound to be more effective than one-way campaigns that often don't answer all their questions or treat them like an individual.

Personal selling establishes trust between the seller and the prospect, and that trust guides the prospect's decision to buy.

3. Offers an opportunity for honest feedback

Over the course of a conversation with a prospective buyer, a salesperson can gather a lot of actionable information. With the help of software, they can even track every aspect of their sales performance.

Part of the feedback is for the salesperson themselves - how to craft their pitches, which approach they should use, their tone, and their language.

But part of the feedback is about the product or service - the most common objections.

Maybe the prospects have a problem with the price. Or maybe the advertising campaign failed to properly communicate the product or service's benefits.

In many ways, personal selling can be a form of detailed customer research. It's a direct point of contact between the company and the customers, providing companies with an invaluable opportunity to gather customer feedback and make decisions based on their opinions.

At this point, you're probably asking yourself, "How do I get started with personal selling and leverage these advantages?"

Here's the answer:

The 5-Step Personal Selling Process

Personal Selling Process Steps

You need to implement the five-step personal selling process:

Step

Features

1. Identify the prospective buyer

  • Find companies that could benefit from your offering
  • Research the decision-makers to tailor the sales pitch

2. Contact

  • Establish contact with the prospect and create interest

3. Presentation

  • Present the product
  • Explain the benefits the product or service will offer to the prospect's business

4. Overcome objections

  • Gather feedback and dispel the prospect's doubts about purchasing

5. Close the deal

  • Pull the trigger and ask for the sale

Need a few more details than that?

Here you go - all the juicy details:

1. Identify the prospective buyer

During the first step of the personal selling process, salespeople must identify the industries and companies that could benefit from their product or service.

After they have identified the company, they need to go into research mode - they have to find the company decision-makers and dig up information about them that might help them craft their sales strategy.

And since the success of the rest of the sales process depends on the research the sales reps conduct, it's no wonder that:

But despite the difficulties, there are strategies sales reps can adopt.

Scouring the prospect's social media pages for useful information is a good start. Finding if they've earned any accolades for their work could be helpful - people love a compliment - and unearthing their perspectives by reading any articles they've written or contributed to is another smart personal selling strategy.

Last of all, conferences and trade shows can be a good place to get some face-to-face time with the prospect and learn more about them.

2. Contact

After they've identified the decision-maker, the salesperson has to contact them.

They can do this in a number of different ways - their approach is usually determined by what they've learned during the research stage.

They can approach the prospect in person. Conferences and trade shows often represent the optimum avenues for this tactic.

But this isn't a tactic that can be scaled easily. Sales reps don't have the time to personally chase down every prospect.

It's a good thing they don't have to.

Sales reps can opt for cold calling or cold emailing instead. By using a CRM, they can track their communications with the prospects and personalize their outreach campaigns to stay on top of every lead without making it seem like a robot wrote their emails.

3. Present

After the sales rep has made first contact and earned the prospect's attention, it's time to present their product or service.

Sales reps may demonstrate the product in action and offer the option of live demos to the prospect, but the main focus should be communicating the product's or service's benefits to the prospect.

The prospects are often more interested in why they should buy than what they are buying.

Will it improve their bottom line? Increase efficiency? Make it easier to scale their business?

The sales reps have to find the benefit the prospect will respond to and highlight it repeatedly.

Then they also have to add an emotional element to the pitch. What happens if the prospect doesn't buy the product? Sales reps can easily create urgency.

They can also create a fear of missing out (FOMO) by revealing that the prospect's competitors are already in the process of buying the same product or service.

These tactics all come into play during presentations.

4. Overcome objections

It doesn't matter how revolutionary the product or service the sales rep is offering - every prospect will have at least some doubts and objections.

Sales reps have to prepare answers and strategies to overcome these objections if they want to close the deal.

Sometimes it's not only the content of the sales reps' answers that can help determine their success. For example, a study found that top performers, when handling objections, utter 176 words per minute. Average performers utter 188 words per minute.

That might tell us that top performers remain calm and at ease. But they also implement other tactics in their objection handling.

For one, the top performers practice active listening. They try to understand the prospect's concern and often repeat back what they heard to ensure they understood the objection correctly.

When they know the exact nature of the objection, they move to overcome it. Let's say the prospect is worried about the price of the product. This is the point where the sales rep might go into further detail to explain the ROI of the product or point out how much money the company will save in expenses if they acquire it.

Sales objections are an inevitable part of the sales process. Every sales rep should expect them and prepare.

5. Close the deal

63% of all sales interactions end without the sales reps asking for the sale.

In some cases, that's probably because the sales rep knows the deal won't happen. But sometimes, they wait too long.

So if the sales rep has presented the product or service and overcome all objections, they have to pull the trigger.

But how does that look in practice? Just ask for the sale and hope for the best?

Not exactly. There are tactics salespeople can use.

They can create a sense of urgency. Offering a one-time-only discount that expires at the end of the day is one way to convince the prospect to close the deal.

Then there's the tailor-made option. If the prospect is complaining about the cost, remove a feature and lower the price.

Then there's the closing tactic that comes in the form of a question. After you've ticked off all the boxes, addressed all the concerns, and explained all the features, you merely ask them if they need anything else before they can buy the product.

3 Personal Selling Tips

Personal Selling Tips

1. Use personal selling only when necessary

Personal selling requires time and effort from your employees. This translates into higher expenses for your company.

For this reason, every company should examine its products and services to decide if they're suited for personal selling.

Here are the scenarios in which a company should adopt personal selling:

  1. They offer highly technical products that require substantial investment and learning
  2. Their products require a live demonstration
  3. They serve a small number of high-value customers

2. Optimize your lead qualification

As we mentioned above, sales prospecting and researching potential customers is considered by many to be the hardest part of their job.

That's why companies must invest in practices that make it easier.

Creating Ideal Customer Profiles is a good starting point. They can help sales reps in their search for companies and decision-makers that fit their products or services.

3. Tell stories

Here's a statistic worth remembering - after a presentation, 63% of people remember a story, but only 5% remember a statistic.

Stories are a great way to take your product or service and place it in a broader context.

That's why sales reps should tell stories about their products or services that reveal the benefits they offer to companies and show what they look like in action.

Personal Selling Example

Personal Selling Example

B2B outreach

Personal selling is common in B2B sales cycles.

Businesses rarely make a purchase that has the potential to seriously affect their business without having some sort of face-to-face meeting with the seller.

There are often a lot of factors to consider - it's unlikely that a business will decide without personally questioning a salesperson.

But in B2B outreach, personal selling doesn't necessarily have to take place in person.

With CRM software, companies can personalize their email outreach. They automate their text messages, keep track of their communications, and use their CRM to qualify their leads.

Companies are trapped under an avalanche of sales pitches most of the time. A company that can stand apart from the competition with a personalized approach that doesn't sacrifice efficiency will inevitably prosper.

Retail stores

Whether it's high-end fashion stores, jewelry stores, or car showrooms - personal selling plays an important role in every one of these sales processes.

One reason is that most of the time, customers make sizable purchases at these establishments.

Since the number of customers is smaller and the size of the purchases so much greater, companies can afford to assign individual sales assistants to buyers to help guide them to a decision.

Personal Selling FAQs

Personal Selling FAQ

"Why is personal selling so important?"

Personal selling is important because it represents a point of direct contact between the company and the consumer. Most of the time, companies communicate with customers through marketing materials. Personal selling allows companies to address the customer's issues directly. They can adjust their pitches to individual prospects and help build the customer's trust in the company.

"What are the advantages and disadvantages of personal selling? "

Here are the advantages of personal selling:

  1. Personalized sales experience
  2. Two-way communication
  3. Detailed presentation
  4. Direct feedback

And here are the disadvantages:

  1. Sales rep training can be expensive
  2. Labor-intensive method
  3. Harder to scale

"What is the AIDA model in personal selling?"

AIDA stands for Attention-Interest-Desire-Action.

This model, when it comes to personal selling, represents a sales process sales reps should follow to close the deal.

The first two steps are all about gaining the prospect's interest. They have to occur during the sales rep's first contact with the prospect. When the sales rep then makes the presentation, that's when Interest should turn into Desire.

But since there are often objections, sales reps must overcome them before turning Desire into Action.

Final Thoughts on Personal Selling

Personal selling has gone through a bit of a transformation. Salespeople don't knock on people's doors as much as they used to, but that doesn't mean that the principles traditional salespeople established can't be adjusted to the modern era.

With CRM software like Ringy, you can ensure that your sales reps stay on top of every customer communication and deliver a tailored buying experience to all your customers.

So contact Ringy today to request a demo or visit our website to learn more about our CRM!

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