The selling profession has a long history, going back to antiquity. Individuals who work in selling job got different names such as sales people, sales representatives, account executives, sales consultants, sales engineers, agents, district managers, and marketing representatives (Hammann, 1993). Nowadays, most sales agents are highly educated, well-trained professionals working on the creation and strengthening of long-term relationships with customers. These relationships are based on the fact that they listen carefully to the opinions of consumers with respect for their needs; direct the efforts of their companies on resolving the problems of consumers and maximum satisfaction of their needs (Jaramillo, 2004).
Personal selling is a verbal communication with one or more potential buyers to entice them to buy. The extent to which the retailer uses personal sales depends on the image he wants to have, the type of goods he sells, the degree of self-service and commitment to long-term relationships with customers as well as the expectations of buyers (Plank, 1996).
In essence, the personal selling includes any personal contact of commercial company representatives, which contributes an increase in sales of goods. The representatives of companies can be: sales agents, salespeople, brokers, insurance agents. Sales agent is a person acting on behalf of the company and performing one (or more) of these functions: identification of potential clients, establishing communications, the implementation of sales, service organization, information gathering and distribution of resources (McClaren, 2000).
At certain stages of the buying process, especially on the stages of preference and conviction, personal selling is the most effective form of selling. Personal selling technique has several unique features compared with advertising:
- It involves personal contact between two or more people, during which participants adapt to the needs and nature of each other.
- Personal selling also contributes to the emergence of different relationships: from the formal – the seller – the buyer – to friendship. For the professional seller, the interests of the buyer are the subject of personal involvement, from which grows a long professional contacts.
- Personal selling makes the buyer at least in some way to respond to treatment, at least with polite refusal (S O’Hara, 1993).
Personal selling is the most expensive means of promotion. Therefore, there is a need to carefully determine in what areas this type of promotion will give the greatest commercial impact. It is especially true when it goes with expensive and complex products requiring more detailed consumer information on the technical parameters of the functioning and maintenance. Representatives of personal selling often use marketing communication, sales presentations, fairs and exhibitions sales, special incentives arrangements. Sales promotion of products includes advertising in local trade places, premiums, discounts, coupons, special promotion and demonstration (Marks, 2005).
The Role of the Sales Force
Personal selling is the interindividual mean of promotional unit. On contrary to advertising it presupposes personal contact of salesperson and customers face-to-face or through different communicating means like conference or video chat (Lystig, 2003). Personal selling is very useful because they seem to be more trustful in some situations. It might be really useful to apply salesperson to investigate customers’ needs and to create the offer which will better meet requirements of a customer.
Sales force has different role in different companies. Some of them don’t have salespeople at all. This is such companies that sell their products via agents or with the help of catalogues ordered by mail. But if the company deals with business products then it pays proper attention to sales force because it co-operates with customers personally and it represents a company itself. Salespeople who work at such company don’t get in contact with customers personally but they deal with wholesale and retail trade and their main role is to make selling of the goods more efficient (Mondy, 1999).
It happens rather often that sales force define and work with new customers, spreading on the information on company, what it produces or which services presents working for sellers and customers in this way at the same time. In such way they find the possibility to contact customers and to present their products, disperse doubts, discuss details on costs and terms, and perform sales in general (Ulaga, 2001). Moreover, sales force satisfies customer’s needs in some services, learns the target market and gathers all the information needed. It also helps a company to know its clients because sales force deal directly with the executives of the company informing them on customers’ needs and comments concerning goods. It’s obvious that salespeople are “the connecting link” between sellers and customers (Herche, 1996).
Current situation in management requires from sales force not only performing sales but to be informed on a question how to satisfy customers’ needs and to make company profitable. Salespeople should understand and be able to do personally the estimation of sales data, to investigate the target market possibilities, learn on all the information on this question and to work out marketing strategies and ways to act.
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Lystig, F.L., Johnson, K.K.P. (2003). Personal selling approaches used in television shopping. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 7(3), 249-258.
Jaramillo, F., W Marshall, G. (2004). Critical success factors in the personal selling process: An empirical investigation of Ecuadorian salespeople in the banking industry. The International Journal of Bank Marketing, 22(1), 9-25.
Marks, R. (2005). Personal Selling: A Relationship Approach. p. 485.
McClaren, N. (2000). Ethics in Personal Selling and Sales Management: A Review of the Literature Focusing on Empirical Findings and Conceptual Foundations. Journal of Business Ethics, 27(3), 285-303.
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