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What Is Face-To-Face Selling?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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Face-to-face selling is a process by which a salesperson engages in communication and interaction directly with a person in order to make a sale. This is often done during a sales meeting or similar engagement, though social functions and interactions can also include elements of sales in them. A number of different strategies and methods can be used during this type of sale, which can include presentations made in person or simply a persuasive pitch and engagement. Face-to-face selling is often considered the cornerstone of sales, as many people prefer to meet someone in person to discuss a major sale, rather than doing so online or over a telephone.

There are a number of ways in which face-to-face selling can occur, though it typically involves some type of meeting between a salesperson and a potential client. This can take place during a meeting that is set up specifically for this purpose, such as when someone in sales makes an appointment to meet with a client. Face-to-face selling can also occur in a number of retail environments. If someone enters a store that sells products, which can range from office supplies to motor vehicles, then salespeople often approach him or her to provide information and attempt to make a sale.

One of the major strengths of face-to-face selling is that it provides a personal connection between a salesperson and a customer. Many people feel that they can receive more fair and honest treatment from a person who they are meeting with directly, rather than someone communicating via telephone or email. A salesperson engaged in face-to-face selling can also better gauge reactions and interest from a client when meeting him or her in person. This allows someone to adapt a sales pitch or message to meet the specific interests and needs of a person, rather than relying on a set script or approach that is used for everyone.

There are some potential downsides to using face-to-face selling, however, especially considering the amount of resources it calls for. Individual salespeople are often required to attend each sales meeting, which means that they are typically paid for their time regardless of whether the sale is successful or not. Some clients may also be quite difficult to reach for face-to-face selling, which means that a great deal of time and money may go into simply trying to set up a meeting. Sales made through a telephone system or Internet campaign can often be far less expensive to produce, but many people are unwilling to commit to a major sale without a face-to-face meeting.

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Discussion Comments

By clintflint — On Oct 31, 2014

@irontoenail - I think part of the problem is that some people have trouble saying no, so they don't want to be put into the position where they have to deal with face-to-face selling at all. I know I will go out of my way to avoid people trying to solicit in malls or on the street, because it makes me feel bad to say no, even if there was never a chance I was going to say yes.

By irontoenail — On Oct 30, 2014

@bythewell - I worked in retail for a while and even if they don't get commission retail workers are usually trained to approach customers for several reasons. We had a 30 second rule that we had to make eye contact within that time and a two minute rule that we had to ask if they needed help by then.

It wasn't just in order to get them to buy things. Making contact meant that they would be less likely to steal anything, because they knew they had been acknowledged, which can be important in a small store. It's also important to let a person know that you see them as a person and aren't ignoring them. For every customer that would prefer no interaction, there's another one that would be offended without a friendly "hello".

And it does help sales if you are nice to people, because they will start feeling loyalty towards the store. That only works if the workers are genuinely nice though, which is a difficult thing to train into them.

By bythewell — On Oct 30, 2014

I absolutely hate it when people approach me in a store without my asking for their help. I have a touch of social anxiety in the first place and having a salesperson hovering over me and making suggestions just makes me want to get away from them as fast as possible. It most definitely does not make me want to buy anything. If I need help, I'll ask for it.

I guess there must be people who like it though, or they wouldn't keep on doing it. And I know those people are trained to do it and work on commission so I don't blame them and I'm not rude to them or anything. But I would vastly prefer it, and would spend more money, if I was left alone to make my decisions.

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