Personal selling is an approach to selling that involves the individual efforts of a salesperson to establish and grow rapport with a specific customer. Sometimes referred to as personalized selling, the idea is to get to know the customer, assess his or her needs, then tailor the sales process so that the customer’s specific needs are addressed. The idea behind this approach is to present the sale as a means of helping the customer achieve his or her goals with the use of the products or services that the salesperson has to offer.
The process of personal selling is very different from attempting to achieve sales by other means, such as mass marketing. With this type of sales technique, contact with a prospective customer on a one-on-one basis is essential. Doing so creates a situation in which the customer has the chance to associate a face with the product. If he or she feels connected to that face, and has a sense that the salesperson genuinely wants to aid in choosing products that are needed and is not just making a sale, there is an increased possibility of the establishment of trust between the two parties. As a result, the salesperson can often gather valuable clues regarding what is important to the customer in terms of features and pricing, and focus on discussing products that provide what the customer really wants.
Often, the process of personal selling may lead to discovery on the part of both the salesperson and the consumer. While the discussion may begin with the consumer articulating what he or she thinks is needed to handle a certain task, the ongoing discussions may identify other factors that relate to the stated needs, and can also be met by product the salesperson has to offer. For example, when discussing conference call services with a prospective client, the salesperson may also discover that the customer could enhance the overall communication process by utilizing web conferencing along with the audio conferencing. Assuming the salesperson can show the customer how this can be done efficiently and at a cost that is well within the budget of the consumer, there is a good chance that the customer will try the product combination, and like it. Subsequently, the customer feels a stronger loyalty to the salesperson and the company providing those services, and is much more likely to ask more questions when and as other communication opportunities arise.
With personal selling, it is important to respect the boundaries set by each individual customer. Some are very open to a personable approach that is almost like talking with a friend. Others prefer an approach that is open and honest, but remains a little more formal. Breaching those boundaries, even in some little way such as calling a customer by a first name when he or she prefers to be addressed as Mr. or Ms., can weaken the building of a personal selling connection and thus limit the possibility of selling any good or service to that customer.