What is Personal Selling? Ways to Humanize Sales Conversations

personal selling

85% of B2B buyers make purchase decisions based on relationships

Personal selling is all about building trust and relationships

Today, it’s just one of the many options available to sales professionals, but you would be surprised to learn that even when we are so obsessed with AI and Siri and Alexa

In this blog, I shall explain personal selling in detail, cover the types of personal selling, and touch base on the various strategies out there. 

I shall also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of personal selling and provide some personal selling examples for your understanding.

What is Personal Selling?

So, let’s first get the personal selling definition right.

As per Wikipedia, personal selling is a face-to-face interaction between a salesperson and a prospective client, where the salesperson understands the client’s needs and aims to fulfill them by presenting a solution in the form of a product or service.

Personal selling is more about having an honest, friendly conversation with your customer, with the sole purpose of helping him out and, in the process, making a sale.

It’s like when you go to a store, and the salesperson helps you find the perfect pair of shoes, considering your style, size, and preferences. They are there to answer your questions, address your concerns, and guide you through the buying process.

Importance of Personal Selling

Personal selling is crucial in various aspects of business and customer relationships. Some key points highlighting the importance of personal selling are:

Building relationships.

As a salesperson, scoring the opportunity to engage in an open and honest conversation with a customer is like hitting the jackpot. In these moments, you can dig deep and truly understand their needs and wants, which is key to establishing trust and loyalty – the deal maker in your line of business.

Effective Communication. 

Imagine encountering a friendly, knowledgeable salesperson – it’s like finding a guiding light in a maze. They are your go-to source, ready to tackle your questions, soothe your concerns, and guide you toward the perfect choice tailored to your individual needs.

Personalization. 

Sometimes, finding products or services tailored precisely to your needs becomes crucial. A skilled salesperson not only explains the complexities of customization but also navigates you through the process, ensuring your unique requirements are met.

Objection handling. 

Engaging in personal selling offers the unique advantage of addressing objections immediately. When you encounter doubts or concerns, a proficient salesperson is equipped to guide you through them, offering detailed information and eliminating any worries you may have.

Feedback. 

Personal selling is a two-way street. Salespeople get immediate customer feedback, which is like gold for a business. 

It helps you understand what your customers want and what’s happening in the market. That info can help you shape your strategies and offerings.

Personal selling isn’t just about selling stuff; it’s about creating awesome customer experiences, understanding their unique needs, and ensuring they’re happy. 

Types of Personal Selling

It’s time to break down the different flavors of personal selling! Trust me, it’s more like picking your favorite playlist from Spotify than decoding complex strategies. Each has its distinct features and objectives. I’ve tried to keep it light and easy.

In-Store Sales: When you walk into a store and there’s someone to help you find what you need, That’s in-store sales. The salesperson is available to converse with you, respond to inquiries, and persuade you that those shoes are essential.

Outside Sales: These sales reps hit the road, meeting clients face-to-face. It’s like taking the store experience wherever the customer is. Perfect for B2B deals and building those personal connections.

Telemarketing: It is like chatting with potential customers over the phone. The sales rep’s job is to be super convincing and handle any concerns the customer throws their way. It’s all about turning a chat into a win-win deal!

Door-to-Door Sales: This one’s old-school, but it still happens. A sales guy is knocking on your door with a product to sell. It’s like a mobile store that comes to you. It’s less common nowadays, but it used to be a thing.

Trade Shows and Exhibitions: It is a sales party for professionals. Salespeople set up shop at events, like trade shows. They get to show off their products, conduct demonstrations, and try to build relationships with prospects. 

Online Personal Selling: personal selling has gone online. Sales reps use video calls, live chat, and all that good stuff to guide you through buying something without ever leaving your couch.

Consultative Selling: This is where the sales guy understands your requirements. They’re not just pushing a product; they are more like consultants. They want to know your needs and offer a solution for you. 

Types of Online Personal Selling

Personal selling isn’t just about handshakes and boardrooms any more. It’s about combining the personal touch with the efficiency of online platforms.

Digital Consultative Selling

It’s like traditional consultative selling, but now you’re doing it through video calls, emails, or even chat. Dive into clients’ needs, understand them deeply, and offer solutions, all from the comfort of your digital space.

Virtual Product Demonstrations

Instead of a physical demo, think virtual. Utilize webinars, live videos, or interactive presentations to showcase your products or services. It’s like bringing the showroom experience right to the client’s screen.

Online Proposal-Based Selling

Crafting proposals doesn’t have to involve a printer anymore. Use online tools to create compelling proposals that can be easily shared and discussed in virtual meetings. It’s your pitch, just in a digital format.

Upselling and Cross-Selling

Your online platforms provide the perfect space for upselling and cross-selling. Recommend additional products or upgrades during the online purchasing process, just like that friendly suggestion at the checkout counter.

Social Media Relationship Building

Social media is your new networking event. Engage with potential clients on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or even industry-specific forums. It’s about building relationships, just with a digital twist.

Live Chat for Immediate Engagement & Sales

No more waiting on hold. Use live chat on your website to engage with potential clients in real-time. It’s about being there when they need us instantly.

Online Networking Events

Trade shows and conferences have gone virtual. Attend online events, network with potential clients through digital platforms, and explore business opportunities without leaving your desk.

Email-Based Relationship Building

Email is still a powerhouse. Craft personalized emails to nurture relationships, provide valuable content, and keep clients in the loop. 

Personal Selling Process

Selling isn’t just about luck—it’s a process with different steps. Each step brings them closer to hitting that ‘buy’ button or saying ‘yes.’ Following each step would lead to a higher close rate and ultimate customer satisfaction.

Step 1: Prospecting

The first step of personal selling is looking out for potential customers. You can do prospecting through various methods like cold calling, networking, social media channels like Linkedin, inbound marketing, etc. 

Lead qualification is one of the crucial parts of prospecting. It is a step to determine whether you and your potential customer are a match. Before you dial those digits, do your homework. 

Nearly 67% of missed sales opportunities happen when sales reps skip the lead qualification process before completing the sales process.

Step 2: Pre-approach

Pre-approach is the backstage hustle before the main show. Here, you have to dig deep into your prospect’s world. 

You are talking about needs, preferences, business, buying habits, and those pesky pain points. 

Then comes customizing the sales pitch. You need to customize your words to fit exactly what your prospect wants and needs. 

Step 3: Approach

This is where your sales team steps into the spotlight. Whether it’s a friendly phone call, a virtual face-to-face, a chill email, or an old-school in-person meet-up, you are making that first move. 

The vibe here is all about creating a positive first impression. You are not just saying ‘hi’ but building a connection. The goal is to know your prospects inside out.

This is where your sales guys should start asking questions to determine if your product is the perfect fit for the prospect’s pain. It’s all about asking the right questions and cracking the code to make their lives easier.

Step 4: Presentation

Time for the presentation, where you can show off your product or service. You can make it super interesting with demos, pictures, or good explanations. You can customize your presentation as per your prospect’s need. 

Throughout this show-and-tell session, your sales team can focus on how your product can make your prospect’s life better. 

Remember all that info you had gathered before? During the pre-approach & approach step. 

You should ensure your presentation hits the bullseye and makes sense for your prospect. And that’s what they are looking for.

Step 5: Objection handling

In this step, you should hear out what’s on their mind, any worries or doubts. Your sales team should be well prepared with the responses. They should have ready-to-go answers. 

Here, the purpose is not to force the prospect into buying but to understand your prospect better, figuring out how you can make their day.

Even if you don’t get answers, that’s fine. Take the initiative; give them a nudge. “Hey, anything you want to chat about? We are here to help.” It’s all about making it a smooth ride to the solution.

Step 6: Closing the sale

Next, it’s time to seal the deal! You can gently steer your prospect toward a decision – it could be as simple as asking them directly or helping them navigate the purchase process. 

If there are any last-minute hesitations, you can tackle them head-on. 

The deal-closing stage includes all the stuff like negotiations, payments, invoices, paperwork, etc. It is the part where you make things official.  

Step 7: Follow up

After the sale, it’s like giving a little shout-out to your new customer. You want to say thanks and ensure everything’s smooth and fine on their end. 

This is also the perfect time to chat more. You are not just saying thanks but asking, “How was your experience?” It’s like getting the inside scoop on how you did and if there’s anything else on their mind.  

You are not just about the one-time thing; you are laying the groundwork for a lasting relationship. 

Personal Selling Strategies & Techniques

Succeeding in personal selling can be challenging. To enhance your team’s sales approach, consider incorporating these personal selling strategies & techniques.

Just be yourself and friendly.

Start by finding something you both like or can talk about. Trust comes when you’re real. Listen carefully to what your customer says and show that you’re genuinely interested. 

Respond with genuine thoughts and ask your team to do the same. 

It’s all about creating a two-way street in your relationships. When you connect personally, sharing success stories and building that trust is easier. Keep it natural, and just have a good chat!

Know your customers

Get to know your buyers personally – what makes them tick, what they’re into. Customize your talks to fit their vibe. If your company usually goes after folks with a specific budget or team size, stick to that groove. 

It’s tempting to try and sell to everyone but trust me, it’s way cooler to focus on the ones who get you. 

When you connect with suitable leads, you’re not just boosting your chances of making the sale by 50% but also saving 33% on costs. 

PBR Approach 

The PBR (Personalization – Benefit – Request) approach in personal selling is about connecting with your customers in a way that feels personal and tailored just for them. 

Personalization: First, you get to know your customers. It’s like you are adjusting your dance moves to match your partner’s style. You learn about their needs, preferences, and what makes them tick.

Benefit: Then it’s your chance to shine on the dance floor! Instead of just listing your features like rehearsed steps, you highlight how your product or service specifically meets their needs. Showcasing your benefits.

Request: Then it’s time to finish. After demonstrating how your offer can solve their problems or meet their needs, you make a clear and engaging ask—whether it’s for the sale, a demo, or the next step in the process.

Get them talking with lots of questions.

Ask questions that need more than just a nod or a head shake. Go for those open-ended ones that really get the conversation flowing. 

The biggest mistake that sales reps make is to have a list of questions and start shooting them as if it were a murder investigation. Don’t do that. So, with the flow. If you pose good open-ended questions, most of the time, you will get answers, even without asking the question.

That’s the key to determining what the customer needs and wants. 

Now it’s time to put your listening hats on—sometimes, you must zip it to get the lowdown on what the customer is after. They won’t be able to help or sell anything if they don’t know what’s on the customer’s mind. 

Show the product’s benefit – what your product can do.

Break it down for your customers. Let them know how your product or service can fix their problems. 

Add in some real-life stories to make it all relatable. Once your team learns the customer’s needs, have them understand how your thing can improve their lives. 

Try listing out all the benefits your product brings to the table. That way, your reps can chat with customers instead of doing the old talk-at-them routine. Preparation is key to keeping it real with your customers.

Deal with customer concerns and build trust.

Be there for your customers by really getting what’s on their minds. If they have concerns, let them know you hear them and tackle them.  

You can add some industry insights, case studies, or useful resources. When your team is in action with potential customers, think of them as the personal advocates of the group. 

If there are any bumps in the road or burning questions from prospects, your reps should jump in and deal with each one like a personal mission.

This trust-building move puts your team in the customer’s good books and nudges them closer to hitting that ‘purchase’ button. In periods of change, 88% of customers feel that trust becomes increasingly crucial.

Pop the question and seal the deal.

Surprisingly, 48% of sales calls wrap up without even giving it a shot, and that’s a buzzkill for success.

Once you’ve tackled their concerns or objections, it’s game time. Lead the customer down the decision path by acting like you are both on the same page, ready to seal the deal. 

Get your team comfortable tossing out different closing lines – see what clicks and feels right for them now. Try throwing in a line like, “So, when are you thinking of jumping on board with our service?”

Keep the connection alive after they buy.

Send a big thanks their way for picking your product or service—let them know you appreciate it. Ask how their experience has been and remind them you have their support for ongoing support. 

Don’t be shy about checking in on your customers, whether it’s a quick call, a friendly email, or a face-to-face catch-up. 

Just because they’ve made a purchase doesn’t mean the friendship is over. Believe it or not, nearly half of sales guys skip the follow-up. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Personal Selling

Like any sales approach, personal selling comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s break them down:

What are the advantages of Personal Selling?

Customization

You know that one size doesn’t fit all. You can tweak your words and presentation to match exactly what your customers need and like.

Relationship Building

It’s like making friends but with a purpose. Going one-on-one lets you build those strong & personal connections. Trust and rapport with your prospects become way easier to work up in a face-to-face chat.

Instant Feedback

You can get the lowdown from customers on the spot. Real-time info is very important for tweaking the sales game, tackling concerns, and perfecting that pitch.

Complex Product Demonstration

Personal selling allows you to show off your product or service. You can give live demos, break down features, and lay out the benefits in a hands-on way.

Flexibility

As a salesperson you can switch things up based on how your customers react, what objections pop up, and the feedback they get during the sales chat.

Negotiation

Personal selling sets the stage for some real-deal negotiation. Sales wizards can hash out terms, conditions, and prices on the spot, making the whole dance more dynamic and flexible.

What are the disadvantages of Personal Selling?

Cost

Personal selling can hit your wallet. Travel, training, and the time it takes for your sales squad—all of that adds up. 

For businesses juggling limited resources, it might not be the most wallet-friendly move.

Limited Reach

Personal selling is not the best way to reach the masses. It takes time and trying to connect with a big crowd at once.

Dependency on the Salesperson

The success of personal selling depends pretty heavily on your sales team’s skills. If turnover is high or training is lacking, it’s like taking a hit in sales.

Time-Consuming

Personal selling can take up time. Building those relationships and guiding customers through the sales maze. 

Takes a lot of hours. It’s great for quality but not so great if you aim for high-volume sales.

Personal Selling Examples

For your better understanding, let’s check out some examples of personal selling.

Real Estate

Imagine a real estate agent with a young couple who dream of their first home. This agent isn’t just about houses; they are all ears about the couple’s lifestyle, wishes, and plans. 

Personalized property tours where every nook and corner aligns with the couple’s wishlist. And when it’s time to talk money, negotiations revolve around their budget and long-term dreams.

B2B Software

A software sales guy lines up a hands-on demo for a corporate client. They are not just talking features; this sales ninja is getting into the client’s project pain points. 

The demo is like a tech playground, showing how the software fits seamlessly into the client’s workflow. Post-demo, it’s a proposal customized to the client’s budget and growth plans.

Luxury Fashion

Heading to a high-end fashion boutique, where a salesperson spots a regular customer gearing up for a special event. 

The associate isn’t just pulling clothes off the rack but curating exclusive, limited-edition pieces that scream the customer’s style. A private fitting session turns into a style workshop, with tips and suggestions flowing. 

It’s all about creating an exclusive and unforgettable shopping vibe, complete with personalized attention to every detail.

Financial Services

Financial advisor getting deep into a financial planning session with a client targeting retirement. The advisor starts unpacking the client’s investment world, retirement dreams, and risk appetite. 

The strategy is customized to the client’s vision of a balanced and secure retirement. The talk isn’t generic; it’s a personalized discussion about financial products, with recommendations that match the client’s financial story. 

Medical Equipment

A salesperson for medical gear setting up a special time for a hospital that wants to upgrade its diagnostic tools. It’s not just a demo; it’s like getting into what the hospital needs for better imaging. 

They even do a live test with pretend patients, showing how the equipment can meet their expectations. 

When it’s time to talk business, the salesperson doesn’t just push a one-size-fits-all deal; it’s like a special package with training and help made just for that hospital.

Automotive

Think about going to a car shop where a sales expert greets a family looking for a big, safe car. 

They don’t just talk about the car’s power they chat about the family’s daily life and plans for the future. 

The test drive isn’t just about going fast it’s about pointing out safety, comfort, and all the family-friendly features. 

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR)

Did you miss out on reading in between?

We have got you covered. Here is a summary of personal selling.

Personal selling is more about having an honest, friendly conversation with your customer, with the sole purpose of helping him out and, in the process, making a sale. Like when a salesperson helps you find the perfect shoes in a store.

Why does it matter? 

Personal selling is about relationships and customized communication. It involves understanding your customers’ needs and desires to create a great experience. There are various types, from in-store to online selling, meeting customers wherever they are.

The process starts with finding potential customers and ends with follow-ups. Success lies in being genuine, understanding customers, showcasing product benefits, and addressing concerns. Maintaining the connection post-purchase is key.

Its advantages include customization, relationship-building, feedback, demos, flexibility, and negotiation. However, it can be costly, has limited reach, relies on the sales team, is time-consuming, and can be inconsistent.

Think of it as the engaging, customer-focused side of sales, aiming to make the buying journey seamless and friendly.

Give your sales process a human touch with personal selling. 

Adding personal selling to your marketing strategy can make your customers feel more connected. It’s like giving a personal touch to how you sell things! But to do it right, you’ll need the tools and resources that SmartReach.io offers. 

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