In today’s wired environment, it is virtually necessary to enhance personal selling using sales promotion and other messages delivered electronically.
When people have a need, many seek out advice from friends and family, or they may search out a solution online.
With so much information available, a purchase decision is often influenced by a recommendation, a deal or a unique offer.
Your website, blog, facebook page and other social media sources can begin the process before you make the first sales call.
How Personal Selling Has Evolved
Personal selling definition has always been considered to be a face-to-face meeting with a prospect.
When I began my career, I was in a sales management training program and I eventually became a trainer for the company.
Using the resources of the well respected brand, I fully utilized the presentations, lead generation processes and time management systems developed by marketing to efficiently use my time. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I ventured into a new market.
I also shared the systems developed by marketing to train the sales team. The challenge was to teach both product knowledge and selling skills.
Using the latest advances is the buying/selling process and technology developed by our marketing team, the sales process fell into place, making life easier for each sales person to be a trusted adviser.
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
If you are reinventing the sales process with every sales call, you are doomed to fail.
Yes, you may customize the sales materials for each prospect.
However, your sales message should be specific, explaining to your prospect exactly what your product is going to do for them.
The great thing about my early experience was that the brand behind the product was well known and respected. When we identified an audience that had a need for our product, the brand’s identity often got the sales person in the door and was key when closing the deal.
After I left the world of an organized sales team to venture into selling and servicing newly evolving concepts, the sales process became more challenging. I was often on the selling end of unique marketing processes or a concept that had to be explained. This brought the sales process to a higher level.
Four Types of Sales Processes
In the hierarchy of sales there are 4 categories: Transactional, Account Service, Consultant, Mutual Partner. The distinctions are that of:
- An order taker, transactional.
- Offering a suite of services, an account executive.
- Consulting on how a company’s service may best fit a prospects needs, an example is a lawyer in a specific field such as contract law.
- The top of the sales hierarchy is that of a mutual partner, working with prospects to develop new concepts that will deliver shared risks and rewards.
Sales Promotion Applied To Sales Hierarchy
Transactional sales are often related to everyday purchases or items that many have a need for. Shopping at the Supermarket, Hardware store or for Home Decorations may be considered transactional sales. Promoting the brand, Lowe’s Home Improvement vs. Home Depot for example, is a key driver for this type of sale.
Sales Promotional offers such as coupons, product samples, point-of-sale displays and sales events are big drivers in this category of sales. Personal selling may be limited to a in-store sales person or a telephone or online sales associate. The promotional offers are used to attract customers, sell more products, and close deals.
Account Team Sales offer a suite of services that solve a problem. A marketing firm may specialize in strategic planning, business analytics and online marketing execution. The sales person may sell all these services or focus on the prospects current pain point, such as the need to measure current campaigns using an analytics process.
Sales Promotions in this category may focus on a bundled product price incentive, for purchasing all their services in a stated time. A volume discount for offering more services or training more of the prospects staff.
Or, sharing success stories draws in prospects. Deliver a unique promotional product to illustrate the company’s approach to creating success for clients is often memorable and motivating.
Consultative Sales is the process of taking the sellers speciality and applying it to the prospects need. While prospects may have a similar need, their solution may have to be unique to the buyer’s situation or circumstances.
Sales Promotions for consultants can be participating in a trade show, and/or offering a limited time discount coupon to drive traffic among a select target group.
Lumpy mail featuring a promotional product that illustrates your speciality, or how a common problem is solved, gets opened and remembered.
Mutual Partner sales can be as simple as developing a marketing partnership, or as complex as a strategic alliance between two organizations.
An example of this is Dell computers and Intel processors. Each brand stands alone, together they create a better performing product.
The most successful sales people strive to achieve this level of relationship building for every interaction.
People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. When a prospect feels part of the sales process, they practically sell themselves.
Sales Promotions for seeking out a mutual partner should be bigger than life. Show off what you got to offer to attract that special partner. For example, the Unearthed contest are ‘industry sponsored challenges open to developers, engineers, innovators and problem solvers from around the world’ Cash prizes are awarded to the top entries that come up with optimal solutions and prototypes.
Focus Around The Decision Making Process
People buy to gain a benefit, avoid a loss, or to solve a problem. One of the most important messages you can communicate is how you help prospects identify and recognize their need.
Your marketing materials and online promotions should incorporate an element of the prospects decision making process to motivate them to buy, or at least be open to hear your pitch.
Some of the questions your prospects will be looking for answers to are:
- What will your product or service do for me?
- What has it done for others?
- Why should I buy it from you versus the competition?
- How does it help me satisfy my needs, and why is that important?
When you ask the question “what is personal selling today” consider that selling the brand and your unique solution begins long before your first sales meeting.
Your online presence and word-of-mouth advertising should be controlled and directed. Using sales promotion techniques captures attention, focuses on your point-of-difference, and brings the prospect’s wants and needs to the forefront.