Well, being a salesperson is hard. Many KPIs to chase, needs exceptional communications skills, and much patience. Having said that, you can imagine that personal selling isn’t a walk in the park.
But this approach can bring better results to your business, like increased revenue and a better reputation.
It adds a human face to your company and shows your prospects that you care about their problems and their needs. You’re not there just to sell and vanish, you’re there to really help.
Below, we’ll explore together every aspect of personal selling and set you ready to become an expert in it.
Table of Contents
What is Personal Selling?
Personal selling is a method that individualizes a company’s sales process when the sales rep actively listens and understands a prospect’s challenge and helps them deal with it with the use of the company’s product or service.
It’s not just about making the sale, instead, it’s about establishing a human connection with your potential customer.
That’s why personal selling requires face-to-face communication, either in-person or via online video calls.
The direct interaction that face-to-face communication offers is invaluable to such sales methods since you seem more approachable. And you can understand your customer better by their facial expressions and body language.
Business-to-business (B2B) companies follow mostly the personal selling strategy. However, it’s also quite common for business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, like in the automotive industry.
We dive deeper into personal selling and its pros and cons for a business below.
Personal Selling Advantages and Disadvantages
As with any other business process, personal selling has its strengths and weaknesses. Here we analyze 5 pros and 5 cons to help you decide if you should include personal selling in your promotion mix.
+ Personalization of The Offer
First, a personal selling process can address your client’s needs better.
After in-depth conversations with a client, you, as a sales representative, can comprehend what your client is looking for and why exactly they want to buy a product or service.
So, you can skip the irrelevant features of a product and show directly what’s important to your customer, avoid becoming tedious, and go straight to the point.
The offer and the deal you propose will also be personalized, affordable, and most importantly, tailored to your client’s needs.
+ Building Relationships
Personal selling doesn’t stop when you close the sale.
On the contrary, a good sales team keeps in touch with their customers long after the purchase, to ensure they’re satisfied with the product or service and explore new ways to help them even more.
So, the customer success manager should regularly reach out to existing clients to build personal relationships. That human connection helps clients feel appreciated and fosters loyalty to your business.
And when the time comes, these satisfied customers will reward you with referrals or upsells!
+ Direct Feedback
In personal sales, a prospective buyer is more likely to give direct feedback to you throughout the sales process. This feedback can be anything from objections, preferences, insights, or anything.
All this critical information is very important for improving your products, processes, and even your online reputation.
Also, customer feedback during calls can help you handle objections quickly and unlock new sales opportunities.
+ Faster Results
Oftentimes, personal selling techniques can lead to increased sales, faster than other sales methods.
That happens mostly in B2C industries when the sales representative talks directly to the customer, who is also the decision maker. The retail industry is a good example of that.
+ Control over Presenting Products or Services
Personal selling can be the superpower of a sales team. It gives you the ability to lead the conversation with your prospects and have complete control over your product’s image.
All products have flaws. But personal selling offers you the chance to move the lights away from them, focus on the benefits it gives, and mention the weaknesses in a controlled manner.
One of the biggest cons of the personal selling process is that it takes much time. You should invest hours and much effort to find new leads. Then, you have to research them to identify if they’re qualified or not.
It goes without saying that qualifying your leads is a basic step so that you don’t waste your time with clients that don’t fit your buyer persona.
Then, you should carefully craft your initial messages, and your sales pitch and dedicate time to conversations with your potential customer to build trust and understand their pain points.
– Might be Expensive
We shall admit it: personal sales can be costly.
Firstly, as a sales rep, you should be well-educated on the product or service you promote. That translates to training costs for your company.
Secondly, there are some travel costs, if your sales staff meet in person with prospects.
– Resistance of some Customers
Personal sales is all fun and joy until you face customers that don’t want to interact with you. It’s truly difficult to establish two-way communication if the customer is unattainable.
Pro Tip: To eliminate that disadvantage you can keep your meetings short and your emails to the point.
– Seems Less Effective
In a world where companies measure success with fast-closed sales as KPI, personal selling may seem less effective than other sales techniques. That’s due to longer buyer journeys, time spent in research rather than in selling, and the trustworthiness of the client.
Imagine the following case.
You’ve done great in finding the perfect qualified lead. You’ve spent hours understanding their pain points and offered a fantastic solution that fits them best. You’ve built trust. You send the contract.
But, they don’t sign it and come back later with a lame excuse for not proceeding with their purchase.
That happens a lot in sales. In fact, “the average salesperson’s close rate is less than 20%”. Remember you’re no bad sales rep.
– Limited Reach
Doing personal sales means that you should dedicate time to each client individually, to connect on a human level.
That in turn means that you limit your reach to potential customers. And you’ll end up with a much smaller pool of prospects. However, the good news is that these prospects will be qualified and willing to buy from you.
As a method of promotion and marketing personal selling has more benefits than drawbacks, because, at the end of the day, reaching out to fewer but more eager-to-buy prospects is better than chasing after every customer that might never purchase your products.
If you’re sure personal selling will do good for your business, keep reading to learn some winning strategies.
Personal Selling Strategies for B2B Companies
If you work in B2B, you know that most products and services are really expensive. Also, a lot of people are involved in the decision-making process of buying something. That makes personal selling a difficult endeavor.
But here we’ll uncover some strategies that can help you make personal sales a bit easier.
Today, people and businesses are constantly in the social media world, creating posts or commenting about what they do, what they need, or what their challenges are. They willingly offer lots of information on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook groups that can help you target them.
That’s why social listening tools can help you find new leads to focus your sales efforts. You can use them for monitoring keywords based on your client’s needs and track every social media and web mention of them to identify businesses or business owners that have the same needs.
Also, these tools are great for hashtag tracking. So, you can monitor which companies are creating content with popular hashtags relevant to your products or services. These companies are more likely to be open for a demo or a conversation with you.
Pro Tip: Online media monitoring tools like Mentionlytics offer also news monitoring, so you can stay up-to-date regarding major events for your prospects, and use this info to start interesting discussions with them or as arguments in your conversations.
Understand Your Buyer Personas
Personal selling takes effort because it ensures that sales reps don’t waste time trying to reach out to people who don’t care. You can’t identify the right prospect for your business unless you fully comprehend your buyer personas.
That means you should be in your target customer’s shoes to understand their needs, and how your product can serve them. That will help in qualifying your leads and spark their interest in your messages.
In B2B sales, it’s important to forge relationships with the contact persons from your prospective client. Today, businesses are looking for trusted partners, not just vendors. They have to see that you’re investing in them as well as they are investing in you.
That’s why personalized emails, live demos, and quick support are necessary to maintain a real relationship with your prospects.
You can, also, be friendly and human. Share your company’s story or similar challenges it faces to become more relatable and show empathy.
Build Trust by Showcasing your Knowledge & Expertise
After forging a relationship with your prospects, you have to establish yourself as an expert in what you offer.
The ideal scenario is that you be a consultant for them.
You should showcase that you understand deeply their challenges and know exactly what they should do with your product or service to resolve them. So, you should be always well-prepared, know what you’re offering, and have creative problem-solving skills.
A good salesperson is an organized salesperson.
In personal selling, it’s very important to keep track of everything. Fortunately, there are many CRM software platforms that can help you with that.
Furthermore, LinkedIn is very important if you do personal selling. You should create a trustworthy profile there because your prospects may search for you. Also, LinkedIn is great for expanding your network and it offers special features for prospecting.
These were just a few strategies of personal selling in marketing for B2B to enhance your results.
However, in case you’re new to this, keep reading to learn some clear steps of the personal selling process.
7 Steps of Personal Selling
Getting started with personal selling isn’t a piece of cake. But there are 7 specific steps you can follow to find your perfect prospect and make the sale.
Prospecting is basically researching for and identifying potential customers who might be interested in buying your product or service.
It’s a vital process since it helps you collect information about prospects to understand if they fit your ideal buyer persona — so, they’re qualified — or not. That way you’ll be able to distinguish the prospects worth your time and effort.
You can use an online media monitoring tool, like Mentionlytics, as a social search engine to gather information from all social networks on your potential customers to help you qualify them.
Also, such tools can help you find leads by monitoring who’s talking about certain topics on the internet.
For example, if you sell medical equipment, you can monitor social media for the healthcare industry by keeping track of specific keywords which refer to medical conditions that your equipment helps in their diagnosis. That way you can target businesses that include them in their posts.
Pre-approach is the second step of personal selling when you already have identified your qualified prospects.
So, you deepen your online research about their business and their market. Then, gather all the necessary info to deliver an individualized sales experience.
When you approach a prospective buyer, make sure that your message is comprehensive, relevant, and personalized. Put yourself into their shoes and try to think objectively, if you were receiving that message, would you say “OK” or would you just ignore it?
Your prospect has to understand that your offering is worth their time. And that a call is the perfect means of communication between the two of you.
Then, during your initial call, keep in mind that the objective is to understand their needs and challenges. So, don’t be afraid to ask in-depth questions, but make sure they are relevant and not pushy.
That way you’ll show that you’ve done your research and that you’re here to listen and not to sell.
The next step of personal selling is presentation. After your initial discovery calls and relationship building, it’s time to present your product or service, the benefits, and the offer.
You should create a personalized presentation of what you sell and what are its advantages for your prospect specifically. Connect your prospect’s needs that they have shared previously and the info from your research with your product features to make a compelling offering.
Be prepared that your potential customers are going to have some questions and maybe objections to what they heard.
Handle objections with care, by showing genuine interest in what they say, without adding pressure to the conversation. Answer all questions, give them additional material to read, and show empathy.
After you have overcome all objections and your prospect is ready to become a client, you have to deal with any negotiations regarding pricing and payment. Then, you’ll prepare the contracts and seal the deal.
And ta-da! Congrats, you’ve made the sale!
Your relationship with your customers shouldn’t stop when you sign the contracts. Instead, you should stay in touch with them and maintain your relationships.
In case your company has enough human resources, you should introduce them to your customer success or account managers that will take care of them from now on.
Maintaining relationships with existing customers will help your business keep them happy, avoid any negative reviews, and secure renewals, upsells, or even referrals in the future!
That’s it! Follow these steps and you’ll never lose in the personal selling game.
Personal Selling Examples
In this final section, we analyze in a few words some examples of personal selling in key industries.
SaaS Sales Reps
SaaS stands for Software as a Service and is thriving worldwide. These companies sell web-based software, which is often expensive. That’s why personal selling is necessary.
Most SaaS companies work B2B, so the sales cycle is long and requires skills from the salesperson to persuade, for example, the director of a department in a big enterprise to invest their budget in your software and not in your competitor’s.
Banking Sales Reps
Banking sales reps are another example of personal selling techniques put into practice. They promote complex and sometimes difficult-to-understand products and services, that’s why prospecting and social media monitoring are essential for financial institutions to find qualified leads and approach them in a personalized way.
They also keep in touch with customers to consult them on how to use the products, answer any questions, and keep addressing their needs.
Medical Sales Reps
Our last key personal selling example is the medical salespeople, who promote medicines, special equipment, and other healthcare-related products to hospitals, pharmacists, etc.
They do personal sales because of their product’s complex nature and have to demonstrate its value, due to its high cost. Medical sales reps book mainly in-person appointments with their prospects and visit their premises, which is very important for building trusted relationships.
Find Your Prospects Now
Now, you know all the basics to begin experimenting with the personal selling process. Mentionlytics can help you get started with social listening to find quickly some qualified prospects for your business and get the ball rolling!