Salespeople have a somewhat bad rap, and that’s why we should do something to step away from that overly-eager-salesperson-that-tries-to-push-their-agenda-persistently stereotype.
Our customers have changed and they don’t want to be disturbed by an unsolicited sales pitch.
Even when they need our products or services, they will be too annoyed by a perceived lack of genuine interest in their problems and pain points that many salespeople tend to give off while desperately trying to sell.
Personal selling is a modern approach that should be a part of every salesperson’s arsenal together with email outreach, telesales, different promotions, ads, and PR.
- So, What Is Personal Selling?
- What Are the Benefits of Personal Selling?
- What Are the Challenges of Personal Selling?
- Personal Selling Strategy
- 7 Stages of the Personal Selling Process
- Closing Words
So, What Is Personal Selling?
The most accurate personal selling definition is that it’s a tactic leveraging a face-to-face or one-to-one contact between a salesperson and a potential client.
It can be in the form of a meeting, email, phone call, or video chat, but this direct communication isn’t the only factor that makes this sales approach personal.
Instead of trying to make a sale at all costs, companies engaging in personal selling shift to a problem-solving attitude and aim to help their prospects to find solutions for their pain points.
Naturally, their products and services play a central part in the equation, but it’s a tailored effort to explain to the prospects how they can benefit from using these products and services.
So, we can say that personal selling in a way humanizes sales by eliminating the one-size-fits-all approach.
In other words, a salesperson knows exactly what challenges and issues every particular prospect tries to overcome and builds the entire narrative and offer around solving them.
What Are the Benefits of Personal Selling?
It’s obvious why approaching your potential customers in such a way and understanding their needs is a scenario that works, but let’s elaborate more on the advantages of this strategy.
- It allows you to get in touch with your prospects on a personal level and uncover different important details about their business that will help you connect the dots and create an unmatched offer.
- With personal selling, you’ll build a more profound relationship and loyalty with your prospects and pave the way towards becoming a vendor of their choice.
- Your team will be able to address any potential objections, concerns, or dilemmas your prospects might have and eliminate them.
Generally speaking, personal selling significantly increases the probability of closing a deal.
However, a personal selling process is very complex and requires a great deal of planning and evaluating your prospects.
What Are the Challenges of Personal Selling?
I’m not going to lie – personal selling is no picnic!
First of all, you should know that not all your prospects will be willing to say yes to a meeting. As a matter of fact, almost 60% of them believe that meetings don’t bring much value.
However, even those that are ready to jump on a call or meeting with you shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s true that they’re very interested in what you have to offer them, but in order to win them over, you need to prepare well and deliver a superb sales presentation.
Let’s not forget that personal meetings incur additional costs, such as travel expenses. But what’s even more expensive is all the time that you and your team will invest in preparations for the meeting.
That’s why it’s essential to identify the prospects that are the right fit for your business and figure out how high the likelihood of closing the deal is. Otherwise, you’ll just waste your time and money.
Personal Selling Strategy
Now that we’ve defined what personal selling is as well as what its benefits and challenges are, let’s discuss some actionable tips and tricks that you can employ and make your efforts worthwhile.
Qualify Your Leads
Before you decide to catch a plane to meet a prospect who agreed to a meeting and spend a couple of days working on the deal, make sure to focus on the prospects that are most likely to convert into paying customers as well as those that have the potential to spend more money on your solution.
And while not every meeting will result in a sale, what you can do is answer a couple of lead-qualification questions and assess how each prospect stacks up:
- What’s the value of the deal?
- How big is the business you want to sell to?
- Does your product or service fit the target company’s needs, and will it genuinely benefit from using it?
- Is there a possibility to secure more business opportunities through building a strong relationship with the decision-maker?
- What kind of direct contact is the most suitable for a particular DM? If your prospect is an extremely busy professional, maybe a phone call will be a better option.
- Will you be able to add some value to your relationship with the prospect by having a meeting? In other words, don’t do it just for the sake of it.
This is a crucial step of this strategy because if you expect to show up in a meeting without having a very detailed plan and without knowing your prospect and their business, you’ll simply waste both their and your own time.
Needless to say, this will annoy them and prevent you from potentially having another opportunity with that prospect.
Find out everything you can about your prospect, take notes while talking to them on the phone, and analyze their emails as that will help you unearth different valuable information about them with which you’ll be able to create a tailored offer.
Active listening is one of the most important skills of every great salesperson. Instead of doing all the talking and convincing your prospect why your product is awesome, ask questions and let the prospect share their thoughts and ideas.
With such a constructive and friendly approach, you’ll show that your ultimate goal is to help them succeed, and that’s the best way to earn their loyalty.
So, ask a lot of questions and pay attention to what your prospect is saying.
Focus on the Benefits of Your Solution
We’ve talked about this a number of times – don’t talk about your product or service’s technical specs and features because your prospects aren’t interested in that.
What they need to know is how exactly that product or service will help them overcome their issues and improve their business.
This tactic requires you to understand all the challenges of your prospect’s business and align your product or service with them through benefits.
7 Stages of the Personal Selling Process
Understanding how the personal selling process functions and what stages are is crucial for getting it right and streamlining it.
The previous section already discusses some of the 7 stages of the personal selling process, and we’ll now list them chronologically.
Prospecting is the initial stage of the process, in which it’s essential to identify who your potential customers are and do your research to find as much as possible about them.
Use all the available sources such as their LinkedIn, other social media platforms, and a company website to locate them and find valuable information that will allow you to personalize your outreach.
The pre-approach step is actually the preparation for reaching out to your prospects and putting together your sales presentation.
Use the information from the previous step to come up with the right pitch – establish what your prospective customer needs are, who decision-makers are, and whether the prospect already has a contract with another company.
After analyzing all the available information, you should decide on what the best way to get in touch with your prospect is – a personal visit, online meeting, email, or a call.
It’s also a good idea to practice your sales presentation and make sure that it highlights your unique selling proposition as well as the benefits of your solution.
The approach is the next step of the process, and it’s when the initial contact with your prospect finally happens.
It’s important to come up with the right greeting and icebreaker to warm up your prospect, connect with them, as well as get them to relax and open up.
Since this is your first interaction with your prospect, put your best foot forward in order to make a great first impression, as that will determine the course of your entire relationship with them.
During this stage, it’s your job to read the room and identify your prospect’s specific pain points and needs.
This step is pretty self-explanatory – it’s time for you to take the stage, show how your product works, discuss its benefits, and generally speaking, draw your prospect further into the story.
One of the most common mistakes sales reps make is trying to impress their prospects by talking about product features. Your potential customers aren’t interested in this – they want to know how your solution will make their life easier.
So, instead of focusing on all the specs, tell your prospects why your product or service is exactly what they need.
5. Handling objections
Even if you do everything by the book and prepare well for the meeting, don’t expect that everything will go smoothly every time.
Sometimes your prospects will need more time to figure out what’s in it for them, and you have to help them.
The trick is to discuss the objections and not avoid them. Don’t be afraid to mention a particular roadblock or even ask your prospect something along the lines of:
“Do you have some concerns related to our product or service?”
“Is there anything that prevents you from buying?”
“Do you think that this product/service can contribute to your success and how?”
“I’m under the impression that something worries you, and it would be great if you’d share your thoughts with me so that we can work things out.”
6. Closing the sale
We’ve finally reached the moment when you should ask your prospect whether they’re ready and willing to make a purchase.
This is, of course, a very sensitive and challenging step of the personal selling process.
At this stage, it’s necessary to discuss pricing and payment terms, thus finalizing the sale.
If the previous steps have been successful, it will be easier for you to convince your prospect to say yes.
7. Follow Up
After the sale has been completed, make sure to get in touch with your new customer and ask them how their onboarding process is going as well as how satisfied they are with your solution.
Don’t neglect this step as it will ensure customer satisfaction and potential extension or upgrade of your contract.
Personal selling heavily relies on being genuinely interested in helping your prospects solve their problems using your product or service. A pushy approach doesn’t work here, and the whole point of personal selling is in identifying those who can actually benefit from your solution and building meaningful relationships with them. Selling for the sake of hitting your quota or improving your bottom line isn’t what you should be doing.