Personal selling (or salesmanship) is the most traditional method, devised by manufactures, for promotion of the sales of their products. Prior to the development of the advertising technique, personal selling used to be the only method used by manufacturers for promotion of sales. It is, in fact, the forerunner of advertising and other sales promotion devices.
Personal-selling or salesmanship are synonymous terms; with the only difference that the former term is of recent origin, while the latter term has been traditionally in usage, in the commercial world.
Since a salesman, in persuading a prospect to buy a certain product, follows a personal approach; salesmanship, in the present-day-times in often popularly called as personal selling.
Personal selling is a face-to-face contact between the salesman and the prospect; through which the salesman persuades the prospect, to appreciate the need for the product canvassed by him – with the expectation of a sales-transaction, being eventually materialized.
(1) “Salesmanship is the art of presenting an offering so that the prospect appreciates the need for it and a mutually satisfactory sale follows.”
—Philips and Duncan
(2) “It is the part of a salesman’s’ business to create demand by demonstrating that the need does exist, although before his visit there was no consciousness of that need.”
—W. Major Scott
Features of Personal Selling:
Some important features of personal selling are given below:
(i) Personal selling involves a face-to-face contact between the salesman and the prospect.
(ii) It is an art of persuading the prospect, to appreciate the need for the product canvassed by the salesman, in a democratic, cordial and social manner. This, then, requires outstanding qualities in a salesman; specially the proficiency in selling skills and techniques.
(iii) In personal selling, the emphasis is on the development of permanent and lasting relations with prospects If a prospect is won; a sales transaction might materialize with him subsequently in future. Obtaining an immediate sale may be the natural ambition of a salesman; it should never be his target.
(iv) A salesman sells product, by first selling his own idea or viewpoint to the prospect. Personal selling, therefore, is the art of convincing the prospect and influencing his mind, in a favourbale way.
(v) Personal selling requires a flexible approach; on the part of the salesman i.e. the salesman should modify his approach in persuading the prospect, in view of the psychology, needs and resources of the prospect.
(vi) The ultimate goal of personal selling is mutual satisfaction of the interests of both – the salesman and the prospect.