Sales professionalism

Dear our colleagues in sales & marketing career we will begin to publish these articles about personal selling to help you in career development.  You will learn all aspects of personal selling, selling skills, and communication and negotiation skills. We hope this material adds value to you.

Introduction

If the customer is king, the second most important person in the kingdom must be the person who has a direct interaction on a daily basis with the king.

The original and oldest form of direct marketing is the field sales call. Today most industrial companies rely heavily on a professional sales force to locate prospects, develop them into customers, and grow the business. In addition, many companies use a direct sales force like insurance agents, stockbrokers, and pharmaceutical companies.

Personal selling occurs where an individual salesperson sells a product, service or solution to a customer. Salespeople match the benefits of their offering to the specific needs of their customers developing long-term relationship.

Personal selling involves selling through a person-to-person communications process. The emphasis placed on personal selling varies from firm to firm depending on a variety of factors, including the nature of the product or service being marketed, size of the organization, and type of industry.

Pharmaceutical companies recruit pharmaceutical sales reps (medical reps) to promote their products to potential physicians. Medical reps are typically missionary reps, they inform physicians about new therapeutic products and educate them how to treat their patients.

Medical reps try to discover physician’ medications needs match the benefits of the company’ products with these needs. Actually their roles is not selling but help the company to apply pull strategy to sell their products.

The Nature of Personal Selling

People hold many stereotypes of salespeople; Old image of salespeople as loners traveling their territories trying to foist their wares on unsuspecting or unwilling buyers .However, modern salespeople are a far cry from these unfortunate stereotypes.

Today, most salespeople are well-educated, Well-trained professionals who work to build and maintain long-term relationships with Customers. They build relationships by listening to their customers, assessing customer needs and organizing the company’s efforts to solve customer problems.
Personal selling is a key element in promotion, one of the four Ps in the marketing mix. But not all sales representatives do exactly the same kind of selling. In business settings, there are six types of sales representatives, ranging from the least to the most creative types of selling:

  1. Deliverer: A salesperson whose major task is the delivery of a product (milk, bread, or fuel).
  2.  Order taker: A salesperson who acts predominantly as an inside order taker (the salesperson standing behind the counter) or outside order taker (the soap salesperson calling on the supermarket manager).
  3. Missionary: A salesperson whose major task is to build goodwill or to educate the actual or potential user, rather than to sell (the medical “detailer” representing an ethical pharmaceutical firm).
  4. Technician: A salesperson with a high level of technical knowledge (the engineering salesperson who is primarily a consultant to client companies).
  5. Demand creator: A salesperson who relies on creative methods for selling tangible products (vacuum cleaners or siding) or intangibles (insurance or education).
  6. Solution vendor: A salesperson whose expertise lies in solving a customer’s problem, often with a system of the firm’s goods and services (such as computer and communications systems).

Role of sales reps in all industries:

As we said before personal selling is a part of the promotion mix. Advertising consists of one-way, non-personal communication with target consumer groups.
In contrast, personal selling involves two-way personal communication between salespeople and individual customers – whether face-to-face, by telephone, through video conferences or by other means.

As such, personal selling can become effective than advertising in more complex selling situations. Salespeople can probe customers to learn more about their problems.

 They can adjust the marketing offer to fit the special needs of each customer and can negotiate sale (tailor product benefits according to customers’ needs).

They can build long-term personal relationships with key decision makers.

The role of personal selling varies from company to company. Some firms have no salespeople at all – for example, organizations that sell only through mail-order catalogues or through manufacturers’ representatives, sales agents or brokers.
The sales force acts as the critical link between a company and its customers. In many cases, salespeople serve both masters the seller and the buyer.

First, they represent the company to customers. They find and develop new customers and communicate information about the company’s products and services. They sell products by approaching customers, presenting their products, answering objections, negotiating prices and terms, and closing sales. In addition, they provide services to customers, carry out market research and intelligence work, and fill out call reports.

Second, at the same time, salespeople represent customers to the company, acting inside the firm as ‘champion’ of customers’ interests. Salespeople relay customer concerns about company products and actions back to those who can handle them. They learn about customer needs and work with others in the company to develop greater customer value. Thus, the salespersons often act as an ‘account manager’ who manages the relationship between the seller and buyer.

As companies move towards a stronger market orientation, their sales forces are becoming more market focused and customer oriented. The old view was that salespeople should worry about sales and the company should worry about profit. The current view holds that salespeople should be concerned with more than just producing sales. They also must know how to produce customer satisfaction and profit.

Today, organizations expect salespeople to look at sales data, measure market potential, gather market intelligence and develop marketing strategies and plans. They should know how to orchestrate the firm’s efforts towards delivering customer value and satisfaction.

A market-oriented rather than a sales oriented Sales force will be more effective in the long run. Beyond winning new customers and making sales, it will help the company to create long-term, profitable relationships with customers. As such, the company’s sales team can be central force in an organization’s relationship marketing program.