||It has been suggested that sales be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since February 2013.|
Selling is offering to exchange an item of value for a different item. The original item of value being offered may be either tangible or intangible. The second item, usually money, is most often seen by the seller as being of equal or greater value than that being offered for sale.
A person or organization expressing an interest in acquiring the offered item of value is referred to as a potential buyer, prospective customer or prospect. Buying and selling are understood to be two sides of the same "coin" or transaction. Both seller and buyer engage in a process of negotiation to consummate the exchange of values. The exchange, or selling, process has implied rules and identifiable stages. It is implied that the selling process will proceed fairly and ethically so that the parties end up nearly equally rewarded. The stages of selling, and buying, involve getting acquainted, assessing each party’s need for the other’s item of value, and determining if the values to be exchanged are equivalent or nearly so, or, in buyer's terms, "worth the price.”
From a management viewpoint it is thought of as a part of marketing, although the skills required are different. Sales often forms a separate grouping in a corporate structure, employing separate specialist operatives known as salespersons (singular: salesperson). Selling is considered by many to be a sort of persuading "art". Contrary to popular belief, the methodological approach of selling refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, by which a salesman relates his or her offering of a product or service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way. While the sales process refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, the definition of the selling is somewhat ambiguous due to the close nature of advertising, promotion, public relations, and direct marketing.
Sales, finance and operations are the only functions that are indispensable to a corporation. Every other role is considered support. The top person at a company is usually the CEO, who is also the top salesperson who is responsible for bringing the company to potential investors and customers. Support roles such as HR, Marketing, and Administration are now more integrated in the sales organization. For example, in professional services organizations, a key to succeed in sales is laid in the relationship with the HR organization, just as in shipping companies depend on improvement in operations and logistics to make their services more attractive.
Types of selling
Selling is the profession-wide term, much like marketing defines a profession. Recently, attempts have been made to clearly understand who is in the sales profession, and who is not. There are many articles looking at marketing, advertising, promotions, and even public relations as ways to create a unique transaction.
Two common terms used to describe a salesperson are "Farmer" and "Hunter". The reality is that most professional sales people have a little of both. A hunter is often associated with aggressive personalities who use aggressive sales technique. In terms of sales methodology a hunter refers to a person whose focus is on bringing in and closing deals. This process is called “sales capturing”. An example is a commodity sale such as a long distance sales person, shoe sales person and to a degree a car sales person. Their job is to find and convert buyers. A sales farmer is someone who creates sales demand by activities that directly influence and alter the buying process.
Many believe that the focus of selling is on the human agents involved in the exchange between buyer and seller. Effective selling also requires a systems approach, at minimum involving roles that sell, enable selling, and develop sales capabilities. Selling also involves salespeople who possess a specific set of sales skills and the knowledge required to facilitate the exchange of value between buyers and sellers that is unique from marketing, advertising, etc.
Within these three tenets, the following definition of professional selling is offered by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD):
|“||The holistic business system required to effectively develop, manage, enable, and execute a mutually beneficial, interpersonal exchange of goods and/or services for equitable value.||”|
Team selling has grown to become one of the most common ways to influence sales. Team selling is “a group of people representing the sales department and other functional areas in the firm, such as finance, production, and research and development”. (Spiro) Team selling came about in the 1990s through total quality management (TQM). TQM occurs when companies work to improve their customer satisfaction by constantly improving all of their operations. If a company decides to use a team-selling approach, there are some factors to consider:
- The size and diversity of the team
- Management will decide the reward of the individuals apart of the team and the whole team.
- Strategic objectives will be the basis for the majority of the decisions in team selling.
Team selling is not always the best choice in all situations. Team Selling can be expensive and should be used when there is a chance for high sales and profit. Companies will need to weigh the pros and cons of the situation and base their decision on whether the approach will match the needs of the buyer. If team selling is executed correctly it can offer advantages such as:
- By having two salespeople approach an account allows for “continuous learning”. Before, after, and during presentations team members can help identify each other's flaws during their portion of the sales pitch. They also may identify particular problems that may be preventing a sale and also identify additional features to be added to their sales pitch to entice the customer.
- When a small company uses two salespeople to call on a client together it helps the image of the company appear to be impressive and large. When companies use team selling it helps identify them from their competitors.
- Customers sometimes like a company which uses team selling because if they have a concern or problem they have two salespeople they can contact to address their concern or problem.
- Team selling also shows prospective clients that the company does not only have one person who has strong selling capabilities, but several of equal calibre. Allowing clients to get to know more than one member at once will help give them a higher comfort level about the company.
- With effective team selling, the cost of sales calls will decline, however, the number of people assigned to each sales call will double. This will increase their batting average which will then increase their productivity.
A number of specific selling strategies come under the umbrella of sales or selling, including the following:
- Cold calling
- Consultative selling
- Direct selling
- Guaranteed sale
- Needs-based selling
- Persuasive selling
- Hard Selling
- Heart Selling
- Price based selling
- Relationship Selling
- Target account selling
- Solution selling
- Sandler Selling System
- Challenger Sales
- Action Selling
Personal selling process
The personal selling process is an eight step approach that has been found to be beneficial in sales. The eight steps are: prospecting, preapproach, approach, need assessment, presentation, meeting objections, gaining commitment, and following up.
Prospecting is the step where salespeople determine leads or prospects. After they figure out potential customers, they must determine whether they are qualified leads, or leads who are likely to buy. Qualified leads are those who have a need for the product, can afford the product, and are willing to be contacted by the salesperson.
Next, the preapproach is used for preparing for the presentation. This consists of customer research and goal planning for the presentation. Then comes the approach. This is when the salesperson initially meets with the customer. It is helpful to schedule an appointment to ensure capturing the buyer’s attention. Since first contact leaves an impression on the buyer, professional conduct, including attire, a handshake, and eye contact, is advised.
Following the approach is the need assessment. Salespeople should evaluate the customer based on the need for the product. They should ask questions to reveal the current situation, the source of any problems, the impact of the problems, the benefits of the solution, and the interest of the buyer.
Once the salesperson knows the needs, he or she is ready for the presentation. The point of this is to grab the customer’s Attention, ignite Interest, create Desire, and inspire Action, or AIDA. The salesperson can do this through product demonstrations and presentations that show the features, advantages and benefits of the product.
After this comes meeting objections. Customers who are interested will voice their concerns, usually in one of four ways. They might question the price or value of the product, dismiss the product/service as inadequate, avoid making a commitment to buy, or refuse because of an unknown factor. Salespeople should do their best to anticipate objections and respectfully respond to them. Then, gaining commitment comes next. The salesperson can use several different sales closes to move the sale forward. They can use the ‘alternative close’, the ‘assumptive close’, the ‘summary close’, or the ‘special-offer close’, among others. Finally, the salesperson must remember to follow up. Following up will ensure customer satisfaction and help establish a relationship with the customer.
- Philip Kotler, Principles of Marketing, Prentice -Hall, 1980
- Greening, Jack (1993). Selling Without Confrontation. The Haworth Press, Inc. p. 23. ISBN 1-56024-326-0. Page image 
- "American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)". Sales Competency Project. Retrieved April 2008.
- Rustenburg, Gerbrand; Arnold Steenbeek (2012), Sales management, 4th ed., Noordhoff, Groningen (NL), ISBN 9789001807962, http://salesmanagement.noordhoff.nl/sites/7106/index.htm.
- Spiro, Roseann; Gregory Rich, William Stanton (2008). Management of a Sales Force (12th ed.). McGraw-Hill Irwin.
- "Personal Selling". Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Brown, Alex. "Chapter 20, Personal Selling and Sales Management, Class Notes". Retrieved 28 July 2012.