9 tips for personal selling that guarantee success in 2022
The world of sales is constantly shifting. Technology is now a considerable part of the selling process—email and phone sales make up the majority of business, and manipulative methods of persuasion are almost a thing of the past.
With so many changes and the rise of tech, you might think that doing sales pitches in person is long gone, but that is far from the truth. Instead, personal selling is very much alive and is still a big part of the business world.
In this article, I'll look at the nature of this process, personal selling advantages and disadvantages, and how you can use it to your benefit in 2022.
What is personal selling?
Personal selling is the act of doing a sales pitch with the prospect face to face.
This can be done by sales representatives sent by companies to promote their products to a prospective customer, also known as a missionary salesperson, or done on-site, such as in a make-up store or an Apple store.
There is also a third type, where sales representatives arrange a meeting with the prospective buyer at a third location and pitch the product or service through a presentation.
The most common type of personal selling is the one done on-site—you see it with car dealerships, realtor agents, home improvement solutions, and much more. When the purchase is substantial, the client often needs to go on-site to decide, allowing the salesperson to promote the product or service directly to the prospect.
Why is personal selling important?
Today's prospective buyers are intelligent, well-informed people who try to make smart decisions with their investments. They’re also spoilt for choice—the market is extremely competitive, so it's not as hard to find an alternative as it once was.
This is where you can see the importance of personal selling—making long-lasting connections and being there for the customer. Person-to-person communication during a sales pitch allows the agent to answer any concerns and form a meaningful relationship.
No matter how much money you put into marketing and PR, nothing can sell your product better than a qualified sales expert.
Tip: If you feel like your sales team might not be up to the task, consider hiring a sales consultant to help you out!
Advantages and disadvantages of personal selling
No sales tactic is perfect, and personal selling is not an exception to this rule. To give you a better overall point of view, let's take a look at the various pros and cons of this sales process.
Advantages of the personal selling process
Here are some of the pros to this method:
You can personalize sales messages
Because those face-to-face meetings are individual, they can be adjusted according to the potential buyer, including their interests and motivations.
The sales representative will see people’s specific pain points and target them accordingly. The tone of voice and language used is also adjusted so that the salesperson can promote the company's products in the best light possible.
You can demonstrate the product
Direct contact also allows for a sales presentation and demonstrations of the service or product, which can be hard to do on a sales call or via email.
The prospect can see for themselves how this product can help them specifically, no matter if it's an individual buyer or a company representative.
You can answer questions on the spot
During this presentation, questions can arise, and who better to answer them than a skillful sales representative?
Yes, your website might offer a section with frequently asked questions, but the chances are that it doesn't cover all the potential topics a customer might care about.
Another thing is that often, certain questions will not arise until the prospect sees the product or service in action, especially when we're talking about a more complex idea.
You have the opportunity to target customers that are only qualified leads
Personal selling is a very targeted technique, and you don't go meeting every potential customer.
I previously talked about different types of personal selling: on-site and arranged meetings.
In the first case, people come to look for your company's product. Therefore, they are already aware of its main characteristics and, most importantly, are interested in purchasing.
In the second option, the sales representatives would research the prospective customer thoroughly before arranging the meeting and engaging in a sales promotion.
The ability to perform targeted selling is also the main feature that makes the personal selling process so successful and important in business.
You can form better customer relationships
Technology is great, but nothing compares to face-to-face interaction. During a real-life sales meeting, your representative has the chance to forge long-lasting, high-quality relationships and increase the number of loyal clients.
Disadvantages of personal selling
Here are some not-so-nice things about personal selling:
Training is expensive
Personal selling is not an easy process. Sometimes, even experienced salespeople will have difficulty closing a deal in person, especially if they are used to online or over-the-phone communication with their qualified prospects.
To get an effective team of personal sales experts, you'll likely have to hire a trainer or invest in a sales training program for your team.
And the main problem here is that you won't know whether a specific sales representative is good or not at their job until you send them on the field. And there will be a few failures before they reach success. This is true in every area of business, but in personal selling, the situation is a bit different.
You can do a lot of experiments in marketing, SEO, and even sales when it's done through cold calling or email, and it doesn't cost that much. However, when selling products and services in person, you only have one chance, and it’s unlikely to happen in the first few tries.
This is what makes hiring the right salespeople in the first place so important.
Turnover rates of sales representatives are high
Because it is such a demanding and challenging job, stress levels are much higher for your employees that depend on in-person interaction to close a deal. So naturally, even when a lot of money is involved, face-to-face selling agents are usually the ones to quit first when they feel too much pressurе.
After someone leaves, the company has to immediately find someone to replace them and continue the work as soon as possible.
Costs per sale are elevated
Every deal requires the company to provide specific supplies and cover the costs of the sales rep, and in the end, there's only a certain amount of money you can spend on selling a deal.
The overall promotional costs include but are not limited to: travel expenses, commission, salary, supporting material, office supplies, product guides and brochures, telecommunication, bonuses, and more.
All of that puts even more pressure on the sales rep to close the deal and be successful, which, again, can lead to high sales rep turnovers.
9 personal selling strategies for 2022
Now that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of personal selling, let’s break down some helpful strategies you can use when employing this method.
1. Use personal selling only when it’s needed
This sales method will not work for everyone, so you need to make sure you can benefit from it. Personal selling is best suited for the following cases:
- When you’re selling custom, technical and expensive equipment such as high-ticket software and real estate
- When your product needs a real-life demonstration before it can be purchased
- When you’re looking to introduce a new series of products or services
- When you have infrequent but valuable purchases
- When you have a small number of very high-value clients
There are exceptions to every rule, but these are the main reasons you want to opt for personal selling instead of other tactics.
2. Optimize your lead qualifying process
Qualifying prospects is a vital part of personal selling. You can’t engage with every single lead and hope for the best. The best strategy is to carefully select prospects such as those on your existing email list, with the biggest potential of turning into clients.
To do that, you’d have to optimize the entire process of qualifying leads:
- Create an ideal customer profile
- Try to define their needs and pain points
- Fully understand their decision-making process
- Research the competition
3. Gather enough information about the prospect
When you have the main customer profile ready, try to gather some information about the prospect—little things that show you pay attention and you’ve done your research can make a great difference.
Understand is how they communicate with people—very professional and formal, or witty and casual. This will help you set the tone for the entire meeting, presentation, and how you conduct the pitch.
What ultimately matters the most is that you clearly understand (and can articulate) how you can help your prospects overcome their most crucial problems, or achieve their objectives.
4. Establish a connection beforehand
Unless you work on-site, you’ll have to first communicate over the phone or by email to arrange a meeting in person.
Be friendly and try to build some rapport before you see each other face to face. This will give you an advantage when the actual pitch starts because there will be a feeling of familiarity, taking away some of the stress you might feel before a presentation.
A great way of also doing this is by sending personalized videos.
5. Organise and plan with an all-in-one CRM tool
Every sales team needs a powerful tool to optimize the sales process—otherwise, they risk losing important clients.
With a CRM, you can put all of the prospective customers in one place, sort them by probability, update what you've already done to prepare yourself for the pitch, and so much more.
For example, with the Close, you can directly email your prospective customers, create a list of tasks for each one, keep all your contacts in one place, call them, and build sales sequences that allow you to scale your personalized sales outreach.
The personal selling process is creative and requires a lot of planning, so don't waste your time with administrative tasks or using multiple tools to schedule and prepare yourself for a meeting.
Start automating your sales process with Close instead for a seamless and easy experience.
6. Prepare your presentation and rehearse
Rehearse your pitch multiple times. Then, show it to colleagues, your wife, and anyone who will listen. The idea is to get used to talking about the product or service confidently, without any mishaps.
7. Be prepared for all types of questions
You can’t predict the future, but you can try to predict the most plausible questions the prospective customer might ask. You don't need to create the ultimate sales guide for your team—even getting started with a minimum viable version of sales documentation is better than showing up unprepared.
Listen carefully and take notes if needed. It’s important to be knowledgeable about what you’re trying to sell while being honest and transparent. Make it personal and give examples relevant to their business to show how they can benefit from this deal.
8. Choose the best meeting place
The best idea would be to have a private meeting somewhere, especially if you have an entire presentation or a product demonstration. Invite the prospect there and use a presentable meeting room if you have an office.
In case you don’t have one available, you can always hire a conference room in a third location or offer to come to their office if you’re pitching to a business.
9. Ask for feedback and follow up
The sales process does not end with the final word of your pitch. At the end of your sales conversation, when all the questions are over, calculate your chances based on the interaction and try to close the deal.
Whatever the outcome is, make sure to ask for feedback and always follow up even after the meeting is over and you go your separate ways.
Ready to have an impact?
In personal selling, it's important to be prepared for anything to make the best impression on your prospect.
By following the tips above, you'll be able to qualify leads, build a personal connection with your prospective customers, and present your product or service in the most effective way possible.
And remember, there is nothing more valuable than experience—take notes, keep improving, and you can take over the world of personal selling!
Want to learn how to better prep and pitch better? Get the sales pitch guide from Close:
Jessica La is a writer with over six years in the SEO, AI, and content industry. In her blog ByJessicaLa.com, she explores all things marketing and is passionate about the unique ways businesses can improve, innovate and grow. You can reach her at email@example.com