While certainly an integral part of the promotional mix, personal selling is generally the responsibility of the sales department rather than the advertising or promotional departments. Given this fact, personal selling receives less attention in this text than in some others. This does not mean, however, that we consider this function to be of less importance. Rather, we feel that selling roles and responsibilities may be better covered in other courses. Personal selling involves selling through a person-to-person communications process. The importance placed on this element of the promotional mix will vary from firm to firm and/or industry to industry. In this chapter we examine the role of personal selling in the promotional mix, the costs involved, and the responsibilities associated with this promotional mix element. We also examine the advantages and disadvantages associated with personal selling, how the personal selling effort can be combined with other promotional tools and criteria for evaluating personal selling contributions to the promotional program.
1. To understand the role of personal selling in the integrated marketing communications program.
2. To know the advantages and disadvantages of personal selling as a promotional program element.
3. To understand how personal selling is combined with other elements in an IMC program.
4. To know ways to determine the effectiveness of the personal selling effort.
I. THE SCOPE OF PERSONAL SELLING
Personal selling will take on a more or less important role depending upon the characteristics of the firm and the marketplace in which it is competing. Figure 18-1 effectively demonstrates the results of a survey conducted by managers regarding their perceived importance of this element of the promotional mix relative to other components. As the survey demonstrates, many managers feel that this element will continue to gain importance in the coming years.
While personal selling is the responsibility of the sales department, the efforts of the sales force should be coordinated with those of the advertising and promotions department. To achieve maximum success of the marketing program, the two departments need to work together to achieve marketing goals.
II. THE ROLE OF PERSONAL SELLING IN THE PROMOTIONAL MIX
offers the marketer a number of advantages not offered by other advertising and promotional media. The
exchange process allows for direct feedback, tailoring of the message and increased attention getting capabilities. At the same time, as noted, the efforts of the personal sales force must be supported and integrated into the overall promotional program. This section of the chapter discusses the integration of these elements.
Determining the Role of Personal Selling—The marketing manager needs to consider the role that personal selling will assume relative to other promotional mix elements, and the specific responsibilities that personal selling will assume. To determine what this role should be, four specific questions must be asked:
1. What specific information must be exchanged between the firm and potential customers?
2. What are the alternative ways of carrying out these communications objectives?
3. How effective is each alternative in carrying out the needed exchange?
4. What is the cost-effectiveness of each alternative?
The Nature of Personal Selling—the evolution of personal selling. According to Tom Wotruba, the personal selling area is constantly evolving. Wotruba notes five distinct stages of personal selling: provider stage—activities are limited to accepting orders persuader stage—an attempt is made to persuade the market to buy the supplier’s offerings prospector stage—seeking out buyers with a need and the resources to purchase the product problem-solver stage—the seller helps to identify problems, translate them into needs, and help solve them
procreator stage—selling defines the buyers’ problems, and the solutions through active buyer-seller collaboration
Understanding personal selling requires examination in respect to three areas:
1. Relationship marketing—The idea behind relationship marketing is the salesperson serves as a partner to the client, engaging in problem solving, need satisfaction, etc. The concept is to develop a long-term mutually profitable relationship.
2. The costs of personal selling—Personal selling is a very expensive means of communicating with the consumer. As Page 602 illustrates, estimated costs per sales call range from a low of
$276 to a high of $354. These costs are even higher when you realize that one sales call is not likely to be enough to close a sale. As a result, personal selling is generally considered one of the most expensive of the promotional mix elements.
3. Personal selling responsibilities—Sales & Marketing Management magazine lists three categories of salespersons’ responsibilities. These include order taking, creative selling, and missionary sales. Figure 18-3 in the text describes these responsibilities in some detail.
C. Advantages and Disadvantages of Personal Selling
the ability to achieve two way interaction
tailoring of the message lack of distractions involvement in the decision process
sales force/ management conflicts high cost poor reach
III. COMBINING PERSONAL SELLING WITH OTHER PROMOTIONAL TOOLS
As stated earlier, personal selling must be integrated into the promotional mix to achieve success.
Personal selling efforts should support, and be supported by, other promotional mix elements.
A. Combining Personal Selling and Advertising—A complementary relationship should exist in which advertising is used to support personal selling efforts and vice versa. The text demonstrates how both parties could benefit from such a relationship.
B. Combining Personal Selling and Public Relations—Personal sales persons must often perform public relations activities. For example, public appearances, speaking engagements, etc. are all beneficial to the organization, and can be carried on by the sales staff. In return, public relations sponsored by the firm support the image of the salesperson.
C. Combining Personal Selling and Direct Marketing—One way marketers have found to reduce the costs of personal selling is by supporting this function with direct marketing. Letters and/or phone calls may be designed to solicit leads, screen potential customers, close sales, or as a follow-up to the salespersons efforts. The net result is a more effective, and cost conscious program. As shown in Figure 18-7, there has been a rapid growth in the use of the telemarketing/sales combination.
Combining Personal Selling and Sales Promotions—Sales promotions targeted at resellers
(discussed earlier) benefit the sales force as well. Likewise, many sales promotions (such as contests, motivational programs, etc.) are targeted directly at the sales staff.
IV. EVALUATING THE PERSONAL SELLING EFFORT
Figure 18-8 in the text can be used as an effective overhead to discuss the variety of criteria that may be used to evaluate personal selling contributions. While these criteria are generally offered as an evaluation of the sales force itself, an evaluation should be made regarding contributions to the promotional program objectives also. Criteria that may be used in this regard are:
providing marketing intelligence follow-up activities program implementation attainment of communications objectives
A key determinant of how this chapter will be taught is the orientation that the instructor wishes to assume. Some instructors like to emphasize personal selling more than we have done here. Others care only to address it as a promotional mix element, and demonstrate how this element should be integrated into the overall promotional plan. For those wishing to assume the former orientation, we suggest supplementing this chapter with materials from other texts. A couple that we might suggest are Tom
Wotruba and Edwin K. Simpson,
, Kent Publishing, or Rolph Anderson, Joseph Hair and Allan Bush,
Professional Sales Management
, McGraw Hill.
A variety of materials can be obtained to use as illustrations of those discussed in the text. Personal sales people always seem to be willing to share their promotional aids, and others can be picked up in local stores. In addition, many students who graduate with marketing degrees get sales jobs. Having them back as guest lectures to discuss their activities and supporting programs is always received quite favorably by students.
The lead-in to this chapter discusses some of the ways that companies attempt to motivate salespeople without just giving them money. Following upon this, give some examples of how integrating other program elements might also be effective in motivating the sales force.
As noted in the text, the old standard of paying more money to incent sales people is no longer as effective as it was in the past. There are a variety of reasons, and a variety of new motivators being tried. For example, dual-worker families, more emphasis on lifestyle, and more career opportunities are just some of the factors that are resulting in more diversified salespeople. Some options of motivating salespeople that have been explored by companies include:
Jupiter Media Metrix-- after Forrester Research, a competitor, hung a sign in its head quarters’ office inspiring employees to “Beat Jupiter,” Jupiter responded by initiating a motivation of its own. They showcased boxing gloves in the lobby of their offices that the sales rep that “scores the biggest knockout” of a Forrester account got to autograph each quarter.
Another example is how Hobart, a commercial food manufacturer used product placements when they supplied equipment for the White House on the TV show
The West Wing.
Top performing salespeople were able to attend the national sales meeting in Hollywood, tour the set, and meet actor
After a hard time motivating employees, Guardian Life Insurance has taken various approaches.
Their online university is available 24 hours a day and provides employees with training. They also hold motivational sales meetings and offer access to outside motivational sources. Sales reps demand, and receive constantly updated information on the hot topics in their area to keep them as aware and informed as their clients.
Other alternatives used in an attempt to motivate salespeople are trips and trophies. Instituting fun activities such as jokes at sales meetings, popcorn on the agenda, use of a Porsche Boxster for a weekend, name an animal at the zoo, comedians for early morning meetings, playing games, hotel upgrades, and playing practical jokes have all been attempted.
2. The role of the salesperson has undergone significant changes in recent years. Describe some of these changes, and give examples of the new roles salespeople are being asked to perform.
The day of just being a salesperson are slowly disappearing. Now salespeople are being asked to perform a multitude of roles. In addition to being information providers, influencers, and demonstrators, salespeople will also engage in: a.
Surveying--educating themselves more about their customers’ businesses and b.
regularly assessing these businesses to achieve a position of knowledgeable and authority.
Mapmaking--outlining both an account strategy and a solutions strategy for the customer. This means laying out a plan, discussing it with the customer, and revising it as required.
Guiding--bringing incremental value to the customer by identifying problems and opportunities, offering alternative options and solutions and providing solutions with tangible value. d.
Fire starting--engaging customers and driving them to commit to a solution.
Locating prospective customers-- often referred to as prospecting, this activity involves the search for and qualification of prospective customers. In this stage salespeople must follow up on leads and prospects. They also determine whether these prospects are qualified prospects and are able to make the decision to buy the product.
Determining customers’ needs and wants-- the sales person gathers more information g.
on the prospect and decides the best way to approach him or her. In some instances the salesperson might have to assist the customer in determining what he or she needs.
Recommending a way to satisfy the customers’ needs and wants-- the salesperson h.
recommends a possible solution to the problem and or needs of the potential customer. The sales person acts as a systems provider.
Demonstrating the capabilities of the firm and its products-- the sales person demonstrates the capabilities of the firm and shows the prospect why that firm is the obvious choice.
Closing the sale--this is the key ingredient in any sales presentation. This is a difficult task because many salespeople are reluctant to ask for the sale. Managers work with their sales force to close the sale and help reluctant or uncertain buyers make a decision.
Following up and servicing the account--responsibilities don’t end at the close of the sale. It is easier to keep old customers than attract new ones. The role of the salesperson is to maintain customer loyalty, generate repeat sales, and obtaining cross selling opportunities.
As noted on pages 599- 600, these roles will create added value and develop a relationship between buyer and seller
3. It has been said that the importance of the sales force varies at various stages in the communication hierarchies. Discuss this idea, providing examples to support your position.
Various elements of the IMC program assume more or less importance at various stages of the communications hierarchies. For example, advertising may take on the most important role in the first stage of the hierarchies, as awareness is the primary objective, and cost per exposure is low with this medium. Personal selling may be used more in the later stages to demonstrate products, stimulate trial and close the deal. When these elements are combined they compensate for each other’s weaknesses and compliment each other. For example for a new product introduction, advertising will be used to reach consumers to make them aware of the product. Specific benefits of new products may not be obvious and the advertising could be useful in creating this awareness. This can be useful to the sales force when the advertising message is received before the sales call. A number of studies have shown the complementary relationship between personal selling and advertising. For example, a study by
Theodore Levitt showed that sales reps from well-known companies are better received than those from companies that do not spend advertising dollars to create awareness. In another study, John
Morill found that selling costs were 2 to 28 percent lower if the buyer had received an advertising message before the salesperson’s arrival. In another example, Gateway recently launched a $50 million dollars IMC campaign using advertising, direct marketing, sales promotions, and the Internet to create awareness that Gateway is interested in companies’ business, that is, that they are also in the business to business market. This effort may lead to sales leads through the newly created awareness.
McGraw -Hill in a review of 54 studies concluded the combination of advertising and personal selling is important since “less that 10 percent of industrial decision makers had been called upon by a salesperson from a specific company about a specific product in the previous two months.”
Combining advertising and personal selling is likely to improve reach, reduce costs, and increase the probability of sales.
Thus, as one moves consumers down through the hierarchy, the IMC mix will change. At lower levels such as awareness and interest, advertising may play the dominant role. As one moves to evaluation, the Internet may play an increased role, and to stimulate trial or complete the sale (particularly in high involvement or business to business sales) personal selling may take on the dominant role.
Organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about dishonesty within their sales organizations.
Describe some of the ways that sales people may engage in dishonest activities. What can managers do to avoid such problems?
Because income and promotion is often directly related to sales, sales reps sometimes bend the rules.
Many organizations are concerned with salespeople committing various dishonest acts such as bribery. In a recent survey, 25% of sales reps and managers admitted that they have felt pressured by a client to give something worth more than $100 in exchange for their business, and 89% said that they had offered such gifts. Other forms of dishonesty may include lying to the client to get a sale or to a manager, providing special favors, or providing confidential competitive information to others.
These activities have caused as many as 20% of companies to use surveillance measures to ensure that their reps are not engaging in illegal activities.
5. The text describes a number of ways that sales personal selling can use advertising to help them ell more. Discuss these, providing examples of each.
Figure 18-6 in the text discusses 12 ways that advertising can support the personal selling effort.
Without explaining each here, we will list them and provide an example: a.
Save sales force time—
ads can provide information or awareness prior to the sales call b.
Save lengthy explanations—
ads can explain what the product can and cannot do, answering questions that need not be asked later. c.
many reps use advertisements as visual aids d.
buyers and reps like to see their ads in the media. For some customers, seeing their name or the name of the company in an ad is good for the ego e.
sometimes the ad serves as a “cheat-sheet” helping the sales rep in the presentation f.
Clues to prospect’s interests—
inquiries may tip off the benefits the potential customer is seeking. “Do you have that new_____available?” g.
Prove a point—
advertising reinforces the sale pitch, adding credibility h.
Nudge indecisive prospects
—the ad may be the closer that leads clinches the deal i.
—keeping the company name and brand in front of the customer may help lead to developing brand preference j.
-ups—ads can be used as a post-sale follow-up to reduce dissonance, and show interest on the part of the rep k.
Fight lower priced competitors
—many companies sell on quality, not price. Price competitors may not offer supplemental materials, create a strong brand image, etc. A good ad campaign may help the rep selling on quality. l.
Getting the customer into the act
—anything from co-op ads to asking the customer for input will involve the customer and assist the sale.
6. One of the advantages of personal selling is the ability for dyadic communication. Explain what this term means. Why is this an advantage over other media?
The term means direct (one on one) communication between two people. This offers the marketer an advantage over other media for a number of reasons:
(1). It allows for tailoring of the message. While other media , particularly mass media, have a large audience to address, personal selling allows the sender to specifically tailor the message to the receiver. This means the message can be adjusted to attract and maintain attention, and more appropriately address the needs and/or concerns of the receiver.
(2). Lack of distraction. Another advantage of this form of communication is the fact that in a one to one situation, (hopefully) there are no distractions. For example, in a selling situation, the salesperson will have the attention of the potential buyer, with little or no interruptions, distracting noises or activities, etc. This allows the receiver to fully concentrate on the exchange, reducing and or eliminating “noise”.
(3). Direct feedback. In this form of communication, the sender can directly gage the feedback from the receiver. If the receiver is appearing bored and or disinterested, the sender can change the message. If the receiver does show interest, the sender can continue on the path taken. Direct feedback will allow the sender to know how well the message is being communicated, when to ask for the sale, etc.
7. Explain what is meant by the “new role of personal selling”. How does this role differ from what personal selling has involved in the past?
There is a substantial difference between the salesperson of today, and those of previous years.
Perhaps the best way to explain this is that the new salesperson is more of a marketer than a salesperson.
In the past, the salesperson often earned their title of “huckster”, i.e., focusing on the sale of the product above all else, and “pushing” the product on to the buyer. Giveaways, perks, etc., were prime selling tools.
Today’s salesperson is more of a marketer than a selling agent. His/her tools are planograms and laptops rather than football tickets, and s/he is more of a problem solver than a huckster. Today’s salespersons act as partners with the buyer, trying to find ways to solve their problems, and are a welcome sight to the client.
Much of the change that has occurred in personal selling can be attributed to technology. The computer has allowed the salesperson to build customer databases, analyze problems the buyer is facing, etc. The Internet has provided both the buyer and the seller with enormous amounts of information available instantaneously, which keeps the seller honest and requires them to be more informed and knowledgeable about what they are selling.
Overall, today’s new salesperson is more knowledgeable, marketing savvy and involved with their clients than were those in the past.
8. Explain why the high costs of personal selling might be warranted. Give a specific example of a situation where this is the case.
While much more costly than other media on a per contact basis, personal selling may warrant the expense. While other media may make potential customers aware or interested in the product or service, the personal sales person closes the deal—that is, they get the sale. In situations in which the product or service is an expensive one (for example, furniture or autos in the consumer market, or major contracts in the business to business market), the cost of the contact is easily offset by the value and profit of the sale.
The seller can also cross sell more effectively than other media. While other media may make alternatives available, the salesperson can make specific recommendations, offer suggestions and provide information as to the benefits of the other offerings. Salespersons may assist the buyer by making them aware of products and or services that will benefit them that they never knew about.
Consider a business-to-business example. The salesperson is attempting to make a sale of computer equipment to a small business. The total sale might involve 40 to 50 computers—a sizeable sale, that would yield a significant profit. The buyer has specific needs that she needs answered. Not being very technical, she doesn’t understand the jargon. The sales rep helps her diagnoses her needs, assists her in understanding the jargon, and meets her needs. She makes the sale. She also recommends other equipment that would benefit the client—laptops for the sales people, scanners, and additional printers. As the client requires more equipment, she calls the salesperson back to place additional
orders. No other medium will allow for this exchange to take place as such. The value of the sale by far exceeds the costs.
9. Explain why the combination of personal selling and advertising may provide benefits that exceeds just personal selling alone.
Personal selling and advertising both offer their own advantages and disadvantages to the IMC program. While advertising may be more effective for reach and at lower stages of the response hierarchies, for closing the sale and/or providing in-depth information, personal selling may be more effective. Advertising is also more affordable on a cost per contact basis.
Personal selling, on the other hand, while less cost efficient, is more effective for closing the sale, helping the customer understand the product and/or service offering and relationship building.
Personal selling can also be more effective for cross selling.
By combining personal selling with advertising, the marketer may more effectively and efficiently reach customers and or potential customers. As noted, advertising can be used at the early stages of the response process to achieve the objectives of reach, creating interest, etc. Personal selling can then be used once prospects have expressed an interest, been qualified and sent information. The one to one personal selling effort can then be used to close the sale.
Studies have shown that advertising can be effective in creating brand image and awareness of products. Additional studies have shown that once the prospective buyer knows about the brand through advertising, it makes it easier for the salesperson to get an appointment and presentation.
While advertising may not mean that the salesperson gets the sale, it at least gets them in the door to have the opportunity to do so.
Describe some of the criteria used to evaluate qualitative aspects of the effectiveness of the salesperson. How might these be used to support the IMC program?
Figure 18-8 provides a comprehensive list of criteria used to evaluate the sales force. Note that some of the qualitative criteria listed therein specifically relate to the use of promotional tools. In addition, the text lists some other criteria that may be useful including:
gathering and providing marketing intelligence—salespeople should be the “eyes and ears” of the company. As such they should be evaluated and rewarded for information provided in regard to the marketplace, competitive activities, etc.
follow-up activities—the use and dissemination of promotional materials, introduction of new promotional programs, etc., should also be part of the evaluation program.
program implementations—too often promotional tools such as selling aids, counter displays, etc., never get out of the trunk of a salesperson’s cars. Objectives for implementing such programs should be set, with the achievement of these objectives being part of the evaluation program.
Customer relations—relationship building, developing accounts, and maintaining customer satisfaction are often used as criteria for evaluation.
Attainment of communication objectives—the establishment of communications objectives such as the number of accounts made aware, the number of trials attained, etc., could be used to evaluate performances.
11. Give examples of company’s public relations efforts that may have required the efforts of the sales force.
The text discusses the integration of personal selling and public relations efforts. A number of examples are cited, and a few more can be added:
1. Coors sales force distributed free cans of water to Pittsburgh residents when the drinking water supply was interrupted.
2. State Farm and other insurance sales agents assisted flood victims in the Midwest, helping them get reorganized, file claims, etc.
3. IBM sales teams helped earthquake victims get re-established by assisting them in setting up new computer systems, installing networks, etc.
Media sales people often engage in public relations activities ranging from fence painting to cleaning up neighborhoods to aiding local charities to better the media image.
5. GM sales agents and dealers become involved in GM sponsored programs that promote a relationship between GM and college , university and high school students
12. Many marketing students’ first job is in personal selling. Explain why Fortune 500 companies typically require entry-level marketing people to start off in sales.
Starting off in sales might be attributed to two major causes—the first without merit, the latter with solid logic. Many managers still do not differentiate between selling and marketing. When told someone is in marketing his or her response is “Oh, what do you sell?” The result of this is that while they are really interviewing for a sales position, they refer to it as a marketing position. (Certainly sales is a part of marketing, but is not the equivalent).
A more legitimate reason is that of market knowledge. Many Fortune 500 companies believe that to truly understand the marketplace, the best training ground is sales. It is in the field that the employee can learn about the product, competition, factors influencing adoption, and consumer purchasing behaviors. Their belief is that no amount of research and training can provide the knowledge that is gained by the first hand experience of being in the field. As such, some of these companies will require employees accepting marketing jobs such as assistant brand manager, product manager, etc. to spend anywhere from 6 months to a year as a marketing or sales representative. Others offer entrylevel positions at the sales level only, with one’s first promotion making them eligible for marketing slots.
The unfortunate side of this approach is that many newly hired employees and/or applicants have negative impressions of sales. They want to be marketers and not encyclopedia salespersons. By understanding the different types of selling jobs, and by understanding the logic behind starting marketing people off in sales positions, the likelihood of retention and recruiting of good candidates is enhanced.
13. Explain how a personal sales agent might use the Internet to become a more effective marketer.
Referring to page 611, one might envision a number of ways to integrate the Internet into the personal sales role.
to fulfill the requirements of creative selling, it is necessary to conduct a situation analysis, determine needs to be met, prospect and get the order. The wealth of information on the
Internet can assist in this regard. The Net can be used to identify potential prospects. It is an excellent place to find information and/or source information, and it is a cost-effective way of communicating with potential customers to convert them into prospects.
the Net has become a cost-effective tool for order placing. Imagine a straight re-buy situation, where stocks need only to be replenished. This action hardly requires a sales visit. By having a Website, the provider makes it very easy for clients to make purchases—either first time or re-buys. This makes it convenient for the customer, saving them time, as well as the salesperson, who can be utilizing his/her time more effectively.
Missionary sales reps—
the missionary sales rep is an information provider. S/he introduces new products, programs, promotions, etc. Much of this may require personal calls, but once a strong relationship has been established with the client, much can be done over the Internet and the phone
(particularly when used together). Secondly, the missionary sales rep can prospect, and can provide potential clients with information without being intrusive. Qualified prospects can then receive a follow-up visit to close the sale.
In sum, the Internet provides a wealth of information, the opportunity to communicate and the ability to prospect at a fraction of the cost of personal sales. In the industrial market this may be even more pronounced as the RFP’s (requests for proposals) can be posted, saving both sides significant time and money.
14. What is relationship marketing? Give examples of how companies might employ this strategy.
Relationship marketing is defined as “an organization’s effort to develop a long term, cost-effective link with individual customers for mutual benefit”. What this means is that the salesperson is no longer for just selling or pushing products onto the customer. Rather s/he serves as a partner, working with the customer to best satisfy their needs and solve their problems. The end result is a mutual interdependence in which a long term, profitable relationship develops.
Relationship marketing may take place in a number of ways. For example:
a computer company develops software specifically for a client that helps them solve a particular need
UPS establishes a warehouse and shipping center next to a major clients manufacturing plant to assist them in shipping their products
P&G works with Wal-Mart to computerize their diaper sales, automatically shipping when stocks are low. Wal-Mart is relieved of ordering responsibilities, P & G gains in sales and loyalty.
15. Explain how Mercedes’ “pre-selling” of its new sport utility vehicle reflects an IMC approach to marketing.
Mercedes’ pre-sell exemplifies the use of marketing and particular IMC in a variety of ways. First of all, it started with marketing research, which was used on both product design as well as in communications efforts. Each message was tailored specifically to the needs and concerns of interested parties. Secondly, the pre-sell was used to generate interest—a good use of communications goals vis á vis the adoption hierarchy presented in chapter 5. Direct marketing and personal selling were employed in an IMC program that allowed one component to supplement the other, with the net result being an effective marketing effort.
Have students make a sales presentation to the class for a product/service of their choice. In the presentation, promotional material (ads, sales promotions, advertising specialties) should be included to aid the presentation. Have the student discuss how other tools support the sales effort. Have other class members critique the presentation.